Will Brands Be Ready For Monetization In 2018?

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Trey Stephens, director of audience monetization at Acxiom.

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s a great time for brands to assess ways to improve marketing strategy and better capitalize on the available assets.

The most advanced marketers have already embraced the power of data to inform planning, strategy and execution. Now, with 2018 fast approaching, it’s time for brands to stop thinking about data as an abstract concept and start seeing it as an asset that can be monetized.

More data has been created in the last 12 months than in the history of data collection. It’s even been said that data is the oil of the digital economy. But even with a well-oiled machine, the marketing engine can’t run if a brand doesn’t understand how to use, distribute and activate this commodity.

So, are brands ready for data monetization, and is it ready for them?

What’s The Data Culture?

First, brands must understand their company’s culture around customer data, be it close-minded and defensive or open, to ensure that it can adapt against emerging competition. Recognizing and acknowledging this mindset will inform a company’s approach to monetization and data-driven enterprise objectives.

Also critical to this assessment is understanding if competitors are monetizing data and whether a traditional “fast-following” company can achieve “first-mover” status within an industry. For those ready to pursue monetization, data should be at the forefront of a company strategy rooted in cautious optimism and developed with cross-division perspectives. The careful and considerate creation of this strategy should include input from marketing, IT, finance, privacy, business, insights and analytic cost centers.

Over the past five years, successful monetization has proven to reside at the intersection of business need, privacy policy consideration, new value creation for the end customer, competition and the acceptance from IT that it can’t do everything.

Data As An Asset

The next question for brands to ask is whether their companies consider data to be an asset. The answer is probably yes if there’s an executive tasked with breaking down silos of informational touch points or the company has begun to consider monetizing data outside the organization, such as third-party data.

Data monetization has an emerging first-mover principal, meaning businesses with large data sets have a limited period of time to capture the emerging data market by monetizing data assets. This new revenue stream, with zero to little incremental expense, can be sizable even for companies that aren’t traditional data companies.

On a granular level, there are six key questions for brands to ask of their company when determining monetization readiness:

  1. Does the company have unique, scalable and rich data? Each is a critical factor to success.
  2. Is there executive-level buy-in to monetize data?
  3. What does a company’s privacy statement allow, and has this thinking been updated in the last five years? This is a must.
  4. Does the company have a single view of customers, also known as identity resolution?
  5. Excluding competitors, who would buy your monetized audiences?
  6. What is the incremental revenue potential of your company’s data?

Making Monetization A Reality

Data monetization is an often challenging discussion topic, particularly for multinational corporations operating within varied laws regulations and laws. From a technical perspective, the rapid expansion of cloud computing has made data monetization more accessible than ever, but the ease of data sharing is only one of the components companies must consider: Above all else, brands must ensure that monetizing data will result in an ethical use of that data.

A good rule of thumb is, just because you can technically execute a solution, doesn’t mean you should. It’s imperative to remember that monetization is the intersection of ethical data use and defined business objectives to benefit the customer. After first securing open feedback from customers on their evolving expectations of the use of their personal information, companies considering data monetization as a viable path must also take into account data constituencies, governance and ethical use.

There’s no right or wrong answer regarding data monetization. Some brands will see value in pursuing it and others will choose not to. But failing to plan is planning to fail, so marketers should approach 2018 as an opportunity to assess the value of data monetization for their brand.

Follow Acxiom (@Acxiom) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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