DMA's &Then 2016: Data's Ever-Growing Role

Three separate reports presented at DMA’s &Then conference Monday outlined data's ever-growing role in today’s marketing, ultimately arriving at this consensus: The proliferation of mobile devices—and the various channels that consumers have access to on those devices—are presenting both a wealth of information and a number of new challenges to marketers.

One of the reports, titled "Future Trends in Data-Driven Marketing," focused on how the sharing economy has broken down centralized corporate structures and generated a demand for customized consumer experiences. Commissioned by DMA and authored by Harvard Business School professor John Deighton, the report used the example of rapper Macklemore’s ascent to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 without the backing of a major label to illustrate how success can be achieved without the involvement of traditional entities.

Deighton also cited the combination of cloud technology and smartphones—and the iPhone in particular—as essential in enabling companies such as Uber and Airbnb to outsource their services, allowing for a wide variety of options for consumers. He posited that the car will be the successor to the smartphone in terms of connectivity, noting that the capabilities of smartphones are already being incorporated into automobiles.

In partnership with DMA and IAB, marketing consultant Winterberry Group presented a report titled “A Deeper Dive on What it Means to be a Data-Centric Organization,” authored by managing director Jonathan Margulies, which examined several challenges that enterprises face with harnessing their data. According to Margulies, a need for new talent is one such challenge, particularly when it comes to data analysis. He also identified organizational structures and silos as problematic, saying that "even brands that have enormous resources at their disposal, many of them were built in a pre-digital era where the very definition of what data is and what role it plays is different from today." He added that now data can come in many different forms, and that "the customer and how they can be engaged has evolved in interpretation."

Making its formal U.S. debut, digital marketing technology company Mapp Digital presented its "2016 Consumer Views of Email Marketing" report, examining how consumers interact with brands across multiple channels over the past five years. According to Sean Shoffstall, general manager and vice president of marketing at Mapp Digital, email “is still the number-one most effective channel” for marketers to gather consumer data from. He also noted that 91 percent of consumers surveyed use desktop or laptop computers to check their email, with 72 percent using smartphones and 41 percent using tablets, indicating a shift to what he dubs a "multi-device world." Nevertheless, he does see a distinct separation for 18- to 24-year-olds, with 91 percent of them reporting that smartphones are their primary device for email, indicating a growing market for brands to tap into.

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