Pushing the digital divides

Across the media and advertising sector, data has moved from the back room to the boardroom. It has meant that the digital media industry has expanded at warp speed, yet the shift to a data driven media economy has brought with it a rush of fear. These fears are largely a problem with perception of what data is, a lack of understanding of what it can do and how to use it.

As discussed in my recent blog, the digital media industry is transforming as marketing budgets change and programmatic buying breaks into the scene. The rapid acceleration has altered business processes, scope of work and roles and responsibilities, and has changed the industry’s talent demands.

There are four key challenges for the digital advertising industry today: talent, creativity and production, data management and measurement – all of which need to be top of mind in order to bolster success in the industry.

One of the headline issues is the massive talent gap. The fast tracked development of the industry has seen a collision of two disparate worlds: the creative, front-end realm of marketing and the quantitative, back-end of data analytics. Today, the digital advertising sector needs a new breed of talent that can bridge the gap between the language that analysts speak and the language that marketers talk.

According to Dan Sheppard, Regional Practice Director of Digital, Media & Communications at Xpand,”Data is being collated through a host of different channels in astonishing scale. Bridging the gap between the complexity of the data, real time advertising technology solutions and communicating this successfully to a non-data and tech-centric client still remains the biggest challenge of them all. We have seen a substantial investment from our clients who are openly dedicated to solving this lack of talent within Australia and SEA.”

To be a successful digital marketer today and solve the talent conundrum, companies need people that can understand and leverage data to enhance the planning, optimization and measurement of programmatic buying efforts. However, they also need talent that can make strategic recommendations based on data, as well as talent that can analyze campaign performance of programmatic buys in order to meet objectives.

All organizations need to confront the challenge of integrating new data streams and technology platforms into their cultural and workflow DNA, and the advertising industry is just beginning to do so. Hiring the right data savvy talent is now not just a matter of keeping up, but helping pivot organizations into the digital future and driving systematic change. Analysis and understanding of data is the key, which brings us to the second challenge.

As discussed in Equinix’s report, “The Future of Digital Advertising in the Asia Pacific,” the data challenge – how to use, manage and obtain it – is an issue discussed at large. It’s clear that data is critical for developing targeted strategies, but what isn’t clear is how to legally obtain the data and how to effectively analyze it. What the industry needs is consistent third party data that can be used for effective targeting, as well as data gurus or IT systems that can analyze first party data for marketers. While it seems like a simple solution, privacy and legal issues make this challenge even more difficult.

On top of this, the digital advertising industry also needs consistent and standardized measurement systems and processes, to ensure data is being accurately and fairly interpreted across markets. The “measurement challenge” is causing immense confusion in the market, as companies are producing conflicting data points. What’s needed is a standard method of measurement so companies are able to measure based on an apples to apples comparison. This is difficult, however, as digital measurement keeps evolving, thereby making it challenging for marketers and agencies to keep pace with it.

And if this wasn’t enough, there is also the creativity challenge looming over digital marketers, as leaders across the AP region have expressed vast disappointment over the quality of creative output. While digital advertising has the ability to provide far more powerful ROI for advertisers due to its personalization and targeting abilities, much of the current digital creative is often presented as an afterthought, adapted from either television or print creative. Again the disconnect between the old world of traditional advertising means that creative directors often lack knowledge of digital technology and how it can be used to develop engaging, new world campaigns.

To remedy these challenges, however, it’s key for leaders to take the time and understand the role that data plays in their industry today. Understanding that data is a strategic tool rather than a weapon of fear is important for the success of the industry. To do this, however, companies must merge reliable technology infrastructure that can effectively process and analyze data, with talent that can apply the data to marketing strategies. This two-pronged approach is the way to the new world of digital advertising.

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