Data-driven digital marketing is forcing sea changes in the way marketers plan their buys, and transactions are likely to come down to a matter of milliseconds as instant analysis of consumer behavior improves, analysts say. Challenges remain, however, including the limitations of still-prevalent cookies. "Near real-time data is forcing marketers -- who historically had to plan buy cycles a month, six months, a year ahead -- to collapse that and move closer to real time," said Bob Ivins, Mindshare's head of data.

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