Tech-Stack Distraction: When Data-Driven Advances Set Back Marketers

Data-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 Samantha Cunliffe, head of client services, Australia-New Zealand, at DWA Media.

Nobody can deny that advancements in algorithms, processing power and audience verification are anything short of astounding. The level at which marketers can segment, dynamically reach and measure activity continues to grow – and grow.

Herein lies the problem: The capabilities of today’s advanced tech stacks and their never-ending layers of analysis can cause marketers to lose sight of the end goal.

The ad tech and mar tech spaces optimistically promise to save marketing dollars and resources by targeting only the desired audiences. But why are marketers targeting them?

When working with data, it’s critical to always come back to your marketing framework: What’s is our objective? Who is our audience? Why do we want to reach them? What’s our message? What does success look like?

If this sounds simplistic, it is. But it’s also shocking how often this vital connection is discarded when new tools and opportunities are brought into the mix.

Structure must come before innovation. Once marketers have clarity on purpose, they can smartly apply and leverage audience data, website data, campaign data, CRM data and contextual data to architect, analyze and optimize relevant user journeys that drive true business outcomes.

But when marketers neglect the core framework, the rest is just wheel-spinning.

The silos persist

No matter how much the marketing industry rails against silos, organizations still very much operate this way. And the siloed nature of marketing departments manifests itself in the technology stack.

Yes, the industry has made significant headway over the past few years. Some brands and agencies have managed to integrate multiple marketing units and their corresponding programs to deliver true brand-to-demand strategies. Slowly, these organizations are moving the needle toward closing – or at least talking about closing – the formidable marketing–sales divide.

But despite progress, silos still exist. And many of them aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

There are plenty of problems with silos. Perhaps the biggest is that oftentimes, the introduction of new data solutions further separates the marketing and sales channels rather than bringing them together. Each silo operates under a different vision and implements a different data solution. Before long, an organization is operating five different analytics tools, 14 demand-side platforms and four data providers – each running at around 15% of their capacity, with no way to deliver a single coherent campaign. Internal competition for the same audience occurs, as do performance disparities.

This isn’t how things should work. The tech stack can be the glue in executional excellence. However, an organization needs to come together first to drive success through a solution implementation. Unless marketers look beyond their silos, new tools can drive deeper wedges within the organization.

One-to-one conversations with nothing to say

Marketers are obsessed with creating one-to-one targeting strategies. It’s only natural, given that the tools surrounding them herald such potential. The problem? They’re still executing with a one-to-many messaging framework.

Data developments help make advertising more addressable and experiences more personal. The underlying systems help manage customer relationships over time. When done right, it’s magic. However, marketers often invest so much time in pinpointing the crème-de-la-crème prospect that they fail the next step once that prospect is reached. Opportunity lost.

As important as it is to have a framework in place, it is critical to think about a dynamic messaging strategy. Marketers have the capability to operate on a micro-level in terms of targeting; however, more often than not, they are serving content at a macro level. It’s generic. But the audiences are anything but generic when it comes to content consumption.

Marketers must be able to constantly serve the right content in front of ever-evolving consumers in the hope that they will engage across the ever-evolving set of technologies and channels that are meaningful to them. Marketers must invest in content strategies – before turning on their granular targeting strategies – if they want to encourage prospects to invest in them in return.

The promise of data and the advanced technology stack is boundless. Data and technology lay the foundation for better targeting, measurement and efficiency. However, marketers can’t lose sight of the end goal.

Marketers need to strip it back to basics – connected teams, connected campaigns, connected outcomes – before thinking about data. Only with the basics in place can a data-driven strategy have the opportunity to work its magic.

Follow DWA (@dwaTechMedia) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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