New IAB Study Reveals ‘Data Divide’: Early Adopters Leverage Cutting-Edge Opportunities in Marketing Data, but Barriers Remain to Broader Use of New Practices

Survey of Nearly 200 Advertising and Marketing Industry Thought Leaders Showcases Emerging Data Approaches & Identifies Key Challenges to Widespread Adoption

NEW YORK--()--Continuing to demystify the myriad of digital data now available to marketers and online publishers, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) teamed with strategic consulting firm Winterberry Group to create a new study titled “From Information to Audiences: The Emerging Marketing Data Use Cases.” The white paper reveals new practices in data aggregation, management and deployment and spotlights barriers to widespread adoption. Its findings are based on research results from a survey of nearly 200 industry thought leaders and influencers, as well as Winterberry Group’s own quantitative and qualitative research.

The study found that forward-thinking marketers have begun shifting from traditional data focused on products, channels and campaigns to the real-time identification and optimization of consumer audiences. The long-established use of personally identifiable information (like names and postal addresses) for targeted marketing purposes is increasingly being complemented by aggregated and anonymyzed “digital data”—with a focus on improving ad effectiveness (through better targeting) as well as efficiency (through more economical media buying).

“The plethora of new data sources, targeted technologies and advertising delivery platforms enable marketers to amass more intelligence from varied sources,” said Patrick Dolan, Executive Vice President and COO, IAB. “This promising resource can only bear fruit if marketers can take that raw data and harness it effectively, going beyond traditional usage. This study shows us that there are some hurdles we need to address before we can expect widespread adoption—and the ability for ‘big data’ to deliver big result.”

Currently, the data-driven marketing use cases with the most potential are still in the early adoption stage, and the white paper scrutinizes four of them in greater detail:

  • Audience Optimization – At a low maturity level. Early adopters include digital advertisers and ecommerce players who use resulting audience profiles to find “look-alike audiences” across channels–-from tablets and laptops to smartphones and other mobile devices.
  • Channel Optimization – At a low maturity level. Early adopters include publishers and e-commerce players who integrate data on customer preferences and intent across the various media channels to deliver more relevant advertising in real time.
  • Ad Sales/Yield Optimization – At a low maturity level. Early adopters are primarily publishers, who use such tactics as third-party data overlays, enterprise data management platforms and data exchanges to create richer audience data sets designed to maximize rates and improve the attraction of remnant inventory.
  • Media Buying/Ad Targeting – At an intermediate maturity level. Early adopters include digital ad agencies and demand-side platforms that enable advertisers to identify and target high-value customers across channels by using real-time bidding and more efficient bidding prices.

The study also identified several challenges to widespread optimization of marketing data, including the need for:

  • Aggregation and Anonymization – While traditional data management practices were built largely around “personally identifiable information” elements—usually consumer names and postal addresses—the collection, analysis and segmentation of online data now requires the aggregation and anonymization of virtually all data sets.
  • Improved Operating Infrastructures – The primary barrier to widespread marketing data optimization is legacy operating infrastructures—characterized by rigid organizational “silos” and a lack of data-savvy expertise in marketing, IT and sales operations.
  • Strong Service- and Technology-Enabled Partners – The fastest, most efficient “big data” aggregation, analysis and throughput solutions require strong service- and technology-enabled partners. The burgeoning data supply chain is proving to be extremely agile in streamlining and processing data for marketing performance—supported by of a new class of open-source tools, as well as maturing advertising optimization that offer new solutions for managing and redeploying large quantities of disparate data sources.
  • Marketing Data Governance – Data governance has emerged as a critical priority for everyone in the data ecosystem. But whereas organizations have long employed policy experts to advise on the regulatory ramifications of data utilization, many are coming to see marketing data governance—defining the “rules of the road” for assigning distinct data sources to different promotional tasks—as equally important.

“The digital marketplace has been growing by leaps and bounds, with data collection and usage representing a very complex and integral part of the puzzle,” said Jonathan Margulies, Managing Director, Winterberry Group. “Early adopters are making strides in pointing the ecosystem in the right direction, but a substantial ‘data divide’ continues to distinguish a small group of early adopters from those who have yet to explore the real potential impact that data may have on their advertising effectiveness.”

“From Information to Audiences: The Emerging Marketing Data Use Cases” represents the latest addition to the IAB’s efforts to demystify data and bolster dialogue between media planners, publishers and data providers. It builds upon last year’s “Data Segments & Techniques Lexicon” and an earlier “Data Usage & Control Primer” The former provided media planners with a framework for clearer communication with publishers and data partners, while the latter addressed and helped resolve the contractual and competitive challenges that surround data usage and collection within the interactive advertising landscape. Both of those industry efforts were developed by the IAB Data Council, which is dedicated to enabling revenue growth through the establishment of quality, transparency, accountability, and consumer protection in data usage.

Supporting sponsors for the study include BlueKai, eXelate, Janrain, ShareThis and V12 Group.

Complete findings are available for download at

About the IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 500 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit

About Winterberry Group

Winterberry Group is a unique research and strategic consulting firm that helps advertising, marketing, media and information companies grow value. Affiliated with Petsky Prunier LLC (“PPLLC”)—a leading investment bank providing merger and acquisition advisory services to companies in the same industries—the Firm offers its clients strategic perspective that is unparalleled in its addressable industries, while PPLLC maintains exceptional relationships with industry executives and business owners. This combination of market intelligence, research and strategic operating experience (as well as the ongoing dialogue among buyers and sellers of marketing businesses) provides an educated outside perspective that we bring to each engagement. For more information, please visit


IAB Media
Laura Goldberg, 347-683-1859


IAB Media
Laura Goldberg, 347-683-1859