Data-tech for more than tech’s sake.

By Aaron Petrous, Performance & Operations Director

Brands recognize the big promise of data but, on the whole, haven’t figured out how to use it. Find solutions—amid new privacy regulations—for data that works for you.

December 01, 2020

Data is everywhere, but how do you leverage it?

To date, humans have created 18 zettabytes of data. That’s 1.8 x 1022 bytes of cave drawings, sacred texts, and Instagram posts. With more data, more sources, and more ways to manage it, data has only gotten harder to handle.

Sifting through collected data is time consuming and difficult, which is why marketers are now among the most technically adept members of organizations outside of IT professionals. A further push toward digital experiences fueled by the pandemic has forced businesses to look for new efficiencies and deliver on some of the most promising aspects of data and technology. But to deliver on those promises takes a careful kind of data strategy.

Most brands are not asking the right questions.

First make sure you’re focused on collecting the data that counts. This is more important than ever, since Google and Apple have announced they will be phasing out support for third-party cookies. Why does this matter? Up to this point, third-party cookies have been the workhorse of the ad tech ecosystem. Now that they’ve received their death sentence, many brands are fearful they won’t have all the data they need to measure results.

But companies fearing the loss of cookies are focused on the wrong problem. Frankly, the benchmarks of success that third-party data provides (cost per thousand, return on investment) are getting a little long in the tooth. Those data points will always be important as a baseline, but they aren’t exactly driving deep insight about customers. For that, we need to look a little closer to home.

First-party data should be your first priority.

Instead of relying on third-party data, market to the customers you already know through first-party data. (This comprises all the behavioral data that can be gathered while people are using your websites or apps.) It’s the most valuable type of data, because it’s based on direct interactions with your brand. And it’s more important than ever as new privacy regulations begin to phase out things like third-party cookies—altering digital advertising as we know it.

With first-party data, you can create a single view of the customer and build segments to create personalized experiences. Rely on first-party data to write your customer’s story, then use third-party data as an extra boost to give that story context and color.

Tap into your most trusted resource.

While the case for first-party data is clear, in order to capitalize on it, you need to have a plan. Follow these steps to transform your customer data into gold.

  1. Build your team.

Data transformation is not just an “IT thing.” It requires a blend of business, technology, and process expertise; your team needs to source capabilities across multiple disciplines. Start by assembling an adoption team to define and champion the vision. Then build a core team of developers, analysts, and strategists to bring it to life.

  1. Define your strategy.

Identify precisely what you want to do with your data. The first mistake is a goal that’s too broad—you can’t ask data to do everything at once. Think about the full collection of technologies your business relies on to achieve its goals. Carefully crafting a holistic plan now will save you from having to rebuild your platform from the ground up if issues arise.

  1. Connect the data.

Move data between your systems automatically, so you can focus on your most important work. If you’re at a large company, you might have access to a data engineering team; leverage them to make sure the data points you care about are being connected to the tools you actually use. If your business is small, platforms like Zapier can give you data-moving superpowers for a wide range of industry tools.

  1. Optimize your efforts.

It’s one thing to launch a campaign. It’s another to determine if it’s actually working. Optimization and automation help you make the most of your resources. Automate any aspects of testing you can to save valuable time and money as you advance your marketing efforts.

Unlock the power of your first-party data.

Be proactive about doing data right, and it can work wonders for you. Some organizations will have the resources they need to drive these strategies in-house. For those who don’t, an agency like Thesis can help. See how we put data to use for Taco Bell.