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Difficulties in data analysis force marketers to turn to traditional measurements

Finding it hard to really understand data? Well, you are not alone.

While local businesses today have much more data at their disposal, new research from global research consultancy TNS reveals that many are failing to use the information to help them make informed decisions.

According to the TNS Marketing Monitor, a survey of more than 2,700 marketing professionals across Asia Pacific showed that much of this data analysis trickles down into the marketing department with almost one in three marketers (29%) in Singapore now managing real-time data as part of their role.

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However, more than three quarters (77%) of marketers in Singapore admit they find it difficult to integrate data from different sources. With so much data available, marketers know they should be able to make decisions in real-time, but many are struggling to integrate traditional and digital measurements.

(Read also: Infographic: How we process data)

Jon Foged, managing director at TNS Singapore, explained that many businesses were overwhelmed by the volume of data. He added that new digital and social media channels were increasing pressure on marketers to think, analyse and respond in real-time.

Despite the push on digital and data, one worrying trend the study spotted was that because of the difficulties of understanding real-time data, many marketers are falling back on traditional measurements. According to the survey, sales uplift metrics are still used as the number one way of evaluating the success of marketing campaigns.

“Despite their importance, these metrics are retrospective and do not empower businesses to track the ongoing reception of campaigns, react to live issues and make the changes that could nudge their marketing activity in a more favourable direction,” Foged said.

In addition, current market research methods are not helping marketers make quick and informed decisions.

Analysis is viewed as “not actionable enough” (77%) and “too slow” (also 77%) to be of use, according to the marketers surveyed in Singapore.

The survey highlighted that two out of three marketers (67%) were frustrated with the lack of predictive insight provided by traditional market research. New methods are showing that digital data, when integrated correctly, can not only help make real-time decisions, but can also predict brand equity.

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Nitin Nishandar, managing director of brand and communications for Asia Pacific at TNS, added: “The difficulties in extracting valuable insight from data means that marketers have a rear-view mirror approach, only understanding their performance and brand equity weeks or even months afterwards. Real-time data needs to deliver real-time value otherwise it’s just distracting noise.”

Nonetheless, Singaporean businesses are investing more in data-driven digital platforms and tracking systems to help them understand the challenging online landscape.

In APAC, Singapore is leading the way, with 55% of marketers using social media monitoring when making marketing decisions, with Malaysia closely behind at 50%.

Despite having some of the most advanced social media platforms in the world, China is lagging behind, with only one in three (30%) monitoring this data.

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Nishandar added: “As the pace of change accelerates across the region, we need to start using data to gaze into the future, not just measure the here and now.

“Tracking social and search data to form the basis of a predictive spine delivers insight months ahead of survey data or sales figures. This gives marketers the power to anticipate changes to brand equity in time to actually do something about it.”

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