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You’re Asking a Lot: 4 Steps to Onboard Marketing Excellence

Andrew HawthorneNovember 13, 2014

As a marketer in the old days of direct mail strategies, targeting individuals used to be easy, right?  Your organization would have a CRM database, or perhaps a list you acquired from your data partner, and you may do some selections on that list based on some first-party attributes, or even third-party attributes.  Once the selection was made, you mailed.  Even in large companies where the data and marketing organizations were not one in the same, the data selection processes were such that they worked nicely together, and the marketing folks understood what they needed to do to initiate a data pull for a campaign.

Then came digital.  And mobile.  And addressable TV.

Very quickly, the advertising model took off.  Websites and digital publishers needed revenue, and fast.  They have the traffic.  How do they sell this stuff to advertisers?  Anonymous cookies.  Go.

Advertisers adjusted to the new landscape quickly.  Marketing teams were expanded, new digital teams were created and agencies were hired.

Ads are running.  Lots of ads.  But are they working?

Fundamentally, you get it.  They’re not working.  You know the routine I’m talking about: wide, anonymous reach and low frequency.  The email equivalent of “spray and pray” for digital media is not providing the return it’s supposed to, and you can’t even show that.

You know it’s time to target real people, real individuals tied to cookies and publishers in a privacy-compliant manner.  You know it’s time to go back to what matters, and what’s going to move the needle for your brand: data-based targeting.  But now, you need the data connected to publishers and cookies like never before. You’re ready to bring this concept to the table and prove it, but suddenly, you hit road blocks.  To some, it’s a new concept, and that can be scary.

Large companies need innovators like you in order to win.

Some might say you’re asking a lot.  You are asking your organization to fundamentally change the way it targets digital media and looks at attribution.   This is no small feat, but in doing so, you and your colleagues will reap the benefits.  Let me share some of what I’m seeing on the front lines of the sales process on many occasions, and perhaps this will help you in your quest.

I frequently witness organizations within a company coming together and speaking like never before.  Data, analytics, marketing strategy and the agency, all eventually working in tandem to onboard first-party data and target real people, at the individual level, across channels, at scale.  Now, instead of wasting media dollars on over 50% mistargeted cookies, they’re not wasting a single impression, and they’re able to adjust their frequency to actually make a difference.

So how do you get your company on board with onboarding?  (Excuse the pun, but I’ve been wanting to use that one.)

  1. Encourage a match test.  Look at your data, and understand where you can reach people right now with a partner like Acxiom.  Connections are key.
  2. Push your agency.  Many agencies, large and small, are hesitant to move this direction because they are not aware or might feel concerned how it would affect their business model.  Acxiom happens to partner with some outstanding forward-thinking agencies already embracing winning targeting strategies.  Everybody wins with smarter targeting.
  3. Don’t forget test and control.  Now that you’ll be targeting individuals, your testing becomes even more meaningful.  Since each individual in your data will have multiple cookies associated with them and is connected across publishers, testing is more accurate than it has ever been.  (Acxiom is dedicated to the continual evolution of campaign reporting methodologies and the development of actionable analytics and metrics.  If you’re not familiar with five key methods of lift analysis, you’re already behind, but can easily catch up.)  At the very least, start talking to your analytics folks, and get them ready to start analytics based on individuals, not cookies.  They’ll be excited, and they’ll want a privacy-compliant big data environment to connect online and offline data.
  4. Make friends with the data team.  By getting the data team involved early, they’ll be included in the conversations necessary around selection criteria, privacy-compliance and processing.  That way, when it’s time to start onboarding data, they’ll be ready to go when you are.

By keeping these ideas in mind when connecting various teams, you will be successful in squashing media waste and transforming your audience targeting across channels to be more effective.

Watch and see, not only will the increased communication between teams fuel your audience targeting shift, but it will also open doors for more project collaboration, some of which you never saw coming.  Look at you, bringing people together.

Really what it comes down to is: you might need to connect your company’s organization before you can connect customer audiences.  You can be the innovator to make that happen.