Firms still struggle to get actionable insights from data

digital twoMarketers might be ploughing ever more spend into digital channels but the vast majority have little confidence in the data driving those decisions despite the fact that data accuracy, measurement, and ROI are paramount.

That is one of the main conclusions of Nielsen’s 2022 Annual Marketing Report, entitled “Era of Alignment”, which quizzed more than 2,000 marketers worldwide, uncovering key priorities for the year ahead, but also where professionals have struggled over the past two years due to consumers’ changing media habits.

Ultimately, it illustrates how marketers must gain confidence in their data to focus equally on brand building and customer acquisition, doing so through both upper-funnel and lower-funnel planning and execution.

For instance, while more than two-thirds (69%) of marketers believe first-party data is essential for their strategies and campaigns, and nearly three-quarters (72%) believe they have access to quality data, only a quarter (26%) are fully confident in their audience data.

The Era of Alignment found marketers around the world are experiencing similar areas of success and challenges, including:

Brand awareness is marketers’ top objective
To reach this goal, brands need to leverage an array of channels to reach the widest audience, Nielsen maintains. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents stated that social media is the most effective paid channel, with TikTok and Instagram dominating spend.

Comparatively, TV and radio spend is significantly less, with an aggregate increase of 53% across global marketers. Customer acquisition is their second objective, showing that marketers must focus efforts on the entire customer journey.

Media fragmentation fuels need for holistic measurement
Only 54% of marketers are confident in measuring ROI of the full-funnel. Remove online and mobile video and confidence in measuring ROI across all other channels is under 50% globally. While nearly half of marketers plan to increase their spending on podcasts, their confidence in measuring the ROI of that investment is 44%.

Using data to champion personalised marketing
The increasing proliferation of channels produces an abundance of unique data sets. However, more than a third (36%) of marketers reckon data access, identity resolution, and deriving actionable insights from data is either extremely or very difficult.

With the rise of connected TV (CTV) this presents new challenges to traditional targeting solutions. CTV is a growing focus for global marketers, with 51% planning to increase their over-the-top/CTV spending in the coming year. The report highlights that Americans streamed almost 15 million years’ worth of content across subscription- and ad-supported platforms last year.

The rise of purpose-driven initiatives
Separate Nielsen research shows over half of American consumers (52%) purchase from brands that support causes they care about; similarly, more than 36% expect the brands they buy to support social causes.

While global marketers say their brands are emphasising purpose, Nielsen data shows that 55% of consumers are not convinced that brands are fostering true progress.

Nielsen chief marketing and communications officer Jamie Moldafsky said: “This research showcases that marketers want to put money into channels to deliver immediate ROI, however, we also see that they must be agile in the year ahead and work across the entire marketing funnel to reinforce brand awareness and acquire more customers.

“With the upcoming elimination of third-party cookies, it’s understandable to see marketers prioritising personalisation and aligning their brand with causes their customers care about.”

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