We were pleased to see the latest research paper from the Winterberry Group on “Demystifying the Data Layer” as it’s a comprehensive overview of where the martech and adtech spaces play today.  We’re squarely in the omnichannel era, defined by its focus on customer experience with a need for cross-channel identity and device matching.  But what is the data layer, and why is it important?

The data layer is a foundational element of the marketing and advertising technology ecosystem that encompasses the ingestion, storage, processing, and activation of customer data across platforms and channels.  It comprises a complex array of interconnected platform solutions that serve critical functions in managing, analyzing, and activating customer data. At its core are nine critical solutions that underpin the management, analysis, and activation of vast volumes of first-, second-, and third-party data. These core solutions are:

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    Analytic Data Environments

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    Customer Data Platforms (CDP)

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    Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

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    Data Clean Rooms (DCR)

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    Data Lakes

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    Data Warehouses

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    Identity Graphs

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    LLM Data Warehouses

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    Master Data Management (MDM)

As the report states, “rapid proliferation of digital channels and marketing use cases has dramatically increased data layer complexity. The proliferation of digital media channels, devices, and customer touchpoints has massively increased the complexity of data capture, storage, and utilization for modern brands. Spending on data-driven media channels has grown 3x from $85.7B in 2004 to $270.2B in 2023. In 2004, 99% of spend went to Direct Mail and DRTV while today those channels account for only 34% of share. The remainder has shifted to digital platforms like paid social, display, video and CTV. Handling data from offline systems, online ads, social media, IoT devices and more has exacerbated infrastructure challenges around data ingestion, management and integration.”

For some time now, the market has seen a shift from on-premise legacy solutions to cloud-hosted platforms driven by need for flexibility and scalability. The limitations of rigid, on-premise solutions are driving rapid cloud adoption for accessibility, flexibility, and scalability. But concerns persist around security, latency and cost of storage and compute, increasing the adoption of hybrid approaches that span legacy infrastructure, private cloud, public cloud, and SaaS.  

The Modern Approach: A Hybrid Model

Aqfer is one such hybrid approach. We manage and optimize the modern data layer to ensure our clients are ready for continued change and transformation. 

Aqfer provides software and services to integrate, transform, and analyze data from disparate sources, and serve as a middle layer between data sources and client applications that use the data. Specifically, Aqfer offers third-party data connectors and aims to reduce costs for customers by handling data integration and preparation, rather than having customers build these capabilities themselves.

Aqfer optimizes the data layer through its marketing data platform (MDP). It is the repository for the data layer that does all of the processing. And it allows fast, optimized access to advertising and marketing data. Aqfer connects data sources above and applications below, so clients don’t have to build their own data infrastructure from scratch.

Key Recommendations on ‘How to Make the Data Layer Work’

Shift to the Cloud

Shift towards cloud-based environments, which offer unparalleled scalability, flexibility, and aspects of cost-efficiency. This shift enables optimized performance while ensuring robust data security and privacy measures.

Demand Data Quality

Ensuring data quality is essential for delivering on the promise of the data layer.  Data quality is a function of established standards for accuracy, consistency, reliability, completeness, and timeliness.

Find Development Partners

Most companies lack the specialized skills needed to fully implement and manage complex, ever-evolving data ecosystems. The majority rely on external partners to fill gaps around cloud architecture, data engineering, and data science. Achieving self-sufficiency across these domains is unlikely given the burgeoning platform intricacy and scarcity of blended marketing-technical expertise.

Think Microservices & Integrations

Maximizing the value of data layer solution components requires a combination of in-house and third-party partners to develop required microservices and integrations that are flexible and evolve with future use cases and technologies.

Focus on Consumer Rights

Maintaining compliance demands continuous resourcing towards consent management, data minimization, and restricted usage based on increasing consumer data rights. As restrictions multiply, the effectiveness of data-driven marketing strategies face new bottlenecks.

Scrutinize Costs

Optimize costs while ensuring high-value data remains accessible. There will be greater scrutiny of storage and processing costs given data volumes. Key decisions around optimal data accessibility, movement, and tiered storage based on usage intensity will aim to balance performance and expenditures.

For all of the above, not only can Aqfer deliver on these, but can deliver faster, with less cost and less risk. For marketing solution providers looking to beat the curve on cookie deprecation, changing privacy rules, and complicated tech stacks, Aqfer can help. The company has a stellar track record of delivering transformational value for some of the most savvy and forward-thinking companies in the martech and ad tech ecosystem.

For assistance with these items and more, schedule a consultation to talk to our experts today.