It all seemed so simple, right? Unify your data in one platform. Establish a single view of your customer. Orchestrate your campaigns seamlessly across channels.

The unified data stack was supposed to lead us to marketing nirvana. Instead, it turned into the proverbial Tower of Babel: a pursuit of human folly that incurred the wrath of the Marketing Gods, and left the peoples of the world scattered and speaking different languages.

The marketing ecosystem is more complex than ever. It is no longer realistic to believe that consumer data can ever be fully unified in one platform.

That’s why, at Habu, we are now taking a very different approach that embraces the highly distributed but interconnected nature of modern marketing.

The era of distributed data

We are building software to close critical gaps in the data flow, because all of the data that brands care about will never be in one place.

To achieve our goals, we need to embrace that reality, because privacy is here to stay, walled gardens don't give you full control, it's a challenge to view the conversion event with channel partners, and cloud consolidation is limited.

Privacy is here to stay

Smart brands aren’t just doing the regulatory minimum in terms of their obligation to consumers, they are fully embracing Privacy-by-Design principles: including data minimization and limitation of use.

That means you don’t just centralize as much data as possible, simply for the sake of doing it. Instead, you take a use case driven approach, and leverage only the data that you need in the place that you need it.

Walled gardens keep data in

Google, Facebook, and Amazon control 70% of the digital advertising market, and they will never let consumer data that they control leave their four walls.

No single view of the customer is possible without understanding media exposure. The best we can hope to do is to selectively bring information into the walled gardens, to join datasets there, and run analysis using their tools, such as Google’s Ads Data Hub.

Channel partners

The reality is, very few brands control every step in the customer journey, and frequently they’re blind to the most critical one: the conversion event.

So, unless marketers negotiate data rights with their channel partners, say goodbye to that unified view. Privacy concerns are making these deals even harder to strike, which is why solutions like data clean rooms are emerging to enable safe, secure analysis in a neutral environment.

Cloud consolidation

In a competitive, fragmented marketing landscape, it’s all about scale. The big clouds are focused on vendor lock-in and integrating their own disparate acquisitions. Marketers who need two different stacks to talk to each other are often out of luck, and the consumer experience suffers as a result.

What will unify disparate data? Data clean rooms

Marketing is moving rapidly into a post-platform era. The Tower of Babel is falling, and data will remain distributed -- not unified. For the foreseeable future, marketers will remain stuck with tools that speak different languages.

The good news is we understand where we’re living and are building data clean room software that can help with the translation.