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Marketers & Publishers Keep Focus on ‘Data Centricity’ With More Than 44% Expecting to Achieve Level of Sophistication by 2019


Research from IAB Data Center of Excellence and Data & Marketing Association Shows Talent Gap Remains Significant Obstacle

PALM DESERT, CA (February 13, 2018)

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), its Data Center of Excellence, and the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) have released “The Data-Centric Organization 2018,” the results of a survey showing that U.S. marketers and publishers remain intensely focused on achieving “data centricity” across their organizations, with 90 percent responding that they either have or are developing an enterprise strategy centered on customer data. While only 9.8 percent of respondents described their organizations as “extremely” data-centric today, more than 44 percent said they expect to achieve that level of sophistication by 2019.

The research, compiled by Winterberry Group to refresh a 2016 survey of U.S. marketers, publishers and other data users, shows that the majority of marketers are implementing strategies to support data-centricity, but relatively few say they are driving results—with a greater number struggling to generate deliverables in 2017 than ever before. These results may seem counterintuitive given the significant investments many organizations are making in data and associated activation solutions, but executives shed light on the reasons, highlighting two key challenges:

  • The rigors associated with cross-channel data integration, management and activation—especially within complex enterprises that may be otherwise slow to innovate
  • The threat of new imminent regulation, such as the European Union’s GDPR—redirecting resources from data-centric organizational transformation

The study estimates that the most significant obstacle associated with achieving data centricity appears to be an industry-wide talent gap, particularly with respect to data analytics skills, management, and processing. In contrast, having a technology/IT skillset has declined in priority.

Data users also increasingly credit their supply chain partners with supporting their efforts to derive value from the use of data and optimizing use of marketing technology. The survey results also reveal a growing interest in seeing partners provide training for internal functional managers and an increasing demand for case studies and best practices from within the industry and outside sectors.

“Marketers and their business partners are working together to manage an ever-increasing volume and velocity of data,” said Neil O’Keefe, Senior Vice President of Content and Marketing, Data & Marketing Association. “Solutions that bring together all parts of the data and marketing ecosystem – such as DMA’s Identity Council – help marketers become more informed and more adept at utilizing data to deliver relevant customer experiences. This is a win for all involved, from the businesses who save on their marketing spend to the customers who receive an improved product and better experience.”

“Marketing strategies based on customer data have become table stakes not just a competitive advantage in today’s rapidly evolving marketing and retail environment,” said Orchid Richardson, Vice President and Managing Director, IAB Data Center of Excellence. “To drive success in a data-centric environment a well-trained, workforce is required.  The IAB Data Center of Excellence is working to address the talent gap with educational programs, insights, and guidance that will help expand the pool of qualified data professionals. This industry-wide need will only become more pressing as we navigate the new normal of the data-driven, consumer-centric, direct brand economy.”

“Data is presenting vast new opportunities for businesses to build insights, improve engagement and deliver better customer experiences,” said Jonathan Margulies, Managing Director, Winterberry Group. “For almost all organizations, though, achieving those tasks is difficult work—and growing even more difficult as data and technology proliferate. Our research clearly reveals that industry is up for the challenge.”

“The Data-Centric Organization 2018” was released at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, CA. Premiere sponsors of the research are Criteo, Deluxe, Epsilon, and Equifax; LinkedIn is a supporting sponsor. The complete study is available for download at iab.com/data-centric-organization-study.