APAC digital advertising: Too much money on tech, not enough on people
By Digital News Asia June 14, 2016
- Data, everywhere; not a drop that’s actionable
- Marketers are not asking the right questions
A REGIONAL committee of digital advertising and marketing stakeholders believes there has been an ‘over-investment’ on technology and an ‘under-investment’ on people who can use these tools in Asia Pacific.
The Measurement & Standards (M&S) Committee was formed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Singapore (IAB Singapore) to investigate why companies are not harnessing the power of data and remain stuck in traditional organisational structures.
According to the bureau, Asia Pacific’s top digital minds gathered with over a dozen senior executives to study and discuss breaking down silos within the digital industry for a roundtable discussion, which ultimately saw the publication of a whitepaper (PDF).
“Establishing this committee now means that companies such as Google, LinkedIn, comScore, SapientNitro, Yahoo, Xaxis, Hewlett-Packard and others can all contribute and teach the region how to be more successful when it comes to leveraging their data,” said IAB Singapore chief executive officer Miranda Dimopoulos (pic above).
Among the issues the committee tackled was the challenge of breaking the hype around data while finding effective ways to train a workforce on how to use it, IAB Singapore said in a statement.
At the core was the importance of focusing on people instead of technology. Indeed the technology and vendor landscape that enables the collection, storage, analysis and visualisation of data has evolved significantly, outpacing the rate at which we have evolved how we think about people, skills and hiring, it added.
“You can have a Tesla but if you don’t have a licence, you can’t drive it,” quipped Ervin Ha of YouGov, in the statement issued by IAB Singapore.
In other words, it’s not enough to have a shiny new tool. You need the right people with the right skills in place to make a tool useful, it added.
Beyond gathering a lot of data, companies should look at building or buying both the skills needed to analyse this data, and the capabilities to digest multiple sources of information into a clear stream of actionable insights, the whitepaper suggested.
Built for the industrial age
The whitepaper also said that for many companies today, data assets are stuck in silos of traditional research and analytics/IT departments.
These silos are reinforced by a range of factors, including but not limited to existing talent, roles and responsibilities, hiring plans, P&Ls (profit-and-loss), vernacular, jargon and office culture.
Some silos are a necessary division of people and skills required for a business to run, but the challenge is that the silos established around functions that operate on data do little to create efficiency or productivity, often moving towards separate business objectives and success metrics.
Often, clients say, “We have the data somewhere but we don’t have access to it,” according to Pavel Bulowski of Keboola.
This speaks to a specific problem around functional silos that restrict the flow of data throughout the business, the IAB Singapore whitepaper said.
Overall, traditional organisational structures are preventing many businesses from getting the most out of their data. Overcoming this will involve breaking out of comfort zones and rethinking the ways in which we collect, store, manage, share and communicate data across the business, it added.
Not that marketers are blameless either: The whitepaper also suggested that the biggest problem facing marketing professionals is that they don’t ask the right questions.
“The real issue is people understanding the fundamental business questions they’re trying to solve,” said Tim Kelsall of Kantar.
“It’s often the case that you’ve got the technology and data, but it’s not intelligently applied back to solve the actual business issue,” he added.
Unfortunately, asking the right questions is not the only challenge. Knowing how to effectively apply the insight you’ve gained is another.
YouGov’s Ha said it is common for marketers to not “actually know what they want to do with their data.”
Another challenge is choosing the right course of action based on what you’ve learned from your data, according to the whitepaper.
For example, let’s say you’ve mined your data and identified new customer segments that you want to target.
This is only half of the problem as you need to work out how to actually connect with them in a timely and relevant way.
The channels you should use, the messaging and the creative are all elements that can be informed by data, but actually piecing it together to craft a winning strategy and execution isn’t something your data will tell you.
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