Is This the Most Useless Marketing Stat Ever?

Good morning, afternoon or evening, depending on what time you are reading this here diatribe. Ok, maybe it’s not a “forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something” — the words forceful and bitter are a bit harsh but, I reserve the right to change my opinion by the end of this piece.

This is the part of the program where I would include some more set-up verbiage before getting to the punch line or money shot. You know, when a writer fills his word count quota kinda thing? Oh wait, that’s right. This is my site. I can do whatever the hell I want.

Drum Roll

Independent Study: 99% of Marketers are Actively Responding to Data Deprecation

Now, before I get to what drives me absolutely batshit crazy about this stat (which doubled as a headline in a press release), I want to give you a moment to digest and disseminate it yourself. Do you see ANYTHING wrong or out of the ordinary with this stat?

Wait, hold that thought. Here’s the subhead that followed the headline/stat:

In an effort to collect higher quality data, nine in ten marketers plan to capture zero-party data in the next 12 months. However, less than half state they know how to use it effectively.

Now, look again and tell me if anything troubles you after reading both the stat and the subhead. Anything? Well. I will tell you this, and I say this with 1000% due respect, if you see nothing off about the stat and subhead, you may want to stop reading for I may very well offend you.

Let me start with the stat/headline, going in order of appearance.

Can someone explain to me, admittedly not the sharpest bulb in the shed, what exactly does “actively responding” mean?

If I am a marketer and I am aware of data deprecation does that mean I am “actively responding?” If I have a flat tire on my car and I yell and scream because of said flat tire, does that mean I am “actively responding?”

The journalist in me is absolutely appalled by this stunningly meaningless headline while the marketer in me is equally appalled by the stunningly meaningless stat.

Hey Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing

Then we have the subhead, which presumably speaks to how the 99% of marketers are “actively responding” to data deprecation. They are capturing zero-party data. Ok, stop the world I wanna get off. What in the name of anything on God’s green Earth is “zero party data?”

Oh wait, there is a definition. Zero-party data is “data that consumers voluntarily provide brands.” Thanks for clearing that up.

Wait, what? Isn’t that the same as first-party data you ask?

Of course it is!!!

The term “zero-party data” was coined by Forrester in 2020, at least according to a Forbes piece entitled Zero-Party Data Is The New Oil. Excuse me while I take a minute to barf up my breakfast. Have to hand it to the writer of this piece, the word “first” does not appear anywhere in the entire article lest anyone think zero-party data is a made-up bullshit term when we ALL know it’s ALL first-party data!

Ok, look perhaps I am a curmudgeon and this was in fact a diatribe. But, I’m ok with that because this kind of nonsense – yes he said nonsense – is what truly irks me. Lord knows I am the world’s largest proponent of two very distinct mantras.

  1. Keep things simple.
  2. Don’t overcomplicate things.

Ok, they are basically the same thing so, in essence, I am breaking my own rule by adhering to TWO mantras when ONE would do the trick. But I am just…so…tired of all the total bullshit noise in the marketing space.

Why would ANYONE want to make things more complicated by coining a new phrase, zero-party data, when good ol’ first-party data was just doing just fine?

Oh, I know why.

Do I ever.

Just ask me.

I’ll be glad to tell you.

Closing Thoughts

For the final word on this, I turn to someone who is always at the ready to share his opinions on any topic, but especially this one, a topic he is intimately familiar with.

I love his way of putting things and this is no different.


By Tim Carr, Head of Activation Product Marketing at Oracle Advertising. 

  • “Audience targeting is dead; you need to switch all of your targeting to context.” – says the vendor that only offers a contextual product.
  • “3rd party data is dead; you need to switch everything to first-party data and use a CDP to manage it.” – says the vendor that only sells a CDP.
  • “Cookies will be gone; my identity solution is the only one that will work in the future.” – says the identity provider that charges you every time you want to use the data you have onboarded with them.
  • “Your customers are on my platform, and I’ve got all the data you could ever need.” – says the gardener as they add another layer of mortar and bricks to the top of their walls.
  • “I own the relationship with customers, and if you want to reach your target audience using purchase data, you need to work through me.” – says the retail media network, enviously eyeing the walls of the gardener next door.

The sky isn’t falling, but you will have to make some changes, and it will take some time to adapt. But there isn’t one single solution like the statements above may imply.

One lastly…

  • “Who is it that you are trying to reach, and what are you trying to accomplish? I’ll walk you through various ways you can do that now and how you will need to adjust in the future.” – says the partner

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