Data strategies: Fix it, don’t stitch it

The quality of (big) data has for a long time been a crux for CMOs. Instead of creating a true view that positions their brand to make sound decisions, CMOs are having to "stitch together" their data from different sources. They’re creating data Frankenstein monsters from different warehouses, assembling disparate findings, and failing to optimise decisions around the customer journey. This isn’t efficient, easy or effective. It’s therefore essential for CMOs to become data stewards within their own organisations and lead their teams with confidence.

CMOs are inspired and tasked with creating growth for their companies and in the beginning, things were relatively easy. In broadcasting, for example, they understood the effectiveness of their marketing through rating agencies and market research firms, but it was estimating at best. The internet then happened and created an enormous world of interconnectivity between people and content, giving CMOs the promise of addressability. For the first time in history, they now had the potential to know exactly who is looking at what, where and when.

Since understanding this potential, marketers have aspired to build technology that’s based on that superpower. They’ve set out to build software that lets them target their ideal customer and they’ve also set out to build solutions that let them measure how well they do this. Along the way, what they’ve learned is that it’s a lot of hard work, and they’re starting to realise that they may not have everything connected in the most effective way.

In many cases, things have become too complicated, unmanageable and often fail to provide the answers needed.  A recent survey conducted by the CMO Council in May 2018 (Keeping A Positive Approach to Data Management is Critical to Revenue Traction) discovered that only 26% of organisations say that they have a solid data-driven marketing strategy, with 29% of advertisers stating that they consider their measurement data completely trustworthy.

So, why is this? The reason is that marketers originally set out to build a ‘Superman’ of marketing; a Super-stack. However, it appears that instead of a Super-stack, many have really built a Franken-stack - a mix of half functioning tools and point solutions that have been stitched together.

And if that’s true, how was this monster built to begin with?

Many brands began building their Super-stack by organically investing in several marketing channels such as paid search, Facebook ads, affiliate, email and display. The different channels however operated in silos; with each measuring to their own budgets and spreadsheets. When these were all added into the stack along with a proprietary data warehouse, an attribution vendor, a visualisation tool, analytics vendors, email vendors and more, it made it worse. The result is a Franken-stack where everything is stitched together, and the data monster is brought to life.

To make a Super-stack work cohesively, brands need to start with a big data foundation and ensure that it can track and ingest all marketing data, at the event level. This means that all marketing data: impressions, clicks and conversions, both online and offline, from any source is tracked and correlated at a granular level.

The Super-stack also needs to verify and normalise the data, including deduping events. It must include algorithmic data modelling to understand true incrementality tied to business results.

At the core of the Super-stack, should be a clean, normalised data-set; with clear reporting and visualisation, advanced ad-hoc analysis capabilities and the ability to make the data portable and able to sync with other systems.

It is imperative that the CMO adopts a person-centric view of their data and can track to a single consumer journey, or they will be adding waste to their marketing investments.

But a word of caution: What is Superman’s one weakness?  Kryptonite. If that’s true, what is a Super-stack’s one big weakness? Krypto-data.

Whether it is hidden data, bad data, black holes, blind spots or data gaps, if you put bad data in, the result will be bad data out.

Avoid Krypto-data and the future of a Super-stack is clear. It can create a true system of record at the core with the ability to track and ingest data from all marketing sources. It can run scenarios on how to allocate budgets across channels, partners and even what to bid at the event level. Most importantly, it can examine, cleanse and account for marketers’ data in a way that will inform sound decisions about paid marketing and media spend. Ultimately, it will enable CMOs to become data stewards within their own organisations and lead their teams with confidence.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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