Two-thirds of UK brands are underutilising marketing data

Two-thirds of UK brands are underutilising marketing data
Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

Almost two-thirds of UK brands are underutilising their data and limiting its effectiveness by focussing on general analysis activations rather than more sophisticated techniques.

While the majority are activating their data – just a small amount of marketers (5%) are not activating their data at all – only 39% of brands are utilising the power of advanced measurement solutions to gain granular insights from their data. 

This is according to a study of marketing decision makers in the UK, conducted by technology and digital marketing consultancy Making Science, which found that of the three sectors surveyed – retail and eCommerce, financial services, and  travel – UK retail is lagging behind both other sectors in its data practices. Surprisingly, retail and eCommerce respondents are less likely (7%) to gather both on or off line data, compared to only 1% of financial and travel respondents. Retail brands are also less likely to validate the quality of their data, with one in eight failing to do so. This is significantly higher than both financial (1%) and travel (2%).

In regards to data activation, 12% of retail respondents stated that they did not activate their data at all – much higher than financial (1%) and travel (2%) – while 15% of retail brands have not invested in data automation, with financial services at 3% and travel at 4%.

Considering that over half (55%) of all the marketers surveyed aim to gain new clients as a result of data activation, these findings – particularly in the retail sector – highlight surprising wastage of efforts in light of the post-pandemic drive for efficiency and the pressure of growing economic concerns on ROI.    

Those activating their data not only aim to attract new clients, but also to increase brand awareness (50%), gain more loyalty within their current client base (46%), increase ROI (42%), and increase Conversion Rate Optimisation (38%).

“The number of brands investing in data collection with the aim to grow their business and enhance current services, yet failing to fully complete the final stage of activation, where the benefits of their efforts are rewarded, was particularly surprising to us” said Kevin Daly, first-party data director at Making Science. “Almost all companies look to ensure the quality of their data, with 6 in 10 using internal processes and 5 in 10 relying on external platforms. 9 in 10 are going a step further and enriching their data, using a mixture of machine learning and AI tools. However, after all of the hard work, the majority are failing to use advanced measurement solutions to activate their data to its full potential. It is clear that there is currently a lack of understanding or resources to complete the most important stage in the data journey: activation. This is where Making Science’s technology can apply key learnings to a data strategy, and work towards key objectives by leveraging data insights.”

Rise of AI

Nine in ten companies have embraced machine learning in order to enrich their data. The most common usage in all industries surveyed was to create product recommendations for consumers, with nearly half of respondents utilising the tech for this. A further 43% stated that they used machine learning in order to optimise ad campaigns, while 34% use AI in order to personalise their website.

In line with the other data trends, retail brands are most likely to not be using machine learning, with a fifth of respondents from this industry not using the technology.


Nearly one in ten companies are still unsure how GDPR regulations apply to their company. Six years after the initial legislation was introduced, a further 4% state that they have not heard of the GDPR regulations, while 1% state they are aware of the regulations but have chosen to ignore them. Of those who have taken notice of GDPR, 38% worked with an external expert in order to become compliant, while 33% rely on in-house expertise.

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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