New benchmark survey shows executives plan to place greater emphasis on solving cross-channel measurement challenges this year.
The IAB Data Center of Excellence and Winterberry Group have released what both groups say will become an annual benchmark of how digital marketing and media practitioners are focusing their data practices and investments over time.
The first annual Outlook for Data 2016 shows that just over half (50.5 percent) of respondents said they devoted most of their time and resources to programmatic media buying for established ad formats — namely, display — in 2015.
In the coming year, however, respondents say they are planning to shift focus to solving cross-channel measurement, attribution and audience matching challenges, as well as expanding programmatic to new formats such as mobile, video and addressable television.
When asked about the next big thing for data in 2016, 69.6 percent of respondents chose “Cross-device audience recognition,” followed by 52.2 percent who answered “sophisticated analytics/modeling to target audience members.”
The survey respondents included 120 IAB special-interest council members, who are primarily senior-level executives at both publisher and technology member companies.
“From our perspective the real salient takeaway from the study is the focus on cross channel,” said Jonathan Margulies, Managing Director of Winterberry Group, by phone Tuesday. “We’ve been talking about it for years now in aspirational terms: ‘What if we could identify users across channels, devices, in-store, email and social and communicate with them seamlessly?’ We get a lot of nodding heads, but not a lot of organizations have set out to do the hard work that’s going to make it happen. It’s very clear the mandate to do so is finally here.”
We’ll have to watch to see if 2016 will really be the year where cross-channel audience recognition becomes a reality in which marketers can really recognize audiences as they go from touch point to touch point and deliver messages in a customer-centric manner. “We’re going to be looking at how people are doing that,” says Margulies. “I think this is a very positive and optimistic mindset; the question is whether this is really going to happen” in 2016.
Respondents say the biggest roadblocks to achieving their data-driven initiatives in 2016 are technology limitations and a lack of internal expertise in using what technology is currently available.
The survey points to a business mandate to make cross-channel a reality. Executives said the biggest driver for investing in data solutions is customer demand, along with increasing emphasis on marketing investment accountability and the fact that so much more first-party data is now available.
This year, Margulies expects “[w]e’re going to see this demand for cross-channel solutions across enterprise-level brands… Whether they can make it a reality for a marketing manager to open up a dashboard and see user interactions across touch points is another thing.” Instead, Margulies posits, cross-channel audience management may simply become a cost of doing business, in the same way that the demand for better creative never goes away. Either way, the new survey “allows us to put a stake in the ground and get a sense over time of how this is going to change.”
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)