Which is why whoever’s spearheading the effort needs to build what Ensighten CTO Josh Goodwin called “political capital” within their company.
The process of uploading CRM data into a digital marketing cloud, for example, can be difficult and take some time. So, rather than starting out with a complex project, Goodwin advises clients to take on a more manageable task at the beginning, like unifying their on-site analytics with their off-site advertising for quicker results early on.
“Doing [attribution] with first-party data makes it much, much easier to accomplish – it’s a project you can, two weeks into it, start showing some ROI,” Goodwin said. “Once you’ve done that, then you’ve built some of the political capital it takes to go to the various databases within your organization and ask them to do the important work of unifying the databases and getting them associated with users on your site.”
Ultimately, he said, the technology isn’t the hardest part. It’s “the management and the politics” that typically act as a roadblock, Goodwin said.
But Herman, a self-described evangelist for first-party data usage within Kimberly-Clark, begs to differ: It’s not productive to treat first-party data activation like it’s stressful and laborious or like it’s uncharted territory.
“The fact of the matter is that the deployment of first-party data has a proven ROI that’s, oh, about a half-century old,” Herman said. “If you strip all the digital varnish off this process, these are the principles of direct marketing that have proven themselves, and very successfully. What’s new and exciting is all of the technology that allows us to employ these assets across a multitude of channels [and to consistently measure ROI].”
Before getting buy-in, though, there’s the little matter of justifying the cost. Merging databases and forging ahead with a first-party data activation strategy isn’t cheap – and reach isn’t guaranteed.
“Everyone loves their own data, everyone thinks they have the very best, but there is only so much reach, especially for a CPG company, where we do have a pretty strong first-party consumer data asset, but that gets exhausted in terms of reach,” Herman said. “And then the question is, what next?”
Of course there are a number of different techniques to employ, like third-party data and lookalike modeling. But with each of those methods comes a “gradation of confidence,” Herman said.
“There is a ratio between confidence, accuracy and cost,” he said. “[But] as long as you’re thoughtful about what you can expect and what you’re willing to pay,” it’s possible to “defend the spend.”