44% of Marketers Say They Have a “Basic” Level of Audience Management Maturity, New Merkle Study Finds

New report features original research on audience sourcing and management among enterprise marketers

COLUMBIA, Md. — Merkle (www.merkleinc.com), a leading technology-enabled, data-driven performance marketing agency, has released the State of Audience Management Maturity Report in collaboration with MarTech Advisor. The report features original research and insights into the predominant tools used today for audience sourcing and management.

“We get frequent reader feedback about confusion surrounding audience and customer data management in the complex multi-channel environment”

The report features findings from a 2019 survey of more than 100 senior marketing professionals from US enterprises. According to the survey, 44% of marketers place themselves at a “basic” level of audience management maturity, in spite of having multiple tools deployed for both audience definition and audience management. The report also found that over 60 percent of marketers use customer relationship management (CRM) tools, email service providers (ESPs), marketing automation platforms (MAPs), and marketing clouds to manage audience data.

“In our role as strategic marketing advisors, there’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace around audience management,” said Matthew Mobley, chief technology officer at Merkle. “We wanted to conduct a study to better understand audience management perceptions and practices across enterprise-level marketers at varying stages of audience management maturity. We believe these insights will help to clear the confusion and allow marketers to truly leverage customer-centric strategies supported by the right processes and tools.”

“We get frequent reader feedback about confusion surrounding audience and customer data management in the complex multi-channel environment,” said Chitra Iyer, Editor-in-Chief, MarTech Advisor. “With this study, we wanted a reality check on how marketers balance the strategy, execution and technology elements of audience management, and connect that to implications for marketers who want to get it right.”

The report indicates that there is a progressive trend to move toward more first-party data-driven audience management as well as a more balanced adtech and martech approach.

Additional survey findings include:

  • 23 percent of marketers only have access to anonymous (device or cookie level) data and 7 percent use only cookie-level data. 41 percent and 29 percent claim access to individual and account level data, respectively.
  • 56 percent of marketers classify their current approach to audience journey management at a “pre-built static level.” 22 percent claim they have either machine learning and AI-powered “next best action” or “no journey mapping at all” to inform campaign messaging.
  • 15 percent of marketers say that consent is poorly integrated into their audience management.

The report also outlines key takeaways for marketers redefining their audience management strategies, including evaluating the customer journey and data sources, and choosing the right partner to build and execute these customer-centric, scalable experiences.

For more information and to download the full report, visit here.


In collaboration with Merkle, MarTech Advisor researchers conducted in-depth telephone interviews about current audience management practices, tools, and outcomes with 102 senior marketing professionals (VP, director and above) of enterprises with $100 million and above in annual revenue. The respondents were spread across industries, from education to automotive, healthcare to agriculture; served both consumer and business customers; and are all primarily based in the United States of America.

About Merkle

Merkle is a leading data-driven, technology-enabled, global performance marketing agency that specializes in the delivery of unique, personalized customer experiences across platforms and devices. For more than 30 years, Fortune 1000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations have partnered with Merkle to maximize the value of their customer portfolios. The agency’s heritage in data, technology, and analytics forms the foundation for its unmatched skills in understanding consumer insights that drive people-based marketing strategies. Its combined strengths in performance media, customer experience, customer relationship management, loyalty, and enterprise marketing technology drive improved marketing results and competitive advantage. With 9,000 employees, Merkle is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, with 22 additional offices in the US and 36 offices in Europe and APAC. In 2016, the agency joined the Dentsu Aegis Network. For more information, contact Merkle at 1-877-9-Merkle or visit www.merkleinc.com.

About MarTech Advisor

MarTech Advisor is a leading digital resource for unbiased news, in-depth research, expert views and perspectives on the constantly evolving marketing technology space. MarTech Advisor facilitates the modern-marketers’ digital transformation journey and helps them succeed. Our community of over a million professionals includes highly engaged thought leaders, marketing experts, and practitioners looking to create business impact with martech. MarTech Advisor is a part of Ziff Davis B2B, one of the fastest-growing online business and technology media companies in the world.