Industry forecasts for marketing technology in 2017 will come fast and furious with the year’s end. But as we look ahead, a persistent issue confronts digital marketers of every stripe: data ownership.
Why is this topic at the top of the agenda for 2017? Owning your marketing data seems simple at first blush. But with every new channel, platform, device, and the combinations thereof, data ownership becomes more strategic and complex.
Consumers continue to expand the customer journey as a mix of interrelated touch points. As Forrester forecasts, for example, cross-channel sales are expected to grow to $1.8 trillion by 2018, more than four times larger than online sales by themselves.
By “cross-channel,” Forrester means the large numbers of sales influenced online but completed in-store. Deloitte chimed in with research reporting that 76 percent of respondents in its “Digital Divide” survey interact with brands before walking into a store.
To win in this game of buyer agility, marketers require a rigorous approach to data ownership delivering high-quality intelligence for marketing and advertising initiatives. First-party data drives customer acquisition and revenue, along with the analytics to optimize actions and defend budgets. It’s also essential to ensure data security and compliance with increasingly strict privacy regulations.
Yet closed marketing suites typically restrict access to data. And marketers and advertisers routinely dump their first-party data into third-party martech and ad tech vendor systems designed to work with third-party cookies — and then lose control of it.
Moreover, third-party data collection is notoriously inaccurate because browsers may block third-party cookies or delete them within days. Even more frustrating is that these third-party cookies do not distinguish a unique individual as he or she switches from one device to the next, inflating data and making it difficult to track a single customer across the ecosystem.
Given these conditions, it’s critical that marketers deploy new technology and processes enabling them to control the entire life cycle of data across every customer touch point. Let’s look at some of the challenges to data ownership and possible remedies to look at in the new year.
The simple answer is that first-party data is data that a brand or publisher owns as a result of users accessing brand-owned websites, social platforms and mobile apps — combined with data in a company’s internal systems like customer relationship management (CRM), point of sale, call centers and so on.
The data is collected via a direct relationship with the consumer. It may also be collected via website cookies, registration forms, brand surveys, social data or any other activity on the brand’s web properties.
Nonetheless, the ways first-party data is often used can be confusing for the marketing team.