Last week it was my pleasure to be part of the ‘Data, Data, Data’ panel at The Drum’s Programmatic Punch event in London. Despite our different perspectives from different corners of the industry, it struck me that there was a remarkable level of agreement on our panel about the challenges facing this part of the marketing industry. For the issues facing advertisers about collecting and using audience data to improve marketing performance all boil down to one thing: the gap between the hypothetical potential of data and the rather different, practical reality.

The potential of being able to target individual consumers at scale and with pinpoint accuracy sounds hugely attractive, as all grand visions do. And yet the day-to-day reality is that so much of the data being used isn’t nearly as accurate as is claimed, and very often it’s not being implemented properly. As we discussed on the panel, it’s like the big vision of “£350m a week to the NHS” painted in white on the side of Boris’ big red bus during the EU Referendum. In principle it sounded great, and doubtless proved to be a vote-winner. The reality more than three years on is rather nuanced; there’s a lot more devil in the detail.

On the panel I didn’t raise my observations from some theoretical consultant’s viewpoint. I’ve been building large scale digital advertising capabilities for companies such as Sky and AOL for the last twenty years. And at Ebiquity, the work we undertake for advertisers is all done by ex-trading desk, DMP, and adtech professionals. It’s from this first-hand, practical experience that we base our observations.


The article was featured in The Drum on 09/12/2019.

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