How Data Lakes Are Solving Today’s Biggest Marketing Challenges


Every day, the digital universe creates roughly 2.5 exabytes of data; that’s like downloading 530 million songs a day. And yet, only 5% of that data is being analyzed by companies.

Data used to be a marketer’s best friend. But now, most brand marketers are being crushed by the sheer volume of data flowing through the business in a variety of different formats and from separate platforms.

And with the amount of information only expected to grow, marketers need to be able to tie together disparate formats and platforms in order to maximize insights. This has led to the rise of a new kind of data management platform: The Data Lake.

A data lake is a flexible, cloud-based platform that stores data in its native format, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. In advertising, data lakes are gaining increased importance as marketers are being faced with several tough challenges in today’s omnichannel world. Let’s take a deeper look at these challenges:

Measuring Across Multiple Platforms and Partners

Brands have been using Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) to programmatically buy digital advertising across a variety of publishers, often leveraging multiple platforms and partners. The primary problem is that this type of distributed approach doesn’t provide any consolidated reporting that would give marketers a complete view of their advertising efforts. Additionally, most partners are measuring their own performance, which immediately brings objectivity into question.

Reaching People Across All of Their Devices with Certainty

There has always been a struggle to reach people across all of their devices, which has led to collecting information like IP addresses, device identifiers, geolocation data, home address, and email address in order to accurately link devices back to their owners. Even with access to these data points, it is extremely difficult to connect them together accurately and with persistency. Many providers will offer probabilistic solutions that use algorithms to determine the likelihood that two devices belong to the same person. The only way to accurately connect the device to the individual is by working with providers who have their own first-party database.

Bridging the World of Offline and Online Data

Effectively bridging the world of online and offline advertising is the holy grail for marketers, but until recently, it has not been truly possible. That is because the offline world uses different identifiers than digital. Offline data typically is organized by name and address, credit card numbers, loyalty card accounts and phone numbers. Online identifiers include IP address, cookie IDs, device IDs and email address. Identity-based solutions use both the online and offline identifiers, often using email address to link the two worlds together and give brands a complete view into the customer journey to create actionable insights and strategies.

Lack of Transparency

Traditionally, marketers received their attribution measurement from each advertising platform through a prepared report, such as a PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet. Until recently, marketers have been forced to trust the accuracy of the attribution methodologies, since they often do not have access to raw data logs to validate the reporting. By having all their structured and unstructured data housed in a central location, marketers have unbiased insight into all of their marketing initiatives within a single platform. They now have the ability to validate reporting and gain transparency into:

  • True reach and frequency at the individual and household level
  • Unique reach across all advertising platforms
  • Performance broken out by multiple variables such as device, channel, publisher, and format
  • Actual ROI of all marketing initiatives

The more data you funnel into your data lake platform, the greater insight and transparency you get across all of your marketing initiatives.

All of these challenges have proven to be quite difficult, but are imperative for today’s marketers to prove ROI. Being able to use both online and offline data for targeting, as well as accurately measuring the complete customer journey from the first touchpoint to conversion (either online or in-store), is necessary in today’s omnichannel world.

This is where a data lake really shines. It helps marketers take data from multiple 1st, 2nd and 3rd party sources and house it in one centralized cloud-based platform for immediate analysis and activation. Because a data lake can take in raw data, advertisers are able to unlock the power of all their data and use it how they see fit, such as gaining a deeper understanding of who their customers are, not just on the data they have collected, but also from other 2nd and 3rd party vendors. This provides additional insight into behaviors like competing or complementary products purchased, allowing marketers to either competitively conquest or create custom messaging to facilitate more meaningful interactions with customers.

For more information on Data Lakes, read Viant’s explainer guide, Demystifying Data Lakes.

  • #data lakes
  • #omnichannel
  • #ROI measurement
  • #transparency
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