Data Stewardship

Data Stewardship—the collection, management, use, storage and disposal of data—is becoming an increasingly important part of any organization’s operations. Maintaining ethical and efficient control over an ever-increasing data flow is also becoming a more demanding and necessary part of successful companies.

As the digital industry has grown and matured, digital publishers and advertisers have become increasingly dependent on data to drive their businesses. Interactive advertising’s very foundation is data created and exchanged by online consumers about their interests and intentions. That data is essential to guiding the creation and serving of relevant messages. Increasingly sophisticated techniques—using more and more data—are improving the power of publishers and advertisers to reach specific audiences through their computers, tablets and mobile devices—offering ever more pertinent words and images to assist consumers and businesses in their purchasing decisions. Throughout the process of making messages more relevant, good data stewardship is increasingly indispensable—and increasingly challenging. These converging trends are why we created this document.

In online advertising, good data stewardship is crucial to managing an especially unwieldy supply chain, composed, or at least communicated, entirely in the form of data. “The supply chain by which digital advertising is created, delivered, measured, and optimized is so porous and perilous that it jeopardizes consumer trust and business growth,” IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg wrote in a column published as we release this document. “The risk is so severe that the underlying innovativeness of the Internet itself is in danger of grinding to a halt—unless the interactive advertising industry agrees to police its own precincts and root out the malefactors.” In fact, the greatest part of policing our own precincts is to engage in good data stewardship.

Our first goal in publishing this document is to help our colleagues in the industry by providing a guide to current data stewardship practices, organized into 10 steps that walk the reader through to best practices in the field—and warn against some questionable practices.