6 Trends That Reinforce the Need for Unified Data Collection


ADOTAS – Increasingly, advertisers are finding it difficult to know whether consumers are paying attention to their ads and, more to the point, whether those ads are driving conversions. In some ways, the “big data” trend complicates that picture by providing so much information from varying sources that advertisers feel paralyzed to digest it all and take action. Because of this, many marketers have become vocal supporters of unified data collection systems as a means to simplify large data sets by zooming in on specific individuals to understand how they are making purchasing decisions.’

Of course, not all systems are created equal. Ad server and bid management tags on their own provide incomplete or unverified data, only accounting for individual channels, such as display or search, while omitting information from other channels. Site Analytics tools have their own flaws in only being able to see activities that result in a website visit, but what about all those activities that didn’t drive a consumer to your website? Isn’t it even more important to analyze those activities? Because each of these systems use their own cookie or identification system, it is nearly impossible to map these to each other. Additionally, ad servers and site analytics platforms often require expensive and time-consuming log transfers that delay an advertiser’s ability to act quickly to improve performance. The issue has been further exasperated as marketers have adopted omnichannel strategies.

Today, it’s entirely possible to get by relying on log file-based data collection. However, moving forward its doubtful log file-based systems will adequately support the needs of marketers as data proliferation accelerates.

Let’s take a look at a few trends that demonstrate why it’s time to move to more sophisticated tag-based unified data collection methods for building a robust analytics platform.

Trend No. 1: Mobile marketing and device proliferation. Mobile ad spending nearly doubled in 2013 and is expected to increase another 50 percent this year, according to eMarketer. By 2017, mobile will comprise more than half of all digital ad spending. Any advertisers relying on mobile as part of their current and future marketing strategy must be able to identify devices, track ad events and conversions and roll up that data to the user-level across devices. Without a sufficient unified data collection system in place and advanced attribution tools capable of analyzing this data to construct the consumer’s true path to purchase, marketers risk wasting mobile investments.

Trend No. 2: Migration away from traditional TV viewership to online video. Consumers are changing how and where they watch video programming, and mobile/tablet devices are rapidly growing as alternative viewing platforms. This offers advertisers the chance to overcome the challenges posed by the lack of user-level insight with traditional TV ads, and many brands are taking advantage. It also reinforces the increasing importance of digital and the need for solutions that provide both cross-channel and cross-platform attribution. Advertisers that want to maximize video investments need tools capable of tagging online video impressions and accurately integrating those touch point into the larger marketing mix to understand performance relative to other channels.

Trend No. 3: Leveraging audience data to target marketing. Whether you’re using a Data Management Platform (DMP) or other third-party audience data for segmentation or relying solely on first-party audience data for targeting, you’ll want a mechanism to verify ad impressions are reaching their intended audience. Luckily, established tagging systems simplify this process through syncing data across your marketing partners to ensure relevant audience data is integrated into attribution results, offering insight into how different segments are performing and highlighting new opportunities.

Trend No. 4: Increasing importance of content marketing in the mix. While social media, SEO, email, pay-per-click and media buying held steady, content marketing and mobile saw huge growth as shares of marketing focus in 2013. In fact, content marketing’s share of the pie grew from less than 19 percent to more than one-third. If advertisers expect to understand the true value of onsite and sponsored content engagement relative to other ads, tags allow a more flexible and deeper way to capture that data.

Trend No. 5: Incorporating offline conversions into online attribution reporting. Consider the fact that many companies still obtain the majority of their revenue streams through offline points of sale such call centers and brick and mortar retailers.  The ability to tie in these sources of revenue and understand the impact of your digital marketing tactics on increasing revenue is critical, and unlikely to be easily feasible using silo’d data sources. A unified attribution tag enables a variety of cookie syncs and partnerships with offline data providers to tie these offline activites to your online marketing so you can take real action.

Trend No. 6: Rapid adoption of programmatic buying. Real-time bidding is exceeding initial growth projections. According to recent projections, RTB display spending in the U.S. alone will account for roughly 29 percent of total digital display spending by 2017. That represents more than $9 billion. With digital budgets increasing and a mountain of new data to contend with arriving faster than ever before, marketers can’t afford to merely hope log-based systems scale adequately. Tags offer greater granularity and are better equipped to handle the programmatic world due to the ability to capture granular impression-level bid data versus just placement or partner level.

No one expects the amount, variety or speed of data to decline anytime soon. To avoid being overwhelmed by all that information, marketers should assess whether their organizations are prepared to capture, analyze and take action on the flood of information that will be available to them through a unified source. The opportunity to capture and analyze big data in order to find trends — then zoom in on specific patterns and deliver customized experiences that maximize results — is too important to miss.


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