GLOBAL: As marketers everywhere accept that data is now essential to their work, they are spending more on data-driven marketing and advertising (DDMA) and getting better at evaluating its effectiveness, a new study says.

The Global Review of Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising from the GDMA trade body was based on an online survey of 3,283 thought leaders in the advertising, marketing, media and technology industries in 18 countries, .

This reported that eight in ten regarded customer data as being critical to their marketing and advertising efforts.

Over half had increased their spending on DDMA in 2016 compared to the previous year (36% said their investments remained flat), particularly across digital channels and related execution functions.

And respondents also stated that performance had improved across nine of ten tracked channels, which, the GDMA suggested, indicated both improved planning and execution, as well as more insightful measurement and attribution techniques.

Crucially, that has helped move DDMA out of marketing, as business leaders begin to appreciate the role it can play in the wider business.

"It's a positive sign for marketers to see more and more CEOs and Board members understanding the value and importance of data," observed Jodie Sangster, Chair of the GDMA and CEO of ADMA.

"However, in order for businesses to thrive and deliver on customer experience, emphasis must be placed on sophisticated data management and analytics models," she said. Consumer trust will also be critical.

The advance of DDMA from a niche discipline to central business function has been rapid, so much so that integrating existing technologies and improving internal processes are widely seen as necessary steps if marketers are to derive greater value from their efforts.

Jonathan Margulies, Managing Director at Winterberry Group, which helped compile the report, added: "With three years of research now in hand, we can conclusively say that the 'data-driven' approach has evolved beyond its 'direct and digital' origins to represent a centrepiece growth strategy for both promotional marketing and customer experience—and for businesses all over the world."

Data sourced from GDMA; additional content by Warc staff