Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The tyranny of data decay, and how to avoid it

By Cameron Church, CEO, Watching That

Whether we’re talking about dentistry or data, decay is real, but it’s also very preventable.The concept of data decay refers to how the value of data reduces over time. When we’re talking advertising and media – the timeframes are tiny, and the impact of the decay is huge.

In the specific sector that we work in – Connected TV ­– pretty much every aspect of business is ‘data driven’. Or, at least, it should be.

This means that all decision-making should be guided and influenced by the analysis and interpretation of the relevant and available data. By doing this you maximise your chances of success.

So the value of your data is a result of how quickly you can collect, interpret, and take action from it.

Inversely, as time marches on, the value of your data decays.

Data decay in action

It’s not hard to see this in action: imagine your platform is streaming a major live sporting event and suffers a partial disruption due to, say, a CDN issue. For ten minutes, thousands of your viewers lose the ability to watch the game.

Just imagining the fallout of this experience to your business is enough to give you nightmares.

It’s at this point that monitoring framework becomes vital. Using a system that continuously collects data will enable you to be notified in real-time when something does go wrong. And you can fix it right there and then.

In this case the value decay of the data is a matter of minutes and seconds.

The same is true for other aspects of the CTV business, like the all-important revenue operations.

Everyday Rev-Ops teams are in a continuous fight to ensure every opportunity to monetise is realised. If you’re reliant on after-the-fact reporting, then ten minutes becomes an hour, then becomes a day. And revenue loss goes from four, to five, to six figures very quickly.

If an ad campaign under delivers for even a day, it can cause a cavity that requires back filling with ‘make goods’ that drive down profitability, and overall revenue numbers. Do this once or twice and you’ll recover. Make it a habit and you’ll be out of business. 

Operating at the speed of a business means data needs to be continuously supplied, with minimal delay. And the returns are well worth it.

Data winners and losers

From healthcare to Formula 1 racing, the speed at which teams can access and action the relevant data divides the winners and losers.

Unfortunately, however many fall back on generic business intelligence tools, governed data lakes, and monolithic spreadsheets for data management.

It’s not that these tools don’t provide value, of course they do, but they are used too infrequently and irregularly. They’re not designed with your business speciality in mind. Thereby they significantly, if unintentionally, decay the value of data they try to leverage. 

Increasingly the differences in business are made in the moment, and these approaches simply lag too much to be of any real value.

So it’s time to re-evaluate data management, and assess it against the value decay your data is suffering. Like your dental hygiene, investing now will pay off well into the future.


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