Data governance in marketing: why technology is better than principles and practices


There’s not much fun about data governance. In fact, it’s right up there on the amusement scale with compliance management and forensic accounting. Or visiting the proctologist.

That’s too bad, because if you’re looking for granularity, measurability, and measuring true ROI in digital advertising campaigns, you need a level of data governance.

The bad rap that data governance gets is real. Unfortunately, it’s mostly because data governance strategy and data governance process is mostly about data governance policies. And it’s not about data governance tools. That’s too bad, because with the right tools, the whole conversation changes.

49% of organizations say that human error is the biggest cause of data inaccuracies

– Experian report

In fact, when you bring in the right data governance solutions, compliance is not as much a process of forcing people to do things in a certain way anymore (although yes, people still need to follow some standards).

Instead, it becomes more about supplying the right tools that (mostly) do the work for them.

Incidentally, that also makes it much easier to introduce as a corporate policy.

What we’ll cover in this report:

  • What is data governance?
  • Goals of data governance
  • Principles of data governance
  • Data governance in marketing
  • Why you need data governance
  • How Singular helps provide enterprise data governance
  • If Singular does it … you don’t have to
  • Next steps

What is data governance?

Let’s start with a quick overview.

Data governance is typically a means for large or complex organizations to manage significant quantities of data. That generally means systems, rules, and syntax, plus processes and procedures.

Data security, data governance

Most often, you see data governance in the context of management reporting, finance teams, and procurement and production groups. Keeping names, definitions, and terms aligned means there’s clarity, there’s accuracy, and there’s accountability.

Most often, you don’t see a huge emphasis on data governance in marketing organizations.

One reason is that some marketing departments don’t do huge amounts of advertising … and then have to deal with the extensive tracking and measurement that’s required to optimize their spend. Another is that marketing teams typically are more … well, artsy than the finance or sales teams, and data governance — let’s be honest — doesn’t sound very Picasso.

Goals of data governance

Traditional data governance in traditional settings, done right, enables better decision-making, reduces costs, and ensures transparency. It also reduces operational friction, builds standardized processes, and trains people in following the right processes.

“The most common objective of Data Governance programs is to standardize data definitions across an enterprise or initiative,” says the Data Governance Institute.

(The kind of data governance we’re focusing on, of course, won’t rely on training per se. It will rely primarily on technology.)

The most important benefit of data governance?

Improved decision-making capacity.

Ultimately the goal is that similar things are handled in similar ways, and that you can enable tracking and management of grouped items. For marketers, of course, the most obvious application is marketing campaigns, creative names, linking syntax, and other details that, done right, can enable better measurement.

Principles of data governance

According to DGI, there are eight principles of data governance. Note that these are characteristics of a enterprise-level program set up for an entire company, and not necessarily for a marketing team that is focused on optimizing ad spend.

  1. Integrity
  2. Transparency
  3. Auditability
  4. Accountability
  5. Stewardship
  6. Checks and balances
  7. Standardization
  8. Change management

All of them have some level of applicability to marketing, but some are right down the strike zone. You do have to have integrity and transparency in marketing data. Data structures, especially for marketing campaigns, do need to be auditable. Someone needs accountability for data governance, and standardization matters.

But data governance in marketing campaigns is a bit different.

Data governance in marketing

What we’re primarily concerned about in marketing data is data integrity and data consistency to ensure marketing measurability. (Which, of course, is critical for optimization.)

It starts with unification. Most of Singular’s clients have a key goal of unifying their marketing data. Unification is a precursor to extracting actionable insights, and it starts with clean marketing data.


Creative names for your images, videos, and other assets can easily proliferate to chaos. The same is true of your marketing and advertising campaign names. Top modern marketing organizations that are high volume might work with dozens of marketing technology vendors. They probably have multiple marketing agencies and/or partners. And they will easily run campaigns with upwards of thirty paid marketing partners.

So it’s critical to get campaign names and creative names correct. And to keep them consistent from the very beginning.

That means deciding on a common link structure and taxonomy … and sticking to it. But we don’t want you to have to do this manually.

Why you need data governance in advertising and cost data

If you’re measuring marketing performance, you need standardization.

What one partner calls a view another calls an impression. What one ad network says is one person watching a video isn’t long enough for another ad network to count. While there’s some commonalities, every ad network reports data in their own formats, with their own names, and with their own definitions.

Singular fixes that, automatically. (More on how below.)

Because we’re dual integrated with almost every single ad partner you can think of, we already know what terms and definitions they use. (Wondering what dual integration is?) We’ve mapped those terms and definitions to a single standardized, common nomenclature, which means a click is a click is a click, an impression is an impression, and a video view in one place can be compared to a video view in another place.

And that means you can finally do accurate ROI and ROAS calculations. You’re now comparing apples and apples and oranges to oranges, and you don’t have to do any additional work.

It’s all done for you.

How Singular helps provide enterprise data governance

That’s part of what Singular does: standardization of data types and definitions. In addition, we normalize data from multiple partners so that apples-to-apples comparison can happen.

But we also do more.

We also start at the source.

As we’ve said, data governance maintains nomenclature sanity, which aids in data unification. It also helps with normalization and standardization. Importantly, it’s also critical for combining top funnel ad campaign data with bottom funnel conversion data — a core part of the value that Singular offers — in order to get the most granular insight into advertising success.

It’s critical that data governance doesn’t just happen at marketing data’s final destination. Instead, it begins at its source. Getting this right enables maximal granularity of data and trackability of marketing impact.

Realistically, this can’t be accomplished reliably at scale via manual processes. Automating naming and link taxonomy and monitoring of usage ensure this becomes standard operating procedure, which is why Singular Links allow you to create links automatically, with all the data you need embedded.

That’s doable for any app, any digital platform, and any campaign, for:

  • Standard links
  • iOS deeplinks
  • iOS Universal Links
  • Android links
  • Android deeplinks

And, if you need to create links in their dozens, hundreds, or even more, we can also help you with automated solutions for that.

Doing so ensures you have tracking codes embedded. It improved campaign reporting accuracy, and can help you unify cross-channel and cross-platform data. And it ensures that you can rely on the result when working to optimize click-through, conversion, and ROI.

If Singular does it, you don’t have to

Yes, people do have to abide by standards. But if you’re relying on manual processes, you’re sunk. The reality is that something will go wrong.

The key with Singular is that you don’t have to solely rely on people to abide by proper data governance policies. Appropriate data governance solutions make compliance simply a matter of using the right tool.

Next steps

Very few people get excited about data governance or compliance. But doing the right thing with your data unlocks vastly more opportunity to optimize ad spend and measure marketing effectiveness.

Here’s how to proceed: