Mo’ Data, Mo’ Problems

There was a time—not so long ago, it seems—before smartphones and apps and social networks, before clouds and SaaS marketing suites, that digital marketing seemed so simple. “Ten years ago, we had a very simple way to measure data. It was all cookie-based attribution,” reminisces David Rodnitzky, CEO of 3Q Digital. “Now we have SDKs and mobile panels and linear attribution. Sophistication has begotten confusion, and marketers often don’t know if they’re making the right call.”

Rodnitzky pauses, then observes, “Mo’ data, mo’ problems.”

That certainly seems to be the proposition put forth in the findings of a study released today by Signal called “Solving the Identity Puzzle,” which also points out that the modern marketer’s sheer-face climb to a single view of the consumer is impeded by consumers expecting valet-style service. More than 60% of marketers said their metrics were incomplete and they were unable to personalize customer experiences the way they wanted to.

“An overwhelming majority of marketers know that building a unified view of the customer is essential to their ability to deliver true one-to-one marketing. But only a tiny sliver of marketers have reached that sought-after goal,” says the report, which bases its conclusions on online surveys of 171 brand marketers worldwide.

Six percent. That’s the “sliver” of practitioners who say current solutions provide them with an “adequate” single view of their customers. More than half (51%), meanwhile, said that either their systems have severe shortcomings or that they have yet to even implement any.

“It wasn’t too surprising that only six percent said they had a single view of the customer,” says Signal SVP of Marketing Joe Stanhope. “The study shows there are a lot of obstacles. There’s not just one thing that people stumble over.”

Technology, for one. Only 9% of marketers said they had a complete set of capabilities that are effective, while 29% said their solutions had gaps in them, and 22% said they didn’t really know how well their tech was performing. One agency data chief appreciated the honesty of the last group.

“That is not an uncommon attitude,” says Mark Donatelli, global head of strategy and planning for Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. “We have a client who told me, ‘Look, ad tech people show me reports saying retargeting’s working. Then another vendor says keep running these display ads. They’re working. I have no idea what’s working and what’s not working.’ Measurement is very important, but it’s past results.”

Signal’s report points out that, in trying to understand what works best across multiple channels, marketers are struggling with the data basics and are stymied in trying to employ more intricate campaigns. Failing to gather the necessary data from the proper channels, they’re left with fragmented data and incomplete customer profiles. Only 15% of marketers told Signal they were collecting sufficient data from all channels. More than half (55%) said they weren’t collecting the right multichannel customer data, whether or not they had adequate channel coverage.

More than two thirds of marketers said they were dissatisfied with device and channel coverage, availability of data, processing speed, and match rates and accuracy. “There’s not one make-or-break factor. It’s all hard,” Stanhope says. “You have to constantly monitor all of these capabilities and be good at everything. There’s a lot of complexity here, and it brings you to the question of do we make customer identity a discipline and practice all its own.”

It’s pioneer days in the practice of single-view, cross-channel marketing and anything can and will probably happen. For the time being, 3Q’s Rodnitzky thinks it’s a good idea for companies to play it safe while keeping an eye cocked for important innovations. “I think this comes down to choosing a marketing stack or suite like an Adobe or an Oracle aligning your programs with it,” he says. “That being said, you still have to double down and be open to adding other solutions as they progress.”

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