US companies are investing in data for marketing purposes as never before, according to new research that links the trend to the central role programmatic advertising now plays in the industry.

In addition, implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the forthcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has prompted increased spend on data management, processing and integration.

These are two key findings from The State of Data 2018 report, which was produced by the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Data Center of Excellence and Winterberry Group, a research and consulting firm.

Based on interviews with senior US marketing executives and data professionals, the report forecast that US companies will spend nearly $19.2bn this year on audience data, including solutions to manage, process and analyse the data.

That represents 17.5% year-on-year growth and comes with the prediction that, for the first time ever, US marketers will spend more on digital data assets than any other kind of data.

Specifically, the IAB report expects $3.67bn to be spent on digital third-party audience data acquisition and solutions, representing growth of 36.9% since last year.

That will take spending on digital slightly ahead of terrestrial or personally identifiable audience data, such as names and addresses, which is forecast to attract $3.62bn of marketers’ data budgets (up 2.5% year-on-year).

However, speciality/engagement data as well as identity data are both expected to see the highest growth rates of 50.9% ($1.02bn) and 50.3% ($0.85bn) respectively.

And on top of their combined $11.94bn investment in audience data acquisition, marketers are expected to spend $4.97bn on data management, processing and integration in 2018, with another $2.26bn spent on analytics, modeling and segmentation.

Commenting on the findings, Orchid Richardson, VP and MD of the IAB Data Center of Excellence, said: “Programmatic advertising has taken a central role in the marketing landscape and this study shows how increasingly vital third-party data has become as a result.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Margulies, MD of Winterberry Group, said: “This annual research initiative reveals the on-the-ground financial trends of marketers’ investments in third-party data – many of which, this year, are counterintuitive to the headlines which have long highlighted regulatory and quality concerns.”

Sourced from IAB; additional content by WARC staff