Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Marketers are split down the middle when it comes to wanting integrated versus independent marketing technology solutions, but neither approach has solved the challenge of cross-channel customer targeting, a new report claims.
The Marketing Data Technology: Cutting Through the Complexity whitepaper, produced by Winterberry Group and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and sponsored by Signal, Turn and LiveRamp, was based on a survey of mostly North American marketers. It showed there’s a lack of consensus on adopting an integrated marketing technology stack versus an independent one, with equal numbers of marketers sitting in each camp.
And just over 30 per cent of those surveyed had no preference for integrated or independent solutions. Regardless of whether integration is of benefit or not, 47.8 per cent of marketers didn’t expect the rapid consolidation of marketing and data technology vendors in recent years to provide substantial benefits to end users – or disadvantages, for that matter.
In addition, 60 per cent said improved processes for sharing data among various tools, better alignment of teams, and having more experienced practitioners to lead efforts were just as vital to improving their ability to action data insights as technology interoperability.
The Winterberry Group found less than half of marketers have strong enough data and technology integration today for cross-channel initiatives such as targeting, engagement and measurement. Organisational silos continue to be a major hindrance, with five stakeholder groups – digital analytics, media buying, loyalty and direct marketing – utilising different data management tools.
On average, enterprise marketers use more than 12 toolsets to support data-driven marketing efforts, and 9 per cent are regularly working with 31 or more.
Of the technologies available around data management today, modern marketers are most familiar with analytics, ad serving, data management platforms (DMP), retargeting and demand- or supply-side platforms (DSP).
When asked for their top use cases for leveraging technology for marketing and advertising activity, audience analytics for segmentation and targeting came up trumps (82.9 per cent), followed by open-market programmatic media buying (80 per cent), and audience analytics in support of product or offer development (75 per cent).
Respondents were also asked to rank a range of qualities used to evaluate current technology investments. The list was led by reporting tools and scalability, followed by ease of use, the ability to measure return on investment, and support for a wider range of data cases. Of lesser importance were best-in-breed solutions, flexibility, and a unique or innovative approach.
Commenting on the results from a global perspective, Signal founder and chief revenue officer, Marc Kiven, said they demonstrated marketers are in the early stages of their cross-channel maturity. Signal, formerly BrightTag, provides an open data management layer aimed at helping marketers unite customer data from across their operations, regardless of the marketing technology platform being used.
Kiven was also surprised the group was split down the middle between integration versus independent solutions sourcing.
“You probably have 50 per cent that were honest, and a percentage of the other 50 per cent that weren’t honest or confused,” he claimed. “I think it’s an important bit of information to dig into.
“I expected more people to admit to this confusion, and/or that they think they’re getting what they signed up for from the platform vendors.”
Closer to home, Signal Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia managing director, Warren Billington, said a growing base of Australian marketers are investing in marketing software stacks.
“I see a lot of our customers in mid-implementation; they have made their decision,” he said. “What we’re seeing in other markets that are a little more mature or ahead of the curve is marketers realising that when they are a point to do the things they thought they could do, they’re having problems. They implement platforms but these don’t always do what it says on the box.
“My sense is we’re going to see that problem increasingly occurring locally in enterprise businesses – they’re going to find it difficult to execute based on what they bought.”
Kiven encouraged CMOs to set up internal working groups that bring marketing, IT and other data-driven lines of business together as a way of improving cross-channel data integration.
“In the US, you see marketers at a certain level being very proactive, who have the flexibility, or are in smaller organisations and don’t have the internal ownership issues or red tape. But once you get over a certain level, you have these fiefdoms that are just inherited, and that stymie innovation,” he continued. “That’s why marketers are viewing the stack as a way to innovate, or to sign just one contract and hopefully get a bunch of tools along with it.”
Billington added there remained a huge gap in the Australian market in terms of maturity and sophistication around marketing technology and data in a select few enterprises, and the rest of the market.
“There is a very long tail and not much inbetween,” he said.