Using data for campaign measurement is no longer the Holy Grail for senior marketing professionals, according to a new study commissioned by Hotwire. Launched during AMEC’s Measurement Week, the research demonstrates that marketers now rank planning future campaigns and communications strategies as their prime use of PR and social media data.

Big Data has been a buzz word across the industry for the last few years, at the centre of debates from providing insights into customer behaviour and activity to measuring the effectiveness of campaigns themselves. However, Hotwire’s findings reveal that only one in four (28 percent) of marketers surveyed said they primarily used PR and social media data to analyse the success of past campaigns.

In contrast, more than half (51 percent) said their principal use of data is to inform future plans and strategies, providing PR campaigns with crucial insight up-front rather than at the end. Four out of five of those surveyed said their teams effectively use data and insights to inform strategy and planning; and all but a small minority of respondents (5 percent) felt their organisation is equipped to extract meaningful insights from the data it collects.

With marketers now confident that their departments have mastered the tools, skills and capabilities to use data as a planning tool, it is no surprise that they are keen to prioritise acquiring crucial insight up-front rather than at the end. With the vast amount of data available, there is now no excuse. 

“Measurement has to be at the heart of every campaign. But measurement on its own, without a current understanding of the audience, the competition and the landscape just isn’t enough,” says Brendon Craigie, CEO of Hotwire. “Marketeers are now waking up to the real benefits of data—not simply using it reactively to measure performance, but gaining invaluable insight at the planning stage to ensure campaign success from the outset—and then all the way through to completion.”

Even though marketers can extract data confidently, some are still reluctant to act on it in real time. Media consumption may have moved to a 24/7 habit but only half (53 percent) of the professionals surveyed are “always on.”  In fact, to some marketers real-time may mean acting quickly, but only

It is younger professionals under 34 years old who really grasp data and make it work for them. Two out of three (65 percent) use data primarily for planning and all of them see their departments as professional in using data to this end. They are the group most likely to embrace the 24/7 mentality (59 percent) and also the most trusting of data coming from their own department (71 percent).