5 ways to protect your data from the big data grab

If you work with a marketing consultant or media agency, it’s very possible that you may not own the raw customer data produced by their efforts. And that could be a real big data problem. Here’s what you should do about it.

1. Protect your raw data

We’re referring here to the raw data, not just the basics like email, customer, or form submission databases – but the underlying data that caused those transactions. This includes search engine marketing click performance reports, email opens, ecommerce click transactions, session and page ping data — the kind of data that tells you exactly what’s happening and why — and not simply what was the final result.

2. Look out for agency vendors making the Big Data Grab

This problem of data ownership is becoming more commonplace. Marketers are constantly facing increased pressure to stretch marketing dollars. As companies are forced to recognize Big Data as more than a buzzword and create Omni Channel customer experiences, more and more CMOs are investing in agencies and other service providers to manage the workload. Generally, CMOs and CTOs understand that they don’t own software, processes, instruction methods or techniques that their marketing and data partners employ. Many however, assume they own the data that is created as a result of their multi-million dollar investments in various channels. That is not always the case.

If you’re not sure who owns your data, stop reading this post and write an email to your data partner right now. (And then come back and finish this post. Right?)

3. Avoid giving away your leverage

Unfortunately, this problem is exacerbated by agencies that are complicit in making a Big Data Grab. The reality is that the agency business is less sticky than other business models, so more and more agencies are creating closed-end platforms that hold data hostage and provide minimal transparency.

Ask yourself: should an agency be allowed to use the event-level data they were paid to collect and report on as leverage in contract negotiations? Because that’s what you may experience if you don’t establish your data ownership rights up front.

4. Look to the future by protecting the past

Many marketers would say the answer to data ownership isn’t a simple one. One marketing director we spoke with said, “Why do I need all the raw data? I have the aggregated campaign metrics – I know what works and doesn’t.”

And they were partially correct. They know what worked then, but it is impossible to recreate the customer journey with aggregated information (think conversion funnel analysis). For example: Customer A clicked the green banner on this Ad Network three times; added two products to the cart; called for more information; and then scheduled an appointment online.

Aggregated data falls short because it simply gives you click conversion data. The raw data gives you the complete picture and lets you go back in time to answer specific questions about the effectiveness of the marketing.

5. Don’t forget who pays the bills

In the end, clients hire agencies to manage their campaigns, create excellent creative, manage data pipelines and drive new customer growth. Therefore, all of the raw data associated with those campaigns and any aggregated learnings belong to the client. After all, you paid for it.

In today’s Big Data driven marketplace, agencies will fight hard to win the Big Data Grab. But you can win that fight through shrewd negotiation or by simply switching to an agency that is more committed to your success than they are in building their own private database.

And if you’re still unclear on the value of your raw data, call us. With our AdScience® data management platform, we can show you exactly what your raw data can do for you.

About the author:


For over 20 years, Imaginuity has been combining imaginative thinking and innovative technology to create transformative results for our clients, their customers, and our people. Our services and platforms manage complexity to improve marketing outcomes.