Should advertisers manage their own production database? Not really, no.

Over the years I’ve worked on and built a number of databases for clients and production consultancies. Some were large scale animals where production management was just a small module of a much larger media behemoth. Others were simple legacy systems that needed updating to the cloud.

The interesting ones for me are the small scale production consultancy databases, as these are tools I work with every day and have a direct bearing on my ability to manage workflow. I keep my own database in a constant beta state, making small improvements all the time as I learn more development tricks.

A sticky question that comes up repeatedly from clients is the question of ownership. Should the advertiser own and administer the database or should they allow their consultant to administer (usually the consultant designed database) while they retain ownership of the data?

I readily admit that I have a strong bias towards consultant administration. I believe that sentiment comes from a large CPG procurement client who weaponized the data against their consultants – including me. We went from reporting about 10 key data points per project to over 70 points per project including incremental breakdowns of how we saved them money. They ultimately took everything internal, including my job!

For most advertisers, I don’t think direct ownership of the database management is a good idea.

Last summer I worked with a large global advertiser who’s procurement lead insisted on complete ownership of the data and the data management process. I think that like many procurement folks, she felt that procurement methodology applied to the creative process would yield a standard deviation from the cost norm which she could use to beat production vendors into submission with. What she got was a firehose of data being input by folks who didn’t really understand the data, including very inexpensive personnel ‘scraping data’ from bids into the database.

I have seen this reflexive approach many times. Another advertiser insisted that they receive all bids in their original Excel format, so she could import them directly into her database for analysis - exactly the same purpose.

Keeping the database management in the hands of subject matter experts I feel is the best approach. The data is kept cleaner, the nuances are not lost and the areas of maximum benefit to the advertiser are kept in sharp focus.