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Five steps to build a global media data strategy to support marketing accountability

by Matthew Greenhouse
June 06, 2018

My favorite part of my job is having the privilege to travel the world and talk with brands. I get to learn what their biggest strategic initiatives are, what keeps them up at night, and how Mediaocean products can help them. 

Lately, much of the conversation is focused on driving accountability across the ecosystem, and as part of that, the need to embrace data as core competence to improve transparency, maximize every media dollar, and measure and prove campaign impact. 

In order to make this a reality, it is absolutely imperative that brands centralize their marketing data and information across in-house, agencies, channels, markets – all execution entities. 

One place to rule them all
The Winterberry Group's survey of marketers in North America indicates that marketers are already thinking this way—with nearly 50% saying that centralizing ownership of data would be one of the most important changes that their organization could make to derive value from their data. Standardizing data protocols, internally and with partners, is also a top priority.

Acting on this new way of thinking about media data will result in significant improvements for any organization, but it will come with challenges. 

Most brands have dozens of partners worldwide and maintain different planning and buying software, KPIs, and currencies in each market. But it is precisely because of these challenges that brands need to implement a foundational global strategy that centralizes all media data across geographies, channels, in-sourced marketing, and agency activity. 

The following steps outline my recommended course of action for launching a global media data strategy. 

CHALLENGE 1: It is difficult to define your data points and KPIs when working with multi-channel and international media data. 

RECOMMENDATION: The first step is to define, as an organization, your most important KPIs. Every advertiser has its own corporate goals, campaign strategy, and preferred ways of working. It may seem obvious, but only by first deciding what KPIs are important to your business, can you work toward measuring them. I’ve seen many brands form committees with stakeholders at their agencies and consultancies to collect input and reach consensus. 

CHALLENGE 2: It is difficult to locate media data sources when there are so many internal and external sources—budgeting, planning, actuals, performance, sales figures, digital, e-commerce, social, local, etc. 

RECOMMENDATION: Since your global media data is likely distributed across multiple platforms, partners, and of course, regions. I recommend you “Catalog and Consolidate.” First, take inventory of all your data systems— planning, buying, Facebook, Google, creative data, sales data, Excel, etc. Then consolidate your tech stack by signing global deals to standardize systems across markets. 

CHALLENGE 3: One, single system is unlikely, so you’ll want to use naming conventions. 

RECOMMENDATION: Your company should establish master data—the practice of having one name or ID that all your systems map to. Doing so will combat the pain we’re all familiar with—when a single piece of data—a campaign, a product, or supplier name, is keyed in differently throughout your systems. The result is that you might end up with a report that has twelve versions of “Facebook” in it. But by adopting uniform naming, reporting is streamlined and consistent, making it easier to extract insights down the line. At Mediaocean, we fully embrace the concept of master data which allows our platforms to talk to one another as well as integrate with external systems.

CHALLENGE 4: You have to determine where your data will live.

RECOMMENDATION: All the data you collect has to live somewhere, so you will need to decide between building a platform internally or outsourcing to a third party. Talk to your Media and IT teams to research whether similar systems already exist that you can piggy back off of, if your company has people with the right skillset, and whether your time-to-market goal can be accommodated with their existing priorities. For reasons listed above and others, many brands that are focusing on advertising data, opt to use the out-of-the-box capabilities of Lumina to get started quickly. This provides data capture, master data across plans, security, and reporting. 

CHALLENGE 5: You’ve amassed lots of data, but how can you most effectively interact with it? 

RECOMMENDATION: Once you’ve reached this stage, it is time to think about converting your raw data into meaningful insights. But what is meaningful varies from team to team, so it’s best to narrow your focus to a single role or team—global media teams and Brand Managers are typically good audiences to start with.

With your audience chosen, the biggest challenge at this stage is distilling the data into a format that is easy for the data consumer to understand.  Start by determining which data points will help them in their role, as well as the frequency they need that data updated. There is always the temptation to ask for everything instantly, but realistically in the media industry, once a day or once a week will still be a huge improvement.

From there, work with those teams to discuss how they’d like to visualize the data—charts, graphs, automatic reports, or maybe even a mobile app. Dashboards are popular with clients for how visual they are. You might have one for each campaign, by country, and another that rolls them all into one. Work with a user experience or design team to mock up samples to help you decide what format and what fields are needed. 

Congratulations, you now have a new tool that will help your organization align and strengthen your bottom line! To continue benefiting from this tool, you’ll need to maintain and update it as your company expands into new markets, adopts new data partners, or as corporate strategies change. And as your media data strategy matures, there is also the opportunity to expand the scope to support new audiences. Some examples of internal and external audiences who could benefit include: Procurement, Product, Finance, Sales, Creative, Mixed Market Modeling vendors, or Media Auditors.

In this day and age, marketers are under more pressure than ever before, which requires greater accountability across the ecosystem - but the easiest and best place to start is internally. No longer can advertisers afford to wait for post-campaign reports, because by then it’s too late to make changes that impact your campaigns. 

In order to maximize your return on investments, global marketers need to be equipped with a comprehensive data strategy. By collecting and evaluating data at every step along the way you can stay on top of your media spend, giving yourself flexibly to reinvest when something is not working well, or end campaigns early to save money for other initiatives.