DataXu Study: Marketers Embrace Digital Space, Don’t Know How to Manage the Data

Inplace #2

ADOTAS – Digital marketing management platform provider DataXu released the results of its 2012 Digital Marketing 2.0 Study, which gauged the sentiment of over 300 marketing executives about the data resources available to them and their teams’ ability to use that data to their business advantage. (Social media consultancy Human 1.0 and non-profit think tank the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) carried out the survey on behalf of DataXu between October of 2011 and January of 2012.) The results indicate that while marketers by and large feel it’s important to ramp up their efforts in digital marketing, many also feel uncertain about how to derive the right insights from data and act on those insights. And yet, at the same time, marketers tend to not reach out to IT departments for assistance when it comes to choosing the right marketing technology, even though IT might be more familiar at the outset with what managing and analyzing data might entail.

Let’s lay out some of those figures: Among the study’s respondents, 72 percent noted their organizations had made some kind of a budget shift from traditional to digital advertising channels in the past year — 55 percent said more than 25 percent of their budgets had switched from traditional to digital. Furthermore, over 80 percent said they expected the shift to continue over the coming year, an 75 percent said they believe digital marketing campaigns will help their companies “dramatically improve” business.

In spite of the fact that this shift in attention and dollars toward the digital world is happening, 58 percent of respondents said they themselves didn’t have the skills or the technology to perform analytics on their marketing data (30 percent cited lack of technology, 28 percent lack of analytics).  Only 15 percent said they involved IT in selecting the technology or software they use to leverage their data.

“There is a chasm for marketers and brands between IT group and marketing department,” acknowledged DataXu CEO Mike Baker in a recent phone conversation. “It’s wide.” The way tech and marketing speak to each other isn’t the same in every kind of company, he elaborated. “There tends to be more integrated thinking on the publisher side, if you want to think of Google and Facebook as a publisher,” he said, but it’s another story for “brand marketers, who have really been relying on other people to tell them where to spend the money.” He specified Fortune 500 brands: “That’s where I see the chasm, dealing with the data deluge.”

Baker reflected on the importance of riding the wave of change as the importance of being in the digital space grows. “We’re in the era of the digital lifestyle,” he said. While he said that among marketers, advanced technology and Big Data “[hasn’t] been a constituency of the IT department,” he remarked that “as marketers sort of chase consumers, it is bringing marketers into the digital lifestyle,” where they’re face to face with rich data about their customers.

“Marketing is shifting its paradigm to an engaged conversation,” commented Baker. “Where are the people? Which of these things is causing people to share this with a friend or become a fan of the brand?” These insights are terribly important in making marketing decisions, but to answer these questions, one needs to understand how to read the data.

When it comes to what the survey’s respondents said their biggest barrier to solving these data problems, said Baker, “They’re saying a platform, which is music to our ears. We thought they would say, ‘We need the people.'” (DataXu, let’s point out, provides a platform that aims to help marketers manage their data.) But nonetheless, he advised businesses whose marketing teams are struggling to make sense of data to “institutionalize the learning” instead of chasing after the hot “solution” of the day. He encouraged a wide lens in approaching these issues, as well. “There’s a shifting ecosystem,” he said. For example, he wondered aloud, “Is Google a media source, or should I buy my tools from them? There’s a lot of blurring of lines out there.”

Baker pointed out that as DataXu and other companies had discovered through similar research, “It turns out companies more involved in trying digital marketing had more success at it. It’s probably something you should get involved in yourself if you’re an enterprise. You need to go deep with it and become an expert, and come out on top of it.”