The ability to make powerful data readily accessible for anyone in your organization, widely known as data democratization, is not a new concept. Numerous articles have been written about the topic as well as the benefits of cross functional datasets, transparency and accessibility. Today’s CMOs are challenged to show business results, understand and find the right customer all while encouraging engagement and knowledge transfers across their organization. Mounting changes in the industry (i.e. restrictions on cookies and browser tracking) along with legal and privacy regulation (CCPA, GDPR) further raise the stakes.

Greater transparency and data democratization seems like a simple enough solution. While in theory this is the ideal state for organizational effectiveness and partner alignment, it is understandable why companies are struggling to change. Often, radical cultural and technical shifts are needed within an organization, without which, the above industry changes cannot be met.

Organizations experience very real challenges that can seemingly outweigh the benefits of data democratization:
  • Significant Investment is required. Even pre-COVID-19, marketers invested in technology and data at levels that started to outweigh the results. True benefits of democratized data require both financial and human resources. The human element means that effective implementation of a data strategy is often uneven.

  • Inappropriate use of data. Assuming data is made available, the next concern is how that data will or can be used, across three key areas:
    a. Data could be shared outside of the allowed parties, exposing information that negatively impacts the company’s position or information.
    b. Data might be misread or misinterpreted, negatively impacting business decisions.
    c. Mistrust in how external partners will utilize proprietary data has led many companies to withhold sales data. With limited partner and publisher performance transparency, no one party has an advantage and the organization is actually limiting itself.

  • Lack of Interest. Most organizations have a diverse number of reports that help track towards various goals. Some organizations will not see the value in additional reports, or at looking at data with an altogether new approach.

Organizations experience very real challenges that can seemingly outweigh the benefits of data democratization:
  • Scalable costs. Believe it or not, the path to quality, accessible data should not require significant financial investment if a properly set up data structure exists (clean data in, means quality data out). Look for a partner that provides a customizable data architecture for your organization’s unique needs. With your own data in order, consider that there are vast sources of data to tie into your audiences, media, sales and performance data which can increase the recency of the data, improving optimization speeds. This approach allows you to take data from quarterly to daily, and in turn maximizes performance. While many of these solutions do have an entry point price tag, tying clean data with recent data (and aligning your marketing efforts with your overall data practice) will yield more efficient results.

  • Data Governance and Alignment. Once your properly structured data is flowing appropriately, you need to make sure the data stays in the right hands, answers the right questions and is providing accurate insights – data governance is critical. Formulate organizational guidelines to place the right level of restrictions, access, and accessibility to the data.
    a. Data Policies – verify access to the data as appropriate for internal and external use cases and be flexible with these permissions.
    b. Templatization – aligning reporting to core business objectives (sales performance, media in market, budget allocations) provides quick access and empowers decision making.
    c. Data Indicators and Definitions – for superusers really digging into the data, accessible definitions provide clear insights into the source, recency and descriptions of the measurement – again clean data in, clean data out. If there is sensitive data that you do not wish to share with external partners, like sales or profitability, then develop those key indicators for performance. This will allow partners to work towards real business results.

  • Instigating curiosity. Sometimes, you will need to move beyond data simplicity, so designating your ‘data champions,’ both internally and externally provides a clear point for deeper dive reporting. Providing appropriate levels of data can further instigate curiosity across functions, ranks, roles and partners, ultimately leading to improvements in performance and innovation.

Ultimately, the benefits of improved transparency across an organization through data democratization can pay real dividends. The upfront investment in technology and training is just that: an investment. Putting in place the right levers to effectively and ethically utilize your first party data is a proven long-term strategy for any business.

Due to the tech-neutral ethos of Matterkind we regularly vet, utilize, and build relationships with a vast array of addressable buying platforms. This provides us with a comprehensive and relatively unique view of the industry. Furthermore, through our DSP scorecards, UI feedback sessions, and roadmap conversations we are an active participant in driving the evolution of the addressable space. So what overarching trends do we see dominating DSP sales pitches and roadmaps so far in 2020?

