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Limelight Platform


June 17, 2021

Data, Differently: The Shift from Owning Your Own Data to Owning the Right Data

Limelight Platform

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A Q&A with Andrew Carlin, EVP, Sales & Customer Success at Limelight Platform

While today’s data analysis tools become ever more sophisticated, the sheer amount of data available can be so unwieldy as to render it futile. In order for us to contextualize and derive real insights, the ways we capture information must change, says Andrew Carlin, EVP, Sales & Customer Success at Limelight Platform. According to Carlin, the drive to own as much data as possible is an outdated concept. Marketers must refocus their data capture efforts or they could be missing out on profound opportunities—especially in the experiential space.


Owning your own data has been a buzzy topic for some time now, but the emphasis is changing from quantity to quality. Why is that?

Carlin: It’s an overarching theme that I come across quite a bit: you want autonomy to a certain extent around data—but data is only as good as the stuff that you can use. That’s one of the biggest challenges when it comes to data acquisition, because there’s so much data that can be acquired and leveraged. You can talk about all the ways you can slice and dice it until the cows come, but really, it’s about usable data. If you don’t build a good foundation and structure the data properly around what your requirements are, you’re not going to be able to use it.

You can get caught in the weeds, so to speak.

Carlin: That’s it—it’s overwhelming. It’s either not usable or not measurable, and that can clearly be a waste of time and money and effort. I love it when clients say, “Feed me a firehose”; because it gives me an opportunity to dig down into more of the why and the what: Why do you want this data? What are you really being measured on? What are your KPIs? If I can get clear line of sight into those answers— especially if it’s well before activation—I can tie it back to actionable results.

What if the clients don’t know those answers? 

Carlin: That’s fine. That’s all part of our consultative approach. I don’t expect everybody to be an expert—we live and breathe this every day, day-in, day-out. It comes down to quality versus quantity. With quality, you’re spear-hunting, whereas with quantity, it’s just the proverbial ‘throwing it at a wall and seeing what sticks’. When you couple in personalization to really create a connected experience—serving up the right content to the right person at the right time—throwing it against the wall just doesn’t work. “Let me get as much data as I can and I’ll put it through our system and hope for good results to pop out”—that’s an older mentality. It’s not about having a wide mouth at the top of a funnel anymore.

That must be especially true in the context of experiential, where ROI has been notoriously hard to prove.

Carlin: With experiential, we’ve always known that cost per acquisition is much higher. It might be much more difficult for a brand to swallow the investment upfront by focusing on live events and the like, but the quality and level of engagement is going to be much better than the quantity. The right data bears that out. You can’t underestimate the value of consumer experiences, where you can interact with consumers in a live, intimate setting. The industry and the world is catching up to the stuff we were talking about 7 years ago. But now, people are listening and eyes are opening.

And the pandemic helped pull back the curtain on experiential’s value, presumably?

Carlin: Yes, the pandemic has accelerated the pace; everyone wants to get on the pent-up demand train. We’re all just raring to go out and see concerts and festivals and those types of things. But there’s a number of things playing into it. Some of it comes down to Apple and Facebook and others constantly changing their algorithms. The AC Nielsens of the day—those who predominantly focused on the earned, owned and paid channels—are hurting.

So how is Limelight helping their clients with this new reality?

Carlin: Compliance, for one. If you look at Merkle, where you just buy a list, the legality of using certain types of data and what can be used is your responsibility. Whether it’s GDPR, CASL, even accessibility, clients of Limelight are covered; you don't need to be an expert. 

That dovetails into the ecosystem conversation—the ‘Do we build it or do we buy it?’ question.

Carlin: What I think a lot of clients underestimate is, when you buy it, you’re becoming part of an ecosystem. But if the vendor you selected doesn’t give you the opportunity to engage in that ecosystem, you’re missing out on so much value. At Limelight, we run product counsel sessions, where we bring together non-competitive brands to learn and support each other’s success. Fundamentally—whether strategically or tactically—they’re all trying to solve for very similar things; it’s just that the lens they see the world through is slightly different. Data is supposed to be informative. If you are structuring and utilizing it properly, it’s supposed to help you tack and figure out which ways to go: Where should I double-down? Where should I pull back? It’s meant to help you make informative and educated decisions. And be able to report up on it and why you should be doing those things.

Which goes back to having too much of it. Too much and it can become useless.

Carlin: It’s also that you don’t want your data to become dated, to become stale. The longer it sits stagnant, it’s useless. There needs to be a consistent fluidity around your data acquisition efforts. You need to consistently find ways to cleanse it and enhance it. 

Speaking of enhancements, Limelight recently acquired Meshh, the global leader in spatial analytics.

Carlin: The partnership allows us to marry together passive and active data, giving clients a holistic view of the events for the first time. But again, we’re just one pipe into your core data stack. Data can come from multiple channels. We’re the offline channel in, but that data needs to be mashed up with your other data sets. We’re not the end-all, be-all. 

So when it comes to data, what’s the first step for clients looking to make the shift from ‘as much as possible’ to ‘as focused as possible’?

Carlin: It’s recognizing that the status quo is not acceptable anymore. It’s taking a step back and really thinking about what you want to achieve. Limelight prides itself on being vanilla—meaning when you get schooled up on an instance of our platform, it’s not configured. You’re essentially configuring the workflow, the touchpoints, and ultimately what data you want to pull back depending on your goals. Then we can focus on how to personalize experiences to obtain the data points that align with KPIs like brand loyalty or brand affinity etc. But the first step is acknowledging that change needs to be constant and that you have to evolve.

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