In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Marketers have been too reliant on agencies for executing their marketing strategies but are finally taking control back thanks to the rise of first-party data investment and management.
That’s the view of co-founder and CTO of data management platform (DMP) provider Krux, Vivek Vaidya, who also predicted a rise in ‘data consortiums’ between brands over the next 12 months as marketers seek to better understand their customers through data.
“Marketers have finally shown up in a meaningful way to adopt a data management platform for doing true data-driven marketing,” he said. “Previously, and it’s still the case to a certain degree, marketers were too reliant on their agencies to execute their marketing strategies.
“But with data, agencies don’t control that – the marketers do. They have CRM systems and all these other offline systems where they store data. But they have to implement a truly holistic and consolidated data management strategy and all of that data needs to be part of it. It’s not just about tracking which campaigns users are clicking on, or which ads are being served and how much traffic comes to the website.”
It’s a trend that is benefitting Krux, which has built a DMP platform aimed at assisting organisations to consolidate all data assets about the customer, such as transactional, behavioural and relationship management intelligence, into one central platform.
“You can’t do that if you’re just working with the agency,” Vaidya continued. “Marketers are now realising they have to play an active role in implementation of the data management platform.”
One of the more recent use cases for DMP technology highlighted by Vaidya was what he called “global delivery management”, or the ability to control how much exposure a user has to advertising. He pointed to the vendor’s work with several FMCG clients, including Kelloggs in the US and Australia, as an example of this approach.
“As these marketers are now starting to get more sophisticated about the types of systems and channels they use for advertising, they recognise that bombarding a user with the same message over and over again starts to get detrimental after a certain period of time. So this whole ad frequency management side is becoming real,” he said.
“There are more marketers coming up with a strategy for how they’re going to identify, reach, manage and control the consumers they advertise to. We have been working on some interesting use cases around incrementality, particularly across cross-device.”
Such activities not only benefit the harassed consumer, they also helped marketers realise significant savings by eliminating wasted impression, Vaidya said.
The comments were made during a media lunch organised by Krux in Sydney.
As well as the shift in power from agency to marketer through data, agencies also came under fire during the event for their inability to keep up with the increasingly demanding, iterative content needs of data-driven marketing.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers associate director of digital, strategy and innovation, Tim Lovitt, many agencies are struggling with real-time availability of data and are unable to keep up with the needs of marketers today.
“Agencies are starting to struggle and are unlikely to hold onto ownership of the customer data, especially when the customer wanted it or the publisher or brand had more access or use for it than they do,” he said. “They struggle with it internally in their own agencies, let alone helping partners and clients understand that.”
Lovitt also suggested most Australian brands, as well as agencies, have a long way to go before they make the necessary shift from a campaign to always-on engagement mindset.
“I see almost no one ready for always-on in Australia,” he said. “The biggest spenders are starting to get their heads around it, and a few are experimenting in retail with this always-on, personalised approaches, but if you want results, it’s critical to.”
Data sharing on the rise
Another trend highlighted by Vaidya was the rise in data sharing arrangements between brands and organisations looking to better understand and respond to their customers. Examples include the Pangaea Alliance around digital advertising struck between several premium publishers, which consists of The Guardian, CNN, Financial Times, Reuters and The Economist.
“This notion of data sharing is a real thing, not just across the US, but also Australia and across the world and we have clients all executing some manner of these data sharing arrangements,” Vaidya claimed.
Another example is the conversations being had between automotive manufacturers and insurance companies about having a better story around identifying consumers, and making sure they get the right messaging and levels of engagement, he said.
“The price you end up paying for losing a customer is astronomical, and brands have finally started to accept that and are taking steps to minimise those lost customers,” Vaidya added.
Krux local managing director, Jo Gaines, told CMO the rise in first-party data sharing is coming into its own as marketers increasingly focus on organising and accessing data to understand known and unknown customers. She noted many FMCG, retail, travel and automotive brands, who’ve previously not had access to first-party data on the end customer, are increasingly turning to data sharing as a way to improve their media and marketing activities and close the loop on customer insight.
The rise of DMPs is providing the 'white room' or safe haven many have needed to share data assets securely and comfortably, she said. Among the local industry examples Gaines pointed to of data collaboration in action are Quantium with Woolworths, Telstra and Foxtel, MCN and Qantas' Red Planet offering.
"It makes a lot of sense - it's less [media] wastage and when consumers won't put up with seeing the same thing over and over, having that complete view is hugely valuable," she said.
"FMCG moving first on this as they know there's a lot of wastage; travel is another one - to not only see the flights you book, but also where you're booking accommodation and tickets to events, and having that entire user journey, is important."