The problem with data: 64% of advertisers don’t know where their data sources come from

A whopping 95% of marketers are using first- and third-party data, yet 64% of them do not actually know where their data sources are coming from. A new study by Bazaarvoice and Advertising Age has found that despite a general appreciation for data-driven advertising, marketers are looking for more transparency from their data partners.

Based on interviews with over 300 marketers, agencies and brands, the use of first and third-party data is expected to continue to grow from 42% of data-driven campaigns in 2017 to 45% next year.

However, 28% of agency respondents said they were only somewhat or not familiar with their first-party data. That figure was 18% for brand marketers.

The biggest concern with data for advertisers is ‘freshness’ of the data. Advertisers want to make sure they are reaching the right targets. However, over a fifth of agency respondents and 26% of brand marketers do not know how often their data sources get updated.

The problem with not knowing is that it leads to mistrust. Indeed, 75% of agency buyers and marketers are not actually confident that the data they are using can reach in-market consumers. And although almost all of the surveyed advertisers (91%) were using third-party data, just 23% of them were confident that their partners delivered against KPIs.

Almost 10% of respondents were not at all clear about where their data sources came from.

Naturally, all that doubt is leading over half of agency respondents to favour first-party data. That figure is even higher among marketers with 62% preferring to use first-party data.

But what makes data “good data”? According to respondents, engaging with ratings and reviews or a product detail page was the best indicator for good data. Meanwhile, purchasing similar products and analyzing lookalike behaviour from consumers were also good indicators that data was doing its job right.

For data providers, it appears that brand marketers (37%) want more innovation. Only 22% of agency respondents felt the same way. However, both sides agree that there is room for growth when it comes to utilising smart data within their campaigns.

Toby McKenna, senior vice president of global advertising at Bazaarvoice, explains:

“Based on our research with Ad Age, it’s clear that using data in digital advertising is not going away, but marketers must ask the right questions about their data and demand more transparency from their partners to achieve returns on their ad spend. Thirty-four percent of brand marketers and 24 percent of agency partners believe their data partnerships lack innovation, so there is a lot of room for improvement.”