Representatives from MediaCom, Havas Media and Manning Gottlieb OMD were speaking during a panel debate at the AOP Autumn Conference. They agreed that the issue had become largely redundant, telling online publishers that they will "always have the advantage of fresh data" to invigorate campaigns.
Addressing the thorny subject of data ownership in front of an invited audience of online publishers, Stefan Bardega, the managing partner and head of digital at MediaCom, said: "We've got to stop worrying about 'whose data it is?' and 'are you going to steal our data?'
"Actually, if you collaborate and work together and the results are good, the client's going to come back and that's the reality of it."
Scott Moorhead, the head of digital trading and operations at Havas Media, echoed the call to move on from the issue of data "theft" levelled by some publishers.
He said: "Instead of worrying about losing data and having data stolen, start worrying about how you are going to value that data as it's an asset you have that is of value in your business."
Katie Eyton, the executive director and head of operations at Manning Gottlieb OMD, said it was about time the industry stopped holding onto old data and had a clear conversation about how to price premium fresh data.
She said: "I don't think that agencies would be resistant to paying a fair price for data, the issue is that nobody knows what that fair price is as nobody is willing to have those conversations."
Also on the panel was Steve Hobbs, the managing director of the Amnet UK trading desk at Aegis and a former deputy managing director of Carat.
He said there was an "oversupply of inventory" so if a media agency was "purely buying on audience and purely buying standard formats" then the issue of pricing data should be less relevant.
The agency executives also called for online media owners not to take a "singular" approach to their offering and even collaborate with other online media owners.
Moorhead said: "I'd rather work with someone who is allowing us access at all the points with which we want to have access. Agencies want to work across the board."
Bardega said: "I think the phrase is 'fewer, bigger better'.
"Agencies don't want to be managing loads of different partnerships with loads of smaller publishers, it's incredibly labour intensive and it's certainly true on the client side that there is a move to 'fewer, bigger, better'."