A DMP Boosts Nordstrom’s Business Transformation

While Nordstrom’s digital subsidiaries include Trunk Club, HauteLook, Nordstrom.com and NordstromRack.com, the retailer is trying to align around the concept of “one Nordstrom.”

Initially, each property had its own data stash, which kept Nordstrom from doing cross-device targeting and comprehensive attribution.

“We also didn’t have a good way to connect our online data to our brick-and-mortar data,” said Kindle Fell, senior product manager for advertising technology at Nordstrom, during Adobe Summit in Las Vegas last week. “We were marketing to email addresses and cookies, but we had no way of knowing we were marketing to people.”

Its main issue was underleveraged data. For instance, even if Nordstrom wanted to exclude segments, such as “employees,” from certain campaign activations, it wasn’t suppressing those lists properly.

To address these challenges, Nordstrom first needed better access to its own data.

“Our agency owned our data and impressions and we paid fees on it, but none of that data was actually coming back into our first-party impressions,” Fell said. “We knew there were some media markups we couldn’t see and a lot of inaccessible data, so even if we wanted to change our attribution model or KPIs, we couldn’t because that data didn’t exist.” 

So Nordstrom put a bunch of data management platforms (DMP) through an RFP process, eventually signing with Adobe Audience Manager around Q3 of last year.

Nordstrom also aligned its DMP around its programmatic ad strategy, so the onboarding process included a lot of education about what a DMP meant for marketing or digital sales roles within its organization.

“It’s on ongoing process, but the first area we went after was suppressing existing customers from acquisition efforts and figuring out that if someone converted recently, we should probably pull them out of our retargeting models,” Fell said. “We realized we have really good data, but needed it consolidated in one place.”

It also expanded DMP use around impression tracking. Nordstrom hoped to evolve its KPIs by pulling in more log-level data from its media agency to affect results.

This holiday season was the first time, for instance, the retailer was able to see who was shopping at both Nordstrom.com and Nordstrom Rack and target them appropriately.

Instead of gunning for proxy metrics like return on ad spend, Nordstrom was able to hit more tangible goals, like moving customers deeper down the sales funnel, or to actually acquire new customers. [Read more AdExchanger coverage about Nordstrom’s transformation.]

The next area of DMP development is improving measurement and attribution by connecting digital to offline.

Multitouch attribution modeling is a key priority because Nordstrom’s current structure – a seven-day back, last-click model – only takes into account Nordstrom.com conversion data. Over 65% of sales, however, still come from the brick-and-mortar business.

“We still do a lot of business via catalog and email,” Fell said, “but want to map that through to digital and in-store.”

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