US Firms Spend More on 3rd Party Audience Data Activation Than on the Data Itself

December 12, 2017

By the time this year draws to a close, US firms will have spent more than $20 billion on third-party audience data and data activation solutions supporting their advertising, marketing, media sales and associated efforts. That’s according to a new IAB-led research effort [pdf] conducted by the Winterberry Group.

One of the more significant findings to emerge from the research is that firms will actually spend slightly more this year on data activation solutions ($10.13B) than on the data itself ($10.05B). Data activation solutions refer to services and technology offered by third-party providers to support the activation of audience data.

Here’s a quick outline of how US firms’ $20 billion in audience data spending breaks out, per the report.

Audience Data: $10.054B

The study examined 5 types of data that are available for license through third-party providers.

Omnichannel: $3.53B

The largest portion of audience data spending will go to omnichannel data, per the report. This refers to information used to identify customers and prospects along with ways to engage with them across traditional and digital channels.

Transactional: $3B

The next-largest segment of audience data spending, transactional data refers to purchase history associated with audience members and segments. This type of data is used to determine interests and needs and is used to support personalization in marketing.

Digital: $2.01B

US firms will spend more than $2 billion on data that reveals the online behaviors of their customers and prospects via IP addresses, device IDs and other such identifiers. This type of data shows how digital users interact across different devices and media channels.

Specialty: $0.89B

A smaller segment of data spend, Specialty data refers to emerging channels such as addressable TV and wearables. Such data provides insights into behavior in these newer channels, offering an enhancement to customer and prospect profiles.

Identity: $0.56B

The smallest segment, Identity data is that which helps marketers reconcile customer and prospect profiles that have been created from various touchpoints.

Data Activation Solutions: $10.132B

The report identifies three data activation functions, which together account for more of US firms’ spending than the data itself.

Integration, Processing and Hygiene: $4.3B

US firms will spend more on integration, processing and hygiene than they will on any single audience data segment.

This solution function is intended to “maximize accuracy and actionability of a given dataset.” This is an area of interest for B2B marketers who are looking to improve their contact data.

Hosting and Management: $4.2B

Close behind, US firms will spend $4.2 billion on managed services and technologies used to maintain databases, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and data management platforms (DMPs).

Analytics, Modeling and Segmentation: $1.6B

Finally, US firms will spend upwards of $1.6 billion on managed services to assist them in developing insights about their audiences through segmentation, predictive modeling, measurement and attribution.

The IAB attributes the relatively low amount of spending in this area to analytics budgets being largely kept in-house.

Nonetheless, this appears to be an area of growing spending: recent research suggests that CMOs now dedicate more of their budgets to analytics than to any single other marketing expense.

The full report – along with detailed methodology as to how these figures were obtained – is available here [pdf].

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