Resolving Beyond The Acronyms

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"Data-Driven Thinking" is a column written by members of the media community and containing fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Joanna O'Connell is Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.

I stink at New Year’s resolutions. My track record is so bad I’ve all but given up making them in my non-work life. But as a professional exercise, it struck me that writing down some New Year’s resolutions could actually be a really great thing - something I could refer back to throughout the year to remind me of important unanswered questions I had at the start of 2013.

For me, this year must be about continuing to evolve my thinking on what it means - and what it takes - to be a successful 21st century marketer.  This means thinking beyond my favorite acronyms, the display media LUMAscape, and RTB growth numbers, and aiming bigger and broader.  So, this year, I resolve to:

  • Prove the value of programmatic buying, data management and advanced attribution. I want to know, and show, once and for all that there are real, tangible, bottom line benefits to adopting these tools and practices - to the industry, to marketers, to the agencies who support them and to the publishers who serve them. It’s a money-making decision in the long run.
  • Demystify "DMP."  Back in an opinion piece I wrote in late 2010, I proclaimed 2011 “the year of the DMP.”  In reality, here we are at the beginning of 2013 and there’s still a long way to go - in a recent (Q2 2012) survey of interactive marketing executives, Forrester found that just 13% of those surveyed reported the use of a DMP. That’s for many reasons, to be sure, not least of which is the long (and sometimes painful) process buyers go through to get all their colleagues on board and get the thing launched. And of course there’s the whole, "how do I justify the cost?" question (see above: I’m working on that). But I think the larger issue may be this: where does “DMP” start and stop? How does it fit in with, or replace, a marketer’s existing tools?  I'm tackling these questions in earnest this year - along with, “How does a marketer migrate a consumer from unknown to known, providing them relevant messaging at every step of their journey?” Stay tuned for more.
  • Make sense of mobile marketing. A lot of us in the display world have done a great job of either ignoring or writing off mobile marketing as “not our problem.” And in the meantime, we’ve got mobile vendors – networks, DSPs, rich media companies – coming out our ears. We all know there’s a “there” there. But we “traditional” digital types continue to struggle because it’s confusing, fragmented, overwhelming and, most critically, materially different than display advertising. So I resolve this year to stop complaining about mobile advertising and start making myself smarter about it – so I can wade through the nonsense and give marketers practical advice on when, where and how to capitalize on “the mobile opportunity.”
  • Understand TV buying. As with mobile, though for very different reasons, many of us in display have contentedly ignored the mammoth TV buying machine. But in the age of pervasively connected consumers, where a consistent, relevant brand experience is increasingly expected by consumers, we all need to understand each other’s worlds, within and across channels, or we’re dead. Our most sophisticated marketers tell us that the lines between “traditional” and “digital” are blurring or falling away in their organizations. Us digital natives should take a page from their playbook. So, I have a (perhaps lofty) goal this year to stop picking on TV buyers and start understanding them and their world. That way, I can criticize TV when it’s right to, and take lessons from TV when it’s right to.
  • Think global. I love the U.S. market, I get the U.S. market, I speak the language of the U.S. market. But is that the right thing, or is that just the easy thing? The obvious answer is, the latter: it’s the easy thing. Lean-forward marketers like P&G think, and increasingly, act on a global scale (just look at the work they’re doing with AudienceScience that pushes far beyond the US), and yet I still feel like much of the global market is a black hole of confusion for me.  By the end of this year, I want to be able to say, definitively, this is what’s happening with digital media buying, audience management and measuring on a global scale.

Clearly, I’m going to be busy this year so wish me luck (and don’t get mad if I don’t call you back)!

Follow Joanna O'Connell (@joannaoconnell), Forrester Research (@forrester) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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