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Do You Own Your Data?


As a marketer, you generate and have access to a ton of data. From website to offline to media data there's certainly no shortage. The popular stat that digital data will double every two years is staggering.


With this exponential growth, a lot of energy and investment is being directed towards data storage and collection technologies. While these moves are important, marketers need to be asking an extremely important question: do I own my data?


Do I own my data?

Murky Waters

Working through a typical digital media buying scenario the answer becomes murky. Data is gathered from a website via a pixel, stored and modeled in a DSP, and then activated across hundreds or thousands of sites via a complex web of exchanges, networks, and publishers. Each impression offers a wealth of data points that are valuable for learning, modeling, analytics and more. As a marketer, you may logically believe that this is your data, but is it?


The troubling thing is that contractually, most marketers don't actually own this data. It's either owned by their agency, the vendors, or a confusing combination of the two. Spurred by the ANA's transparency initiative, marketers are starting to ask tough questions. Some have even initiated audits, only to discover that their contracts do not grant them full data ownership or even rudimentary access.

As a litmus test, can you request and receive full log file data from your DSPs, ad server, and measurement vendors?

You authorized the campaign, approved the IO, and paid the invoice, so you should be able to access the data. As a litmus test, can you request and receive full log file data from your DSPs, ad server, and measurement providers? For most, the answer is no. Without this data it is impossible to truly audit your supply chain. Without this data it is impossible to actually know exactly where your dollars went, what fees were taken, and to understand their true impact.


A Call To Action

The digital transparency revolution is well under way. Contracts are under review, programmatic in-housing is accelerating, and marketers are taking charge of the supply chain. Understanding agency trading desk take rates and DSP fees is a great first step, but don't stop there. Marketers should demand full data ownership. Log data should be accessible, independently stored, and frequently audited to ensure compliance. If you do not currently own your log data, begin by asking your agencies and vendors for it. You may have some tough, awkward conversations, but it will start you on the path to transparency and true data ownership. If you believe that data is one of your most valuable assets, and many do, this is a critical success factor for your digital efforts.

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