Only 14 Percent of Marketers Are Confident When It Comes to Data [Study]

Though many marketers agree that big data is the top priority of this year, very few are confident in their ability to utilize that data, according to new research by Millward Brown Digital, WPP’s market research division.

Surveying more than 400 marketers from American brands, agencies and media companies, Millward Brown found that 42 percent of respondents consider using big data “the biggest opportunity facing marketers in 2015.” Of the other options – breaking down mobile and social silos, optimizing the role of video, location-based marketing and multiscreen marketing – only the latter was deemed most important by more than 10 percent of marketers.

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However, while marketers acknowledge data’s importance, only 14 percent feel confident that they leverage their consumer, media and transaction data effectively. In the inaugural “Getting Digital Right” study last year, that number was 39 percent.

“I think big data has become a bit of a synonym for ‘I need insights and answers to make my business perform better.’ People know they’re sitting on tons of data; they just need to find a way to unlock it,” says Kurt Heinemann, chief marketing officer at predictive analytics platform Reflektion, who thinks that drop in confidence comes down to greater awareness. “A year ago, they didn’t really know how untapped their own data was and now they’re realizing they haven’t dug in. While they might get some glimmering reports out of it, they’re not getting the insight.”

Half of brand marketers, more than 65 percent of those from media companies and agencies, consider targeting a key factor in budget allocation. Among brands, the general consensus was that website and content development are most important for targeting and would make up 18 percent of the perfect budget. Other high-priority areas include online advertising, social, mobile advertising and apps, and search. Mobile, in particular, is on the rise – while brands said it should be 12 percent the budget, they only gave it 8 percent last year.

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The main factor in determining budget for 50 percent of respondents is attribution. An inability to target ROI is considered a huge pain point for marketers, second only to “planning across consumer touchpoints, where consumers are interacting with the brand.” Many lack confidence around attribution, but if there was an increase in the ability to track ROI, 79 percent of marketers would up their mobile spend, a 25 percent jump from last year’s study.

The conflict around mobile spend comes down to what Heinemann calls “the smartphone conundrum.” The lack of measureable ROI makes it difficult for marketers to justify spending more on mobile, although they know mobile devices are the best places to execute personalized marketing.

“They see [personalization] on apps, they see it on Netflix, they see it on Pandora. And then they go to a website and have to scan through 80 shirts to find one they like,” Heinemann says. “We might be in an awkward place in digital marketing, where we’re looking at media budgets instead of looking at intelligent customer engagement through one-to-one personalization, which I think is what customers are screaming for.”

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