If data really is the new oil, how do you know where to drill? And how do you extract and refine the black stuff, once found?

Most marketers now understand the importance and the power of acquiring, segmenting and targeting against distinct audience data characteristics.

But, as they jump in, many skip over the strategy part. That is according to one ad ad-tech vendor’s boss.

“You need a data strategy,”says Tim Jenkins, 4INFO CEO, in this video interview with Beet.TV, at the Beet.TV Identity Forum, where he was a speaker.

“How sophisticated and complex completely depends on your business, but what we find with most brands is it’s the number one thing they lack, a real understanding of data in general, how to use it, but more importantly, what data they have.”

The application of consumer data in marketing has remained one of the hottest topics in the last couple of years.

New regulatory limits on indiscriminate ad targeting have accelerated the coming-together of ad-tech and mar-tech. Now there is a growing realization of the importance of customer or prospect profile data. That places a greater emphasis on CRM.

“What we encourage brands to do at the outset is to take a step back, understand the data they have before they start buying a lot of third party data, and trying to put together, stitch together data assets to go activate in this new media model,” Jenkins adds.

“Understand what data you have, customer data, how it relates to your objectives.”

4INFO uses what it calls Connected Identity Maps and its Bullseye ID, which starts by mapping a mobile device to a home address, a match key for other devices, too.

But the company has also branched out to other platforms, like the new wave of TV devices.

Jenkins says 4INFO supplies Connected Identity Maps to “a number of large players in both the addressable and OTT television space”.

This video was produced in New York City at Identity in Focus: Understanding the Cross-Screen Consumer in a Fragmented World, at Beet.TV Leadership Forum, presented by 4INFO  and hosted by Viacom.  For more videos from the series, please visit this page.