59% of marketers turn to retail media and data collaborations to optimise customer journey

Study finds marketers’ priorities have shifted towards better understanding the customer journey with a 16% increase in concern identified since Q4 of last year.

As the rocky economic climate continues to tighten marketers’ bootstraps, creating an effective customer journey has become their most pressing challenge.

A recent research survey from LiveRamp, in conjunction with Censuswide, found that 42% of marketers are most concerned about “understanding the whole customer journey”, this figure increasing from just 26% in Q4 2022.

The customer journey is made up of several components and is influenced by a myriad of factors and the level of importance placed on each by marketers changes with great fluidity. The report indicates that recently, priorities for better understanding the customer journey have shifted towards emphasising brand marketing.

In the study, brand awareness was identified as the top “metric that matters” (58%) by the 250 UK-based brand side marketers who responded to the survey. This was followed by return on ad spend (45%) and category reach (39%), highlighting the importance of proving effectiveness to the boardroom.

Data collaborations

In terms of data maturity, although the majority of respondents (90%) described their company’s approach to data as “mature”, almost half (49%) said that they could not reliably find audiences to match their data-led customer insights “all of the time”.

This figure portends that marketers may have a lack of confidence in their ability to turn customer insights into successful campaigns, further highlighting why a sound understanding of the entire customer journey has become such a priority over the past 12 months.

Unsurprisingly, nearly everyone surveyed (94%) said it would be helpful to collaborate with partners to enhance their first-party data strategies.

Data collaborations combine internal and external sources of data in an attempt to unlock higher value, more accurate customer insights. Retail media networks are an increasingly popular form of data collaboration because of their ability to allow organisations to reach customers at different points along the customer journey.

Per the study, 59% of those surveyed described retail media as “an important part” of their ongoing media plan and an additional 34% described it as something they are “increasingly beginning to adopt”.

These figures could be a product of experts forecasting retail media to account for 60% of global ad spend by 2027, with it expected to grow by 25% in the UK this year alone, per Group M.

“A well-matched data partnership can provide a huge opportunity for greater addressability and measurement”

Hugh Stevens, UK Managing Director at LiveRamp, said of the findings: “The cost of living crisis is forcing consumers to feel the squeeze on their incomes, ultimately changing their buying habits. So while we’re gearing up for a hotly-competitive summer, marketers are prioritising getting to know their customers better and maintaining long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships.

“Data collaboration is increasingly being recognised as a crucial element in the matchmaking process between brand and customer. A well-matched data partnership can provide a huge opportunity for greater addressability and measurement. Those that do not already have a mature data strategy will likely be playing catch-up with competitors. Marketers need to act now or risk falling behind.”