While CRM tops digital businesses’ priorities list for 2016 (Forrester), it also presents the largest challenge. The biggest obstacle marketers often face when attempting new data-driven marketing initiatives is an inability to access the data they need.
The IAB Data Center of Excellence recently published a study to explore how digital marketing and media practitioners are using audience data, and how they intend to evolve their data‐centric practices in 2016. The study found that the biggest obstacle impeding a digital marketer’s ability to derive value from their data‐driven marketing and media initiatives is an insufficient availability/functionality of supporting technology. Let’s look at the technology that's frequently used to help solve these data challenges for marketers.
CRM data—or any data which resides in a platform, database or department that is not managed by marketing—is often difficult to obtain because it’s still housed in silos within areas of a business that are tasked with capturing and utilizing it. Without a centralized platform, all data pulls are static. Because your customer’s behavior changes with each passing moment, these pulls should be dynamic and incorporate real-time data in order to be of value.
In addition to the data you already own, advertisers who use third-party data to generate more robust customer profile segments run into an even greater challenge. Without the assistance of a centralized platform, it’s nearly impossible to derive a complete view of your customers in real time.
Data Management Platforms
To solve this, digital marketers often turn to data management platforms, or DMPs. DMPs are used to collect and house customer data coming from online and offline channels, providing centralized control for these siloed data sources. Some of the data types housed in a DMP include CRM, loyalty membership, transactional, preferences, online and offline media consumption, and in-store data.
In addition, DMPs assist with the analysis of data, enabling marketers to create robust customer audiences that can provide more personalized and targeted advertising. DMPs make this possible by allowing users to segment and merge data sources, generating actionable insights that can be applied to marketing campaigns.
Demand-side Advertising Platforms
The easiest way to execute on new customer audiences (your segmented data) is to have your DMP send the data to a demand-side advertising platform (DSP). DSPs are used to purchase advertising across a range of publishers and they target customers according to the audience segments within your DMP. It’s important to note that this is a fraction of what DMPs and DSPs can do. In the bigger picture their use is even more comprehensive.
As the data that retailers collect and manage grows, so does the need for technology that will make it easier to access, and turn into insights that are valuable for the entire business. For digital marketers, we need a holistic view of customers that allows us to understand both customer behavior and intent in order to serve the most relevant and personalized advertising possible. Data management platforms are an important foundational tool we can use to help get us started.
Companies like Adobe, Krux, Neustar and Oracle provide DMP solutions. You’ll find that many DSPs also have a DMP as these two platforms are used in conjunction to each other. And now Google, with the introduction of their Analytics 360 Suite, is getting into the game. Google’s platform will be ideally positioned to assist paid search marketers, as it integrates seamlessly with AdWords, Google Display Network, and DoubleClick. For now, it will only integrate data from other Google platforms. That may change in time and you can still input CRM data by using a data onboarding service, such as LiveRamp, to leverage this within the Analytics 360 Suite. However, in the short term, if you use online data and analytics from some third parties, such as IBM or Adobe, you will not be able to incorporate this data within the Analytics 360 Suite.
The End Result
The end result of data integration, regardless of the system you choose, enables brands to have faster and easier access to customer, performance and third-party data, facilitating the creation of more personalized and relevant ads. Search marketers, for example, could use existing CRM data in conjunction with tools like Google Customer Match to deliver more personalized ad programs. The ability to see these data sources in a single platform provides a more holistic view of the entire customer journey and the ability to better understand the impact of investments across all channels. This translates into more relevant content, and ultimately, a much better shopping experience for customers—a win/win for all involved.
So what tools do you use to make sense of your data? How are you applying these insights to digital advertising? Share with us here!