Faaez Samadi
Nov 21, 2018

Data ownership critical to successful digital marketing

Too many marketers have difficulty accessing the data they need, let alone understanding it, said panellists at Re:Con Thailand.

If data is the new oil, you can only get ahead if you own the rig. That was the over-riding sentiment from panellists speaking at the inaugural Re:Con Thailand.

Debating the challenges of connecting data, creative and media at the event, held by Campaign in partnership with Ada, panellists said too many brands in Asia continue to operate in silos, which makes getting hold of data unnecessarily difficult.

“Silos inside organisations mean you have the data sitting somewhere else,” said Srinivas Gattamneni, Ada CEO. “Marketing doesn’t own the data, so the business owns it, but doesn’t have access to the marketing team, and so on.”

Compounding this, he added, is that siloes exist with data itself, depending on whether it's internal or external data, thus meshing different data sources together is even more challenging for marketers.

Unless such structural issues are tackled, brands can’t begin to work in the agile manner that is critical to success in today’s digital economy, said Paul Kell, CMO at True. “Agile methodology is easy to talk about, but it’s challenging. It requires senior management to know how important data is to what [marketers] do.”

Some brands are taking this to heart, as Padon Jeffrey Chirasanti, senior vice president of digital at FWD Thailand explained. As recently as last year, the brand didn’t even have a data team, with everything digital going through either marketing or the IT department. Now, digital marketing has been separated from FWD’s branding team, Chirasanti said, and sits together with the data, customer experience and digital services team, which has its own developers.

“So even for a life insurance company, a lot of things have changed,” he said. “Our IT team wonders why there are developers in the customer function, but it’s because we’re trying to engage people and get data. We need a place to house the data needed for media analytics.”

In the end, digital marketing and programmatic media are all in the service of speed, and this is constantly affected by poor decision-making structures, said Jeffrey Seah, partner at digital transformation firm Mettle & Salt Partners.

“Traditionally we have models of double-reporting structures, to ensure rigour, but the issue is how fast can we make decisions with all this data coming in?” he said.

Speed is particularly important when it comes to digital content, and here again, Seah said brands that have a clear digital strategy that sees siloed departments working together will see success.

“The entry point for your own content delivery channel is very low. In the past you needed a coup, to take over a TV or radio station. Now you are your own media platform or ‘content caster’. If you do those things well, the data comes naturally,” he said.

Gattamneni added that it again comes back to silos. “You can’t create the amount of content you need today without creating agile teams that have both the left and right brain. Break those deep-seated agency relationships you have, those exclusive retainers, and create teams that combine media and creative agencies together.”

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