GLOBAL: Seven in ten senior marketers view data as a strategic asset, although more than half are only just starting the process of putting data-driven marketing (DDM) at the heart of their marketing strategy, according to a new survey.

Research from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), based on responses from 32 companies with a global annual marketing spend of $35bn, found that 31% of respondents described themselves as advanced or highly advanced in the adoption of data-driven marketing (DDM), using multiple data personalisation and segmentation techniques.

These advanced companies were underpinning their efforts with a range of technology solutions, including customer relationship management (CRM) systems, analytical systems, data management platforms (DMPs) and rules engines.

But 56% of respondents recognised that they were still early in the journey, at best in the initial planning stage and had yet to deploy a DDM strategy.

Confidence in analytics was limited, with only half "somewhat confident" and 27% "not very confident" in their ability to identify return on investment via data analysis.

And perhaps as a consequence, 89% of respondents expected to increase analytics and insight budgets and 31% to boost them "greatly", as they seek to move from a backward-looking assessment of what has happened to a forward-looking prediction of what will happen.

With the increased use and processing of consumer data, 85% of respondents acknowledged that privacy is integral to building customer trust, and more than just legal compliance.

These considerations should ideally sit within a brands' Customer Information Strategy, the WFA said – documenting what data is required, how it is to be used, where it can be obtained and whether it should be owned – but such strategies were in place for just 55% of respondents.

"It's interesting to note that even some of the world's biggest companies are only at the early stages of delivering data-driven marketing strategies," said Matt Green, Senior Global Marketing Manager at the WFA.

He added that data consumption was going to increase rapidly and "clarifying how data will be used and how consumer privacy will be protected should be a fundamental component of a brand's strategy as it advances into DDM".

Data sourced from WFA; additional content by Warc staff