Brands Increasingly Choose Data Ownership

In an effort to maintain complete control over their user data and ultimately improve their targeting capabilities, more and more brands are opting to own their own data rather than relying on third-party sources to share what they’ve collected.

Having used its own data-management platform (DMP) for a few years now, Allstate recently transitioned its digital media buying in-house as well. As of this month, the insurance giant is handling its own programmatic buying rather than relying on Starcom MediaVest, which has worked with Allstate for more than 30 years.

“Part of it is being early adopters of programmatic and the other part is, technology has evolved to where it made it a lot easier for brands to do that,” says Bob Intarakumhang, senior manager of digital analytics at Allstate. “It’s not to say Starcom doesn’t bring value to the table; for me, we don’t really need the agency to be the go-to from a media-buying aspect anymore.”

The partnership isn’t over, however; the agency will continue to do Allstate’s media planning.

Handling its own programmatic buying will be more cost-efficient for Allstate and improve the company’s capacity for prescriptive targeting and looking at consumer behaviors. Often, when using a third-party agency, brands aren’t able to delve into their audiences to the extent that they’d like.

“We’ve felt for many years now that eventually, the advertising world is going to shift from buying media to buying audiences,” Intarakumhang says.

So far, only 13 percent of brands have brought programmatic video buying in-house, according to AOL’s 2014 U.S. State of the Video Industry Report. However, 88 percent of the brands surveyed are making it a priority to do so this year. Similarly, 63 percent of brands are using a DMP; of the remaining 37 percent, more than half will start using one in 2015.

“Brands are obviously getting super smart about data collection, organization, and activation,” says Vijay Rao, senior vice president of sales and client strategy at, AOL’s video advertising division. “If I’m collecting this data, it’s an incredible value for me and potentially the thing that differentiates me from other brands and competitors.”

Echoing Intarakumhang’s sentiments, Rao stresses the importance of the control aspect within data ownership. Companies like Facebook and Google have an endless supply of user data. When brands rely on these sites, they become dependent on these third-party walled gardens passing their intelligence back, unsure if they’re actually going to.

Using their own DMP, as opposed to outsourcing them, brands can see have a much more accurate look at how their campaigns perform, which can ultimately improve targeting.

“There’s this notion or expectation of DMP being the central place where you aggregate all this data,” Rao says. “What it allows you to do is have a single view of the user. That way, you can manage your budget holistically and manage your audience across every touch point.”

Being unable to track people is inefficient, so Rao believes data ownership will continue to be a theme for marketers. Within the next year and a half, he expects that every major media player will either have or be in the process of getting a DMP.

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