As advertisers demand more transparency and consumers demand more privacy, data quality becomes evermore important. How are marketers adjusting to improve accuracy in their campaigns and measurement while maintaining compliance with an ever increasing array of privacy laws? In short, they are investing more heavily in data.

According to a study by the Winterberry Group and the IAB, audience data activation solutions grew notably in 2018. Specifically, data management, processing, & integration spending grew 25%, now accounting for nearly $5 billion in marketing spend in the United States alone.

While making sense of the data continues to be a concern, growth in analytics, modeling, and segmentation saw slower growth in 2018, albeit still accounting for $2.26 billion in annual spend.

The rapid growth of data management investment relative to analytics suggests that marketers are more concerned with digging through their data to build a foundation of  compliance & proper utilization more than they are concerned with building projections off of this data.

After all, building models & projections off of low quality data — or data that will become unavailable once the next privacy law goes into effect — does not provide a foundation for solid & stable growth.

To ensure their data is both compliant with relevant regulatory bodies  and also of high quality, marketers are turning to martech partners for help. If they are working with an enterprise class tool, they’re likely finding that the AI-based targeting solutions they are using are inherently compliant. However, if they are working with smaller DSPs and providers reliant on device specific identity graphs, the outlook isn’t as rosy.

Between Apple’s ITP 2.0 updates and continued fortification of the walled gardens, providers reliant on rudimentary data & targeting solutions will soon face a choice. Either they can continue to target based on continually depreciating audience pools & hope clients don’t mind the reduced performance, or they can admit their shortcomings & invest in solutions that are sustainable for years to come.

For advertisers considering which vendors to work with as they clean up their data in 2019, here are a few questions that are key to ask:

  • How are they future-proofing themselves against inevitably world wide adoption of privacy laws like GDPR or the California Consumer Privacy Act?
  • How can they effectively reach individuals who leverage Apple’s ITP 2.0?
  • What really goes into their look-alike modeling?
  • To what extent are they reliant on third party data?
  • What data partners are they working with? Are those partners privacy compliant?

In short, advertisers deserve to know that they are resting on a data foundation that is reliable, compliant, and sustainable. Anything less is simply unacceptable.