Understanding the State of Audience Data for Marketers in 2018

Trevor Rasmussen January 19th, 2018
Marketing Insights

Are you a marketing professional who is confused and maybe a little overwhelmed by the juggernaut of big data and how it’s being used for customer acquisition, retention, or cross-selling? You’re not alone. Audience data is fundamentally changing the marketing landscape, but it’s still all brand new.

Data analytic experts are in high demand because there’s a shortage of skilled data pros out there, so chances are your organization working with a partner to help you make the data more actionable. It’s also likely that you are you’re not quite sure how your competition is using data. It’s a brave new world out there. One of the problems is that the data phenomenon — specifically how much companies are spending on it and how they’re using it — hasn’t been studied or documented accurately and completely. Until now.

The State of Data 2017 report, researched and compiled by the Winterberry Group with the support of Deluxe, is the first industry-wide effort to substantiate the data marketplace. In an extensive effort concluded in November 2017, Winterberry studied data from product, service, and technology providers representing virtually every segment of the U.S. data marketplace.

The report was designed for the advertising, marketing, and media sectors to better understand the extent to which, and how, data is being used regarding customer acquisition and engagement. Examining the state of data through the lens of budgetary expenditures directed to third-party data assets, services, technologies and hybrid activation solutions, the goal is to give companies a benchmark for their own investments and use of data.

Key insights

  • U.S. companies spent $20.2 billion in third-party audience data and data activation solutions that support their advertising, marketing, and media-related initiatives. That is a staggering number to think about and it’s likely only going to grow as more institutions get on board
  • Users will invest most of their data budgets on services and technology offered by third-party providers, rather than on the data itself. This makes sense when you really think about it. The data itself isn’t powerful you need the right people and technology to make the data actionable and then to build the campaigns and communications to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right offer.
  • Marketers will invest most significantly on datasets that deliver a range of omnichannel identifiers, including direct mail, email, advertising, website content, and other channels that support their ability to identify and engage with customers.

How U.S. companies are using big data

  • Hosting and management: Managed services and technologies related to building and maintaining customer and prospect databases, customer relationship management, and campaign management in support of marketing and audience engagement.
  • Integration and processing: The solutions focused on processing, cleansing, integrating, and securing the above data sources.
  • Analytics, modeling, and segmentation: Managed services that support the development of audience insights through segmentation, predictive modeling, measurement, and spending/campaign attribution.

The report goes into much greater detail on all the above areas. You can find specifics in the report here. Keep your eyes open for the follow-up report, “The Data-Centric Organization 2018” which will cover how organizations should be inventing themselves (and what kind of progress we’ve made so far) to support data-driven approaches in marketing.

Bottom line from Winterberry? Data is here to stay. It will play an increasingly critical role in virtually all commercial interactions, demanding that marketers respond in kind with strategies, infrastructure, and other resources.

At Deluxe, we know tackling data can be a challenging for even the best marketing organizations. Let us take the mystery out of it so you can focus on using it.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to hear some of the key findings from the State of Data 2017 and Data-Centric Organization reports in person, Winterberry Group will be presenting at Deluxe Exchange 2018 next month. There is still time to register, so swing by our site to learn more about it.

This content is accurate at the time of publication and may not be updated.