An Ever-Expanding Marketing Funnel Creates More Opportunities For Personalization

craigData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Craig Dempster, EVP, Agency Group Leader, Merkle.

With the celebrity sightings, gourmet food and entertainment and rosé wine flowing, it’s easy to understand why many see events like Cannes Lions as a boondoggle. But I find it to be an incredibly efficient way to do business: In three days you can have 20 in-person meetings that would take all year to get scheduled. Countless trips to far less desirable locales add up to more money, time and energy spent in the long run.

And the industry is catching on to this rationale. These days, if you consider yourself a modern marketing executive and you’re not in Cannes, you are falling behind the market. Reflecting on how radically our marketing and advertising ecosystem has been reshaped in the past five years, Cannes emerges as the perfect embodiment of what that revolution represents.

Obviously, the big brand advertisers and holding company agencies are out in full force, but suddenly the mar tech and ad tech communities have also begun arriving in masses as it becomes clear that more integrated strategies are the new mandate.

And the displays of grandeur become ever more grand with each passing year, as players raise the bar in competition for that ultimate “awe” factor. The traditional publishers, who are smartly reinventing their business models, now have some of the biggest yachts in Cannes. Newer social platforms like Snapchat put up large, secretive structures filled with hundreds of butterflies, populated with beautiful people and complete with swans swimming in the water behind the opulent venue. It’s so exclusive they won’t even allow you take a picture (take a moment to ponder the irony – it’s Snapchat). Of course, the major digital platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and AOL take over huge stretches of beach and entire hotels. The deal makers are now also in Cannes, trying to see if they can score the next agency-ad tech collaboration. It is truly the melting pot of our reshaped community.

Inspired by the Cannes Film Festival, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was founded in the 1950s as a way to recognize exceptional creative in brand communication – particularly advertising films. Ironically, during my week in Cannes, I would argue that the five most spoken words were data, analytics, technology, programmatic and content.

To me, it makes perfect sense. Customers now have journeys that cascade through the entire marketing funnel. And these journeys are enabled by competencies in those five categories. Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time talking about how that funnel is expanding. The mid-funnel, which was the historical sweet spot for CRM tactics, had expanded up the funnel with programmatic and people-based marketing, and down the funnel with personalization. But as reality has unfolded, the opportunity has permeated throughout the funnel. From awareness to consideration through conversion and even loyalty, the entire funnel is delivering the personalized customer journey using data, technology, analytics, programmatic and content as the enablers.merkle-071316-inline

Yes, creativity is the heartbeat that pumps life into the customer experiences that are at the center of a modern marketing campaign. But at Cannes Lions I was delighted to find a population of advertising professionals who understand that there are key enablers at work behind the scenes, putting all that boundless creativity in front of the right people at the right place and time. It is during invaluable events like this that we are exposed to the greatest minds, not only in creative, but across all disciplines of modern marketing. I love what Cannes has become and I can’t wait to go back next year and see how we as a market have evolved.

Follow Merkle (@MerkleCRM) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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