NEW YORK: Kraft, the food group, has implemented major steps to improve the quality of the data supporting its marketing campaigns – a move other brand owners may benefit from pursuing.

Julie Fleischer – the director/data, content and media at Kraft Foods – discussed this topic while speaking at Advertising Age's latest Data Conference.

And she challenged a received wisdom within the marketing industry that suggests the figures delivered by third-party providers are accurate approximately 60% of the time.

Kraft's investigations into this subject, by contrast, indicated such confidence was nowhere near justified – a fact which should worry suppliers and clients.

"Ninety percent of data is crap," Fleischer said. "Data integrity matters. And the data is crap." (For more details, including how Kraft is addressing issues around measurement, read Warc's exclusive report: Kraft tackles advertising's data integrity problem.)

Drilling down into this area, Fleischer was able to draw upon detailed internal analysis conducted by the manufacturer of Philadelphia, Gevalia and Cool Whip.

"We spent that last four months systematically vetting third-party data across simple segments like gender, age, income [and] some behavioural characteristics," Fleischer said.

"Over a series of 800 data polls checked across four providers, we found egregiously low levels of validity."

An illustration related to Gevalia coffee's launch of K-Cup capsules for Keurig's brewing machines. Given that the messaging for this product was useful only to people possessing the relevant appliance, precision was key.

Working with two ecommerce platforms, a coupon site and a specialist in grocery purchase data, however, proved extremely disappointing for Kraft.

"The level of accuracy on these datasets ranged somewhere between 14% to 20%," Fleischer said. "Eighty percent of this buy was spent against non-Keurig owners when our datasets were Keurig owners.

"This is unacceptable. The problems with third-party data are rampant. There is no single source of truth, so it's a wild, wild west."

Kraft's steps in addressing this issue have included creating a "data dictionary" outlining the methodologies and sources used by leading data providers, and employing digital tools from Starcom to "sit on top of" its data-management platform.

A more thoroughgoing remedy has involved tapping into Kraft's tranche of in-house information, from sales totals to consumer behaviour while they are looking at recipes online.

"Because third-party data is generally untrustworthy, we double down on first-party data," said Fleischer.

Data sourced from Warc