Big data versus bad data: Here’s why we’re not in the midst of a subprime data crisis

People Connected Through Data

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According to LinkedIn’s Peter Weinberg, marketers are facing a data crisis that’s got a whole lot in common with America’s subprime mortgage crisis. You know, the one from that movie with Ryan Gossling, The Big Short. But Weinberg is missing one crucial detail in his argument.

Key points:

  • Global Lead at LinkedIn’s B2B Institute Peter Weinberg says marketers are wasting their hard-earned cash on data-driven marketing – particularly programmatic advertising.
  • The reason for this is bad data. According to Weinberg, not all data is good data. A lot of it is bad data. Especially some third-party data. Mainly, it’s inaccurate and wrong about 50% of the time. Tell us something we didn’t already know.
  • So marketers using third-party data to target programmatic ads would be better off flipping a coin.
    But Weinberg says that’s not the worst part because marketers aren’t even hitting the target 50% of the time. Instead, they’re just reaching bots.
  • Weinberg’s conclusion: personalisation at scale is a furphy since it’s impossible to take third-party data and personalise anything accurately.
  • In this sense, he reckons it’s like the subprime mortgage crisis because fake data is being bundled with bad data and sold on to marketers.
  • But all this misses the point that most sophisticated marketers have long turned their back on third-party data in favour of first-party data.

My Takeout

Do marketers have a toxic relationship with data?

Some might. But I’d suggest they’re in the minority.

Peter Weinberg delivers a good argument proposing our relationship to data is akin to the American subprime mortgage crisis. The crux: data is bad and the traffic is probably fraudulent so let’s make some eye-watering claims about $7 billion in wasted ad spend every single year.

It’s right out of the Ritson playbook.

However, Weinberg misses a key point. Most sophisticated marketers have long been doubling down on first-party data in lieu of third-party data.

Any marketer worth their salt knew from the early days there were problems with some third-party data vendors and they’ve been heeding the advice to get their first-party data house in order.

If you have your own decent stash of data, this entire argument is a moot point. It means you can 100% focus on personalisation which is table stakes in most industries.

Alternatively, if you’re a B2B marketer just spend all your money on LinkedIn. That’s what Weinberg was really arguing, in case you missed it.

Ben Willee

Over a 20-year career Ben has worked in some of the biggest media agencies in the UK and Australia. As General Manager and Media Director, Ben optimises our fully integrated, no silo approach.