The Evolution of SPO

“Supply path optimization” became a big topic last year but mostly focused on the manual whitelisting of exchanges by clients/buyers. In 2020 the phrase has expanded to describe a DSP’s suite of buying levers, bid shaving algorithms, throttling of duplicative bids, custom reports, and business deals designed to maximize media budgets by eliminating reselling and exposing hidden fees. Most major DSPs are now treating SPO as importantly as “brand safety” and are touting their specific approaches as value props.

  • What this means for Matterkind: We encourage all efforts to clean up the space and create efficiencies, but we must be careful to ensure that a DSP’s SPO suite does not conflict with our internal SPO strategy curated by the Kinesso Marketplace team. We have been working closely with most of the major omnichannel DSPs to coordinate efforts wherever possible but when in doubt please reach out to [email protected] especially when working with new/specialized platforms that may not already be incorporating our in-house guidelines.

The Death of the Cookie

Chrome’s announcement to end fingerprinting and 3rd party cookies threw gasoline on the fire that Safari and Firefox started in 2019. Despite an unclear deadline, many DSPs are already emphasizing their 1st or 3rd party contextual solutions and CTV/OTT inventory as these provide a means to target audiences in a more general way. Most of the biggest DSPs are confident that overall spending in their platforms will remain stable (and probably increase) despite an inevitable shift away from “old school programmatic” efforts such as direct-response display campaigns. Some DSPs are also developing proprietary user IDs for use within their ecosystem and are rolling out cross-screen planning tools which can utilize these IDs across various inventory types.

  • What this means for Matterkind: It is clear that addressable advertising will continue to thrive regardless of what the future holds for cookies. We are already ahead of the curve due to our ability to leverage Acxiom and Kinesso but we will continue to vet and test intriguing 3rd party solutions, not just on their own but also in how they complement the Kinesso product suite.

Each of these subjects will continue to be major topics throughout the remainder of 2020 and we can expect further evolution as the industry reacts to CCPA developments, the economic fallout of COVID-19, and the potential antitrust investigation of the Google ad suite to name just a few. We will continue to investigate and issue POVs and best practices as our industry develops.

First-party data is incredibly valuable for a brand. So, for an advertiser intent on activating first-party data in a digital capacity, there are three main considerations that must be addressed. First, one must be clear around the objectives of the activation(s) as these will determine the set up and the most relevant onboarding and matching partner. Second, one must be knowledgeable and honest about their first-party data and the resources available within an organization for cleaning, segmenting and usage of data on file. Third, since there are a variety of onboarding and matching vendors, each with a different methodology, one must do their due diligence in order to understand the best and right partner for the objectives of the initiatives.

In today’s post, I will focus on the first consideration. Stay tuned for my future posts which take a deep dive into understanding the cleanliness and portability of your own data and how one should choose a partner for onboarding, matching and reaching your first-party data in digital channels.

The best way to accomplish a successful onboarding and matching process is to first identify what you wish to accomplish. Determine the short-term and long-term goals for using your first-party data online. This is a critical component because if those goals are different you will need to choose a partner who can accomplish both objectives or you will need to determine priority and timing. Further, not all vendors can accomplish all objectives because their methodologies are specific to only one need.

Breaking that down, let’s address the goal of mass reach to your CRM database and to others who look like your customers. If this is your objective, then choosing a partner who can deliver high match and reach rates and who employs modeling techniques is a good option. However, if your goal is to activate segments of your database, for example, reach to lapsed customers only, then you will need to choose a partner with deterministic matching capabilities, a proven high degree of accuracy and the ability to actually reach or find those lapsed people. If your goal is to reach people across all of their devices in order to consistently story tell your messaging, then you must choose a partner who has a proven match key that houses identifiers by device. These identifiers must be appended to a person’s profile in order to accurately identify this person on all of their devices.

Lastly, determining measurement for these programs must be done up front. The measurement coupled with your goals will help determine who the appropriate vendor is for your matching. This is important because if you need reporting to the individual level and/or closed-loop measurement, you will need to work with an on-boarder who employs a deterministic method – that they know who the consumer is and can provide a match back report of those people who were exposed.

By clearly stating all of your objectives upfront, you are in the position to choose the most appropriate partner to onboard, match and syndicate your first-party data. Next we will review how to best evaluate your firm’s data situation for usage and for portability.