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How brands can untangle their data spaghetti | #MediaMonth

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Despite the optimism of a return to ‘normality’ at the beginning of 2022, we now find ourselves mid-way through the year with another emerging crisis affecting consumers and brands alike.

According to Bridget Arik, Chief Operations Officer at Redmill Solutions, in order to survive this next great crisis (and any more to follow) brands must learn to untangle their media data before it becomes more of a blight than a benefit.

Complicated data

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Global inflation levels have led to concerns of a global recession, causing consumers to tighten their belts and brands to reconsider their ad spend. However, the effects of this downturn are not homogenous; local markets are being affected in different ways. For global brands, negotiating these continually turbulent times will involve being able to rapidly respond to the corresponding market changes.

To do this, brands need up-to-date, reliable, comparable media data from their local teams. However, for many global brands this is not simple. This data comes in an array of taxonomies, languages and currencies, hence when added to the global whole, it becomes an unmanageable mess, an information tangle – or data spaghetti.

Data in this form makes it much more complicated to use, clouding the vision of marketers and stopping the effective decision making needed to optimise ad-spend in uncertain circumstances. So how can brands unlock the potential of their local teams and untangle this data?

The power of local knowledge

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For brands trying to juggle local teams, the solution to fragmentation can often seem simple – a top-down standardisation of processes. What many global directors will quickly realise however, is that this approach can lead to more friction up and down their supply chain.

These attempts often ignore and misunderstand local media – its nuances, its culture and its needs. By enforcing a standardisation process that loses local taxonomies, language and customs, the data that global teams receive will contain far fewer actionable insights. Culture should be at the core of all media planning, and its loss will only lead to poor decision making and unhappy local teams.

Generating success in different regions means listening to those with on-the-ground knowledge. As consumers grow more comfortable and welcoming of personalisation, poorly targeted ads with unspecific global messaging will only reflect badly on a brand. Communication needs to be a two-way street between local and global teams if brands are to unlock the knowledge needed for clearer decision making.

Singing in the same key

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Responding to the threats of inflation demands a great amount of agility from global brands. Refining strategies and processes, pivoting ad spend and shifting focus can only be achieved by having a firm grasp on media data. This requires the right tools to gather, organise and streamline data, while ingesting and adjusting as new data is acquired.

As previously mentioned, gathering and harmonising data from local teams is full of challenges. The differing taxonomies and standardisations of local data can also lead it to be siloed, collecting into vast and unwieldy data lakes. This can make it difficult for marketers to take a holistic overview of these data sets and have accurate comparisons between regions.

Harmonising data on the scale that global brands need demands a data management tool that can be truly flexible to the requirements. The best of these platforms recognise the power of local nuances, and help to harmonise global and local data in a way which preserves these. The granular insights that can be gained from this process are invaluable for media planning across multiple markets. Consumer trends can be identified rapidly not just in larger regions, but in particular cities, and spend can be adjusted with agility to maximise its effectiveness.

Clearing the plate

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In the current age of Big Data, many believe there is no such thing as too much data. However, this is untrue; brands need a handle on what data they hold and why, otherwise it simply clouds their vision. Similarly, one of advertising’s open secrets is that often marketers are unable to explain where exactly media spend has gone – especially when it comes to early-funnel stages of advertising. With approximately $560 billion spent on advertising globally per year, this lack of clarity is not sustainable.

In the fast-moving world of advertising, compiling the requisite data to analyse where spend has gone can be an arduous experience. Conventional approaches to multi-channel Marketing Return On Investment (MROI) measurement simply do not deliver information that is up-to-date or comprehensive enough. Campaigns can only be assessed and analysed months after they have finished – as a post-mortem rather than an ongoing health check.

Global brands need to gain a unified, trusted view of their data. Achieving this means taking data from within its various silos and instead placing it into one trusted data repository. With all global and local data in one place, undertaking an audit is more straightforward, and duplicated or inconsistent reporting can be eliminated. From here, the tangle of data spaghetti can begin to be untangled, and a clear view of marketing outcomes will emerge.

It has never been more important for brands to understand what media data they hold and where it is. With an economic storm gathering on the horizon, effective data management could be the difference between those that emerge from the other side, and those that don’t.

But the real key to this – and the key to turning data spaghetti into a meal worth having – is local teams. Their granular insight into the shifting tides of specific markets should not be ignored. It is for global teams to turn their insights into comparable, useful data that will pull a brand in the right direction together.

Header image by Sam Twigg

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