New Research: Real-Time Data Fuels Targeted Marketing

September 8, 2010
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Winterberry Group has just published new research that promises to provide marketers with a road map for navigating the changing landscape of marketing data that is increasingly critical to their success. This research is the product of significant contributions from nearly 200 thought leaders representing virtually all corners of the commercial marketing data industry (full disclosure:  my employer, Netezza, sponsored this research along with our customer and partner, Acxiom).

Two industry trends stand out

These findings in the research are particularly well-aligned with trends that I’ve noticed in the market:

  • A new industry structure is emerging—one marked by key competencies in analytics and technological integration. A shakeup is underway, and the winners will be those firms that invest in these competencies.
  • Marketing services firms are increasingly focused on reducing data latency in the pipelines they create to integrate and analyze vast arrays of data from disparate sources.  Their focus is on “executing campaigns in milliseconds”—not days, weeks, or months—using the most recently available data.  Doing so enables them to increase campaign targeting precision, buy media more efficiently, and achieve competitive differentiation.

As the chart below from the study shows, table stakes issues for marketers related to leveraging more data, controlling their data, and making their data more useful also rank as high priorities:

Why do marketers struggle with data?

The study finds that:

  • “making efficient use of that vast array of data…remains a significant issue”
  • “the most fundamental execution challenge…is rooted in technology and infrastructure”

Is IT holding marketing back?

That’s my interpretation.  After all, the study makes it clear that marketers want to maximize the value of their marketing data infrastructure.  What other reason could there be for these “execution challenges”?  🙂

Interestingly, nearly every marketing service provider, ad network, demand side platform, data provider, ratings firm, and publisher I speak with has already solved the top 6 challenges in the chart above.  In fact, of the challenges listed in the survey, most of them are focused on problem number 7—reducing data latency (because, as the study says, “real-time data—rather than the digital channels themselves—is the real fuel of effective marketing”).  But given the nature of my work, it seems likely that my sample is biased in favor of the more technically sophisticated firms in the market.

It’s time for marketers to step up

Given this latest research—the call to action for marketers is clear:  Marketers must step up and lead their teams through the technology infrastructure challenges involved in leveraging real-time data sources to increase campaign performance. Solving this problem is now part of every marketer’s job description—because marketing and data analysis are now inexorably intertwined.  After all:

  • Marketers are responsible for the outcomes of their campaigns, and top-performing campaigns are now more than ever enabled by cutting edge technology, so it only makes sense for marketers to exercise more control over the infrastructure necessary to ensure their success.
  • There are now plenty of examples of marketers succeeding in this endeavor—because technology has evolved and solving these problems has become easier than ever.

To learn more, download the free eBook here: “The Changing Mission of Marketing Data”. Note that this eBook links to the in-depth Winterberry Group report it summarizes, too.