Why we have to connect our disconnected data

Why we have to connect our disconnected data
Opinion: Strategy Leaders

Agencies need to do more to support brands to connect their data to make their media more effective and meaningful.


For all the talk about the value of data, and there’s been a lot of talk, it seems that many brands could be in danger of losing out because of siloed data stacks and disconnects. And this isn’t about different departments: it can happen even within a single marketing function.

As a result, many are not maximising their potential to create the right audience profiles that can be taken all the way through to campaign activation.

There are some obvious areas, like CRM data, where opportunities for cross- and up-selling are being left on the table because the data isn’t connected to the new business stream. And in many organisations, audience segmentations are often totally disconnected from both CRM and media activations.

This is holding brands back from making the most of their segmentations, which can be significant investments that ‘sit in a drawer’ when they could be better connected to other datasets within the organisation, helping make better-informed business and brand decisions. First- and second-party data are other areas where there is often little cross-connectivity.

Bringing together those disparate data sets can make a huge difference to the decisions and actions agencies take on behalf of our clients.

The data they want you to have

Combining consumer data from multiple sources is eye-opening for brands, as they will often discover an audience — or a subset of a particular existing audience — they have never previously considered.

Many brands also find it very hard to put a value onto the zero-party data (ZPD) that customers have shared with them intentionally. They generally have to over-invest to acquire data unless they already have a lot of it by the nature of the organisation.

Brands are looking to better understand the value of a record of ZPD, but it’s often impossible to prove. And yet without proving the financial impact, it can be hard to get all departments moving as one.

Who do you love?

Connected data can inform marketers of the qualities their consumers love most about their business. This is what enables, for example, credit card providers to offer membership rewards programmes that are tailored to their audiences’ particular preferences.

It allows brands to discover the passions and interests that really resonate with their audience. By finding insights on real consumers, they can make media more effective and meaningful — driving personalisation at scale to create impact in the communities where the brand matters most.

That my claimed audience likes music can never be as informative in creating comms and ideas as knowing that X individual loves Travis Scott.

By connecting disparate data pools, brands can also make media, creative and messaging more impactful. Another example, a student offer as part of a magazine subscription database needs to be combined with data that verifies whether those signed up are still, or ever have been, students.

Reaching the right (and real) people is a first step, but then charging them the right money can actually unlock millions of pounds.

Unpicking the data silos

At a more strategic level, the barriers to unpicking growth can often relate to the three interlinked S’s of silos, self-control and simplicity.

Business structures and the related data sources — even within marketing — are often siloed, which is linked with self-control as the silos are an entirely understandable result of individuals wanting to focus on delivery in their particular discipline.

We all understand the quest for simplicity, in managing goals and targets in your own space, which can result in brands not having a single source of data truth across the entire organisation.

Leading to the unintended consequence — disconnection.

All together now

It’s not rocket science to understand that different piles of unconnected, siloed data aren’t going to be helpful for a brand trying to build a better picture of its audiences. The challenge is to identify what exists before any attempt can be made to integrate it.

In essence, a lot of organisations are sitting on data they either don’t realise they have or don’t appreciate the value of — and as media agencies, we have to support them to maximise the data potential if we want to make the ideas we develop even more personalised, more relevant and ultimately more effective.

Enyi NwosuEnyi Nwosu is UK chief strategy officer at IPG media agency UM.

Strategy Leaders is our commitment to showcase the media industry’s most important strategy issues and debates, as well as focus on notable ad campaigns and from a media-planning lens.
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