Accelerating Post-Pandemic Data Strategies in 2021

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The need for speed and agility has always been crucial when it comes to harnessing data, and with COVID-19 creating rapid changes in consumer needs and behaviours, digital marketers have felt the pressure to adapt to this in an extremely short space of time. A recent McKinsey & Company report reveals how the pandemic is impacting and disrupting behaviour in every aspect of consumer lives, from work, learning and travel to shopping, entertainment and wellbeing. Digital adoption in particular is seeing remarkable acceleration, with ecommerce deliveries in the US increasing as much in just eight weeks as they had in the previous ten years, and telemedicine growing tenfold in just 15 days. These unpredictable circumstances have meant that brands must be able to move equally fast, recognising opportunities and responding to changes in the market as they occur.

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As the world gradually moves on from this exceptional phase, some trends such as a rise in remote working and an increased focus on health and fitness are expected to endure. Others, such as a decline in on-the-go consumption, are likely to be short lived. Some people will continue to enjoy the new pastimes and lifestyle adjustments they encountered during lockdown, while others will happily revert to their previous routine. Marketers need to continuously organise and activate their data quickly to understand who their audiences are, what they want and how best to reach them as circumstances unfold.

Access to timely and robust insight is essential for marketers to keep pace with this ongoing and unpredictable evolution in consumer behaviour, and to achieve this they must be able to activate their data effectively across multiple digital advertising marketplaces. For brands to thrive in a post-pandemic world they need to get a handle on their data and evolve strategies in three vital ways.

Speeding up synchronisation

While technological advances are continually improving the efficiency of data on-boarding, synchronisation and activation, marketers often still have to wait weeks before they can tap the granular user profiles needed to drive effective digital advertising campaigns. Onboarding data into digital marketplaces can still be an unnecessarily long and costly process, preventing brands from acting with the agility to take advantage of market trends.

But fast segment synchronisation is achievable, allowing marketers to access audiences in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks. It is also possible to synchronise segments on demand rather than waiting for default time-frame windows. Brands must prioritise speed and flexibility in their data strategies if they want to keep up with consumer behaviour.

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Ramping up reporting

As well as having to wait weeks to access audience segments, marketers often have to rely on monthly reporting to see the impact of their efforts, meaning the information is often out of date long before they receive it. To increase agility and efficiency in the post-pandemic world brands need to be able to measure performance in near-to real time. Accessing same day reporting allows them to see what is working and what isn’t so they can adjust and optimise campaigns in flight as well as adapt future activities; something that is now more relevant than ever before.

Boosting data quality

Marketers also face issues of low data quality, with average match rates across the industry rarely reaching 50%. Brands need reliable infrastructure to match IDs at scale and activate data across key programmatic marketplaces and buying platforms. Ideally they should be able to onboard and anonymise offline information such as CRM data to increase the effectiveness of their digital campaigns.

Of course, brands also need to be able to activate data in a legally compliant manner, ensuring their data practises abide by regulations such as the general data protection regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). They should also be in line with the IAB’s transparency and consent framework (TCF 2.0).

Restrictions around COVID-19 may be easing, but the repercussions of the pandemic on consumer behaviour will be felt for months and years to come, so marketers must be able to respond quickly and nimbly to these changes as they occur. If brands want to stay one step ahead in the ever-shifting climate they need sharper data capabilities that will provide an instant gateway to relevant audiences, same-day access to in-depth reporting and access to high quality data that can be activated in a timely and compliant manner.

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