“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is by Ramsey McGrory, President & CEO of AddThis.
Follow Ramsey McGrory (@nycmcg)
In the world of magic quadrant charts, I like this as a starting point for a discussion about data:
Starting with the Conclusion
Access to data is not a commodity, and it won’t be in 10 or 20 years. After all the regulatory and privacy questions are settled, advertising, publishing and e-commerce will be powered by a combination of offline, online, anonymous and personal data. The companies that emerge as long-term leaders will be the ones that provide infrastructure, distribution and services that power the smartest consumer engagement tools with the variety, velocity and volume of data available.
If you spend time considering the moves of consumer technology and diversified IT companies, you will realize how data is the thread that binds it together. To deliver on the vision of holistic consumer engagement, there are three critical layers: infrastructure, data, and services. While infrastructure commoditizes over time, the ability to leverage and understand data does not. So, staying in one quadrant is dangerous given the competitive landscape.
Setting the Table
The infrastructure for consumer engagement started consolidating in 2007 when Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, WPP, AOL and others acquired ad servers. That consolidation continues today among DSPs, DCOs, SSPs, DMPs, website analytics and most recently social CRM players. The strategy of many large companies in the digital B2B and B2C spaces is to consolidate the ‘paid, earned, owned’ infrastructure where a brand’s consumer engagement is managed centrally based on any and all touch points.
As the largest companies move from strategy to execution, data grows in importance. In its many forms, data is being infused into advertising, publishing and e-commerce, and fueling material improvements at each point in the value chains of advertising (research, planning, targeting, measuring) and publishing / e-commerce (attract audience, engage, monetize, measure).
The Evolving Data Landscape
As the variety, velocity and volume of data increase, it’s worth looking at the different players. My intention is to create a framework and provide examples rather than be Terry Kawaja here.
On the X-axis, imagine two ends of a ‘visibility’ spectrum – Aggregated / Anonymous and Personal. On the Y-axis, imagine two ends of a ‘source’ spectrum – Offline and Online.
In the A quadrant, there are a number of examples of offline anonymous data such as census, crime statistics or government spending. In the B quadrant, examples of this data are voter file, criminal records, retail data co-ops, transactional data sets and measurement panels. Many companies aggregate, maintain, analyze and activate these data sets for outbound marketing, direct mail, CRM, POS and political campaigns. There are scale players such as Experian, Acxiom, Equifax and Nielsen and vertical players such as IXI (finance), Catalina (retail) and Polk (auto). These businesses have operated for decades.