Do You Have Audience Data Control?

Data Control, Audience Data

Audiences have always been important to campaigns. However, with the advancement of programmatic media buying and more defined audience targeting, 1st party audience data has become an essential element to the overall success of campaigns. Marketers have only just begun to realize this, and now want to be able to access this data for current and future campaigns. In the past, only service providers or vendors had an understanding of the value of this data which allowed third-parties to create very controlled data environments that marketers may have not be aware of.

With the advent of consumer advocacy (where consumers are vocal about what happens to their data and for what purpose their data is being used) and with more awareness around cookies and pixels, a power struggle has developed between clients and vendors or agencies over:

  • Who has control of audience data
  • When data can be used
  • When agencies/vendors should stop using data

Agencies can be Data Hostages

While agencies will most likely say they would not hold client data “hostage”, in many cases they are. Agencies and vendors can be reluctant to hand data back over to the client because with data comes power. Agencies and service providers can use client’s’ data to create their own internal “big data” intelligence.

Take this example. Let’s say a marketer decides to run a campaign with a particular vendor. They sign the Insertion Order (IO) and then is asked to place the vendor’s pixels on all of the pages of their website. With the placing of these pixels, the marketer has now given full access to audience data that they are generating through their site to the vendor – even data being gathered by internal campaigns or other vendors. The vendor now has information on all the audiences visiting the site from their campaigns and others.

It’s Time For a Shift

With so much need for and access to data for all facets of campaigns, it’s time for a shift to occur in the industry. Marketers need to be able to take control of their data and also understand who has access and the rights to use that data. This means marketers need to pay attention to vendor agreements and challenge how the vendor uses that data during the campaign and in the future.

Marketers need to start digging into vendor agreements and challenging vendors on these data issues. Most common agreements between vendor and marketer are vendor driven, meaning that there is no stipulation on how the vendor can use the data during the campaign, before the campaign, or after the campaign.

The kicker is that the vendor now has the right to use marketer’s data for free and potentially for future targeting in competitor’s campaigns.

Time to Take Control

Don’t let service providers and agencies use hard-earned data for their own purposes. Marketers who want to take control of their data will keep these steps in mind:

  • Read over your vendor agreements, challenge anything that allows vendors to keep data and be prepared to make edits to the agreement.
  • Be clear about how vendors can capture data, for how long they can capture data, and
    whether or not they cannot use the data for any other purposes outside the marketer/vendor relationship.
  • When campaigns are finished running, remove the vendor pixels. If not, the vendor can keep collecting data about audiences. Marketers should create a cadence with their web development team or internally to remove pixels from their site or tag-managers on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Marketers need to understand the importance and value of their data and begin take measures to protect it. Most vendors are not out to “steal” data, but they will continue to use the insights from campaigns long after they’re no longer running them.