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NeustarDigiday-Ability-Predict-Customer-Purchase-Behavior-June2014Three-quarters of digital media and marketing professionals are gathering data on current and potential customers, and 77% report an increase in data collection over the past year, according to an industry report [pdf] from Neustar and Digiday. Although a majority 57% of respondents indicate that their data collection efforts are more effective than they were last year, half are unable to link data to create individual customer profiles, and one-third are having trouble predicting the purchase behavior of their customers.

Even so, many report that the ability to target customers has improved, as has the impact of marketing campaigns. Fewer, though, said their ability to develop complete profiles of customers and prospects has improved.

In fact, even the 50% of respondents that are able to link data to customer profiles continue to rely on basic data sources, per the report. The most common data sources incorporated into customer profiles are location (74%) and demographic profile (73%) data; only about half as many are incorporating psychographic profile data, such as likes, values and attitudes.

The results suggest that while data collection practices are expanding and improving, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. About 1 in 4 respondents said they are unable to unify and reuse individual customer profiles across different channels. And about half of the respondents reported that their data collection is either moderately (35%) or not very (13%) effective in meeting their business needs. Indeed, as the study authors note, “the state of the industry, in terms of data collection and linking to personal profiles, isn’t as quite [sic] advanced as the media makes it out to be.”

There are signs, though, that respondents are heeding consumers’ privacy fears. Close to 6 in 10 are working with third parties to ensure data protection, and half report implementing new systems and processes to protect customer and prospective customer data.

About the Data: A sample of 301 digital media and marketing professionals participated in the study through a combination of convenience and snowball sampling. Of these, 10% identified as advertisers, 50% as agencies, 22% as publisher. The remaining 17% (8% ad platform; 9% “other”) were directed to the last section of the survey on questions of data collecting issues (such as data protection and privacy).

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