By: Unified

Social advertising continues to boom. With one-third of all digital display budgets going to Facebook and projections of social ad spend exceeding $50 billion in 2018, brand marketers are quickly facing several new data challenges -- none of which can be ignored. As investment levels explode, so do the data exhausts. This is forcing brands to ask: Do I control the access to my data, and what happens if I don't?

First, it is important to define data accessibility. In this context, it means complete and uncompromised access of all social advertising data, no matter how many sub-brands, teams or partners a company works with. Without control of their data and who can access it, a brand that switches agencies and needs to transfer millions of social advertising dollars and years of intelligence will have to spend months manually moving this data from the previous partner, assuming they even have access to this information.

If you're like most marketers, you're probably wondering: Does my company control our social advertising data? Where does this data live? Can I access it in its entirety? As marketers are finding out, the need for data accessibility is at a tipping point, and answering these questions is imperative for success going forward.

The turning point

Social ad accounts, which contain critical audience, performance and financial data, are being created at alarming rates. Additionally, fragmentation of teams and tools is at an all-time high. To further illustrate the growing complexity of the social supply chain, there are, on average, 6.1 companies connected to a single social campaign: brands, media agencies, creative partners, analytic groups, buying solutions and more. With so many players in the mix, it is often unclear who set up the ad accounts, who has access to them, and what happens if the partners in this supply chain change.

Unlocking transparency

The issue of poor transparency among social advertisers is rooted in a lack of control over data access. Today, according to our research, more than half of marketers state they do not have transparency into their social advertising audience, performance and investment data. This makes brands incredibly dependent on agency partners, limiting data visibility and putting their investment increasingly at risk. As a result, the biggest issue quickly becomes waste within the supply chain; agencies and partners tasked with maximizing ROI for brands are unaccountable for poor performance, unclear vendor fees and incomplete stewardship of the brand's investments.

As marketing supply chains continue to expand, and the investment passes through many parties, it's vital for marketers to enable more transparency in both investment and performance trends.

The risk and the reward

At the end of the day, lack of data accessibility is putting some of the industry's largest brand portfolios at risk. Ultimately, this costs these organizations millions of dollars annually because incomplete data prevents them from making informed marketing investment decisions. Outside of that, brands must understand that not having control over their data means they can potentially lose it at any given moment.

Solutions that not only enable control over data access, but also map that data to a marketer's unique portfolio, will be key to helping brands finally gain a connected, cohesive view of their social advertising. Brand marketers must realize this and begin to take advantage of technology that is interoperable with any campaign, team, tool or channel. With this approach, advertisers will be able to control accessibility, creating clarity and certainty about what they are investing in and dramatically limiting their risk.

By: Jason Beckerman, CEO of Unified

This article first appeared in AdAge

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