Study: Marketers Want More Demographic Data—But Only If It’s High Quality

Data accuracy was most important factor among brand marketers

The study underscores the interest within the marketing industry to improve data quality and transparency. Getty Images
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Contrary to conventional wisdom, marketers are still very much interested in purchasing and using demographic data to reach consumers. Concerns about the quality of the data available, however, are preventing them from using more.

Ninety percent of marketers who purchase demographic data said they would use more if they had more confidence in the accuracy of it, according to a new study commissioned by the data management platform Lotame.

Data accuracy was identified in the study as the most important factor among survey respondents who purchased demographic data. Eighty-four percent of survey respondents said that data accuracy was “very important” to their purchasing decisions.

“As audience data’s importance continues to grow, sophisticated marketers are becoming more interested in the quality of data to ensure they are making the right business decisions while reducing wasted ad spend,” Jason Downie, the chief strategy officer of Lotame, said in a statement about the survey’s results.

The study underscores the interest within the marketing industry to improve data quality and transparency as digital advertising continues to be of top interest to marketers. In March, the Interactive Advertising Bureau proposed a set of rules that, among other things, would encourage data sellers to disclose more information about data sources. Lotame is a paying member of the IAB.

The Lotame study, which was conducted online in May 2018, surveyed 300 brand marketers who use or purchase first-party, second-party or third-party data, and found that 90 percent of the brand marketers who responded said that they viewed audience data as valuable or somewhat valuable to their marketing efforts.

Forty-two percent said that demographic information—like age and gender—was the most important. Geographic information was second-most important, with 34 percent of survey respondents saying they purchased it. More than 25 percent of respondents said they purchased advanced demographic data, like household income and education level.

About a quarter of those surveyed said third-party and behavioral data was most important.

Targeting by age was the most popular approach among the marketers surveyed, with 76 percent of survey respondents saying that they “always” or “usually” target by age. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said they usually or always target by gender, and 50 percent said the same for household income. Forty percent of marketers who responded to the survey said they targeted based on education level, and only about a third of survey respondents said they targeted based on the number of children in the household.

In the wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal and the passage of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ad targeting practices have come under increased scrutiny. Marketers and tech platforms have argued that targeting customers using available data is a long-standing practice that makes advertisements more useful to consumers.

The increased interest in data privacy has had some effects. In March, for example, Facebook cut off access to third-party data on its platform, saying the decision was prompted by privacy concerns. In June, the California legislature introduced a consumer privacy bill that would require that companies disclose to consumers the information that they are collecting, and would give consumers the ability to opt-out of being tracked online.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.