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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Would you outsource data strategy and execution?

February 5, 2019 | By Michel Benjamin, Director of Marketing—Lotame @micheltben

It’s fair to say that the advertising industry has embraced audience data. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and its Data Center of Excellence released a study in December 2018 showing that companies have spent nearly $19.2 billion on the acquisition of audience data and on solutions to manage, process, and analyze this data in 2018. That’s a 17.5% increase from the prior year.

Whether it is first, second, or third-party, using audience data to enhance campaigns is more impactful than un-targeted campaigns. While third-party data exchanges have been widely available for over a decade, second-party data marketplaces have sprung up, as the need for increased data quality and questions of sourcing and transparency have also proliferated.

What’s the problem?

Data isn’t just useful for advertising. It is a necessity across every industry. However, for many companies, figuring out how to act on this data is the hard part. There are many reasons why companies fail to use data to drive their marketing campaigns, including:

  • Lack of enterprise-level strategy (What are we using this for again?)
  • Strong corporate strategy, but lack of internal talent to execute (How can we get this thing to do what we want?)
  • Competing needs for limited resources (My whole team is swamped!)
  • Turnover of employees who manage the software (Our power user quit, now what?)
  • No collective ownership (It’s not my job!)

The upside of outsourcing

A study conducted in late 2018 found that 78% of the senior digital media decision-makers polled would choose to outsource their data strategy and execution. Data strategy development, management and execution require investments in talent and technology. And many organizations simply don’t have the in-house capabilities or infrastructure.

When asked what specifically they would want help with if outsourcing their data strategy, the answers varied:

  • 30% have some sort of strategy in place, but need help executing the tactics
  • 22% has a basic understanding, but needs help optimizing their campaigns
  • 14% need help from start to finish in developing the actual data strategy and tactics
  • 11% is short on resources and needs additional support to run reports and build audiences

Clearly, there is a lack of internal resources and/or knowledge among many of these participants. Education and knowledge are required to maximize the value of data, from the beginning during data collection through building and executing upon a strategy.

Using data correctly can help drive traffic and grow audiences, which then has a cascading effect on campaign success and the value provided to advertisers. But if you don’t have the internal resources available, or the talent to execute, or even an enterprise-level strategy: What are you to do?

Gain control by giving up

If a company believes that a strong data can be a true source of insights and revenue, then they will take the necessary steps to achieve their goals. Really, outsourcing data strategy shouldn’t be any different from outsourcing marketing strategy or overall sales strategy. Consulting firms have been around for many years, but data consulting firms are not quite as commonplace as others. 2019 is predicted to bring many changes to the publishing industry. And I believe the proliferation of data consulting and outsourcing of data strategy is just one piece of this puzzle.

The publishing industry is facing enough challenges. If it’s time to sink or swim, what would you be willing to give up in order to survive?

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