Marketing Orchestration: Oasis Or Mirage?

victordavidsonData-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 Victor Davidson, US lead at DBi Consulting.

I’ve been hearing a lot about marketing orchestration lately, and based on the way people are using the terminology, I think it bears some clarification.

Orchestration is generally used to describe a strategy or platform that allows marketers to control (orchestrate) consumer touch points across both paid and owned channels. What is important to clarify is that orchestrating touch points is different than just buying media or executing a campaign across different channels.

Orchestration implies that the decision to place an ad or create an interaction is decided by the marketer, and it occurs in conjunction with all other marketing actions across the ecosystem on a one-to-one basis. Sending customers an email because they visited your site is not orchestration because it is likely happening independent of a paid strategy.

Likewise, using programmatic for paid media across digital channels in and of itself isn’t orchestration because you’re controlling the message but not the sequencing of that message relative to the rest of the buy.

By this definition, marketing orchestration is not a reality today, nor will it be for some time. Luma Partners called orchestration a key trend for 2016, which might lead a marketer to believe that orchestration is something available to them now, but that is unfortunately not the case.

The Technology Barrier

There are three barriers to true orchestration: technology, privacy and organizational structure. Technology and privacy are heavily intertwined as both are macro industry issues, while org structure is distinct for each company.

At the core of the technology challenge is the need for a single platform that allows a marketer to control multiple paid and owned channels. It is not a data management platform (DMP), nor is it a CRM system.

Salesforce will allow you to create email/website journeys and in some cases add paid social interactions, but this still lacks the scale that a marketer would need to make a meaningful impact to his or her business. Salesforce also doesn’t have the measurement capabilities to allow a marketer to holistically evaluate the success of paid media that happens outside its platform. This may change as Krux becomes more integrated, but I’d argue that without an ad server or demand-side platform (DSP), it would still be missing a core part of paid media execution.

Even Adobe, which has an email system (Campaign), a DSP (TubeMogul) and a DMP (Audience Manager), doesn’t yet have a single, unified platform that can allow a marketer to create both email and paid campaigns. Marketers can certainly take their CRM information and onboard it to a DMP to create audience pools, but almost universally that happens on a defined cadence, such as quarterly or monthly, and not in real time. Marketers also can’t easily move information about a digital campaign response from their ad server/DMP into a CRM system. This is exactly what a true marketing orchestration platform would do: bring together the DMP and CRM technologies.

The Privacy Barrier

Current regulation in the US prevents DMPs from bringing any form of PII into their platforms. I can onboard my CRM data at an audience level, but not at a one-to-one level. I don’t mean to diminish the power that DMP technology provides to marketers – being able to customize ad experiences based on previous online and offline behavior and then tailor a site experience based on response or engagement is a huge leap forward. But it still falls short of orchestration.

Orchestration requires a privacy standard by which a marketer could create a one-to-many link between a personal identifier (email), the two to three browsers they use and the one or two device IDs associated with that email. This would allow a marketer to store not only purchases associated with an email, but also all ad impressions and content engagement. Several industry groups are petitioning to reduce privacy standards, but even if this is successful, it will be several years before we have the necessary privacy environment for true orchestration.

The Organizational Structure Barrier

Most marketing organizations operate their organic marketing and paid marketing in two silos. A requirement for orchestration is ensuring that paid media planning includes consideration of email and organic social and that audience segments in a DMP are mapped against email response.

Currently, most marketing organizations are decentralized; there is a media lead and a CRM/email lead, both of whom report to a senior marketer. This allows for a lot of autonomy in paid strategy versus organic strategy, but this naturally creates silos between the two departments. For any true orchestration to happen, organizations need to bring these groups together and have execution-level people that understand how paid and owned work together.

While marketing orchestration is an admirable goal, the current limitations will prevent marketers from making this a reality in the next 12 months. Instead, marketers should focus on marketing coordination which is an interim step before orchestration. I’ll discuss that in an upcoming column.

Follow Victor Davidson (@vicyogi), Havas Media (@HavasMedia), Havas Group (@HavasGroup) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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