Master Data: The Next Buzzword for you to Know

CMOs are increasingly measured on business, not just marketing outcomes. Expect to hear more about Master Data and its impact on the marketing landscape.

Originally published on the Oracle Data Cloud Blog.

Ed Carey (@EdCarey), Global Vice President Advertising Market Development at Dun & Bradstreet, recently participated on a panel at the Oracle Data Cloud Summit to discuss “The Evolution of Intent: Harnessing the signals that drive more predictable outcomes.” Ed penned this article shared with attendees, raising further awareness of the importance of master data to plan and execute well-informed marketing and advertising initiatives that drive business outcomes.


You certainly know “big data” exists across every function including marketing, IT, sales, operations and finance. And if you are like most professionals who rely on software and cloud applications to accomplish marketing and business goals, you may not have heard of Master Data yet. But you will.

When marketing technologies can be at the center of master data and programmatic advertising, the outcome will be positive business results.

Terms like “Master Data,” “Master Data Management (MDM),” “mastering data,” and “master-anything,” will permeate the marketing landscape quickly, overtaking the “big data” buzz, and turn huge volumes of unstructured data into content that flows downstream all the way into programmatic advertising channels. Master Data refers to organizing, labeling and standardizing the big data flooding the marketing landscape.

To get a sense of what I mean, picture a Master Data cowboy taming the big data bronco.

To understand Master Data, the next big thing in data-driven marketing, you should know that there are enterprise, B2B, and B2C versions of Master Data, with more uses to come in the future. And while not a new benefit for large enterprises, Master Data is new to marketing. Now, for the first time, we can bring together marketing and advertising in new ways to drive business results (such as leverage or revenue growth).

Here is a simple illustration of the role of marketing data today:

Recent research shows that data quality for marketing efforts is average (or poor.) The problem is that this data tsunami is unstructured, meaning it is not “mastered.” There is no single view—it is fragmented across divisions and systems, cascading into organizational systems without labels or linkages. Examples would be that customer, partner and vendor identities are different if you are the CMO, CTO or COO.

A simple B2B example of this would be how sales and marketing teams might be tracking their activity with Ford, Ford Motors, Ford Motor Company, Tri-State Ford, Changan Ford Mazda, Ford Lincoln, Brazil Troller or Ford Motor Credit Company. Ford has about 800 divisions, which means if you sell enterprise services to their company, you would want to “master” (or structure) all of the data about Ford so that you fully understand the customer before targeting them.

In the B2C context, identity management refers to how a Data Management Platform (DMP) or ad agency manages consumer identity. Identity management creates a single view of a consumer across devices and platforms based on cookies or mobile IDs, allowing advertisers to serve the right message at the right time with the right frequency. Identity management is a bit like the tactical version of Master Data. Master Data is then in fact a broader enterprise function designed to drive business outcomes (like negotiating leverage with a single entity), not just tactical marketing or advertising outcomes like serving the right sequence of ads to a person.

The CMO marketing function is increasingly being measured on business outcomes instead of marketing outcomes, which means we should all expect to be hearing more about Master Data—instead of just big data or identity management. This illustration adds the foundational Master Data layer, which leads to data being used from start to finish through the marketing process. The ultimate goal is that advertising leads to business outcomes more than just marketing metrics. It all starts with good data:

So now that you know a little more about Master Data and have “mastered” your big data bronco, what next? That is where analytics comes to play, made possible when high data quality and strong marketing technology work together to create outstanding advertising experiences for customers.

It’s important for our industry to recognize and understand Master Data at the enterprise level. Enterprise data that is mastered can flow to the marketing and advertising clouds. When marketing technologies can be at the center of master data and programmatic advertising, the outcome will be positive business results. This is because it is connected to the upstream business need instead of downstream marketing metrics.