Brands all talk, no action on first-party data adoption

data_newbieMarketers are talking a good game when it comes to adopting first-party data, with nearly 8 out of 10 advertisers saying their own customer information is business critical for audience targeting, yet only 2 out of 10 are actually embracing such a strategy.

So says the World Federation of Advertisers’ Programmatic, Data & Technology Global Survey 2020 – now in its fourth year – conducted in partnership with realtime advertising technology and infrastructure company IponWeb.

The results, based on global companies which spend about $76bn a year on marketing, shows programmatic trading channels account for more than two-fifths (41%) of global digital media investment, up from 16% in 2016, but the adoption of programmatic around the globe is uneven, with a mix of models being used, even in the same company. Regional splits show the current figure has hit 50% in the US, 31% in Europe and 20% in APAC.

However, the global trend is for ongoing increases in the use of programmatic channels.

The use of agency trading desks to buy media programmatically has been relatively consistent over the past four years; 74% of respondents currently trade this way compared to 72% in 2016. But as brands have sought to take greater control and ownership of their buying and data strategies, the use of independent trading desks has risen to 71%, up from 46% in 2016.

Meanwhile, 84% use an in-house brand trading desk or hybrid (managed service) model (up from 21% in 2016) and many respondents use a combination of approaches across their global footprint.

The report reveals that privacy concerns are driving marketers to wake up to the power of first-party data. Some 79% of respondents said first-party data was business critical for audience targeting, while audience creation/segmentation and campaign optimisation were both business critical for 63% of respondents.

Despite this, the use of first-party data is not widespread, however, with just 28% of respondents globally saying their own data was fully or significantly used.

Concern about pricing and data ownership is also fuelling the move to more transparent working as clients reject the concept of their agency as the principal or inventory reseller; globally, 57% of respondents say they have a ‘disclosed’ operating model with their trading desk. In 2016, a third of advertisers had a non-disclosed arrangement, but this figure is zero in the current wave of research.

IponWeb general manager of global solutions Joe Meehan said: “The key findings of this research resonate with our own experience, as the programmatic ecosystem evolves and continually recalibrates.

“In particular, there will be increasing pressure within the industry to deliver transparent supply chains, while data ownership and the relationships between the buy and sell sides will become key to activating brand data strategies.

“As programmatic continues its global expansion to become the dominant distribution channel for marketing messages, these factors will play an ever-greater role in an advertiser’s ability to deliver superior results, create brand advantage and drive ROI.”

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