On Real-Time Marketing
If you ask 10 Yankees fans how the team will do this season, you’ll get 10 different answers. It’s like that with real-time marketing, too. There’s no consensus or consistent definition – just a lot of opinions, doubletalk and bluster. Like any good fan, though, that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own two cents to share.
The thing is, some people’s two cents are worth more than others. When it comes to baseball, I’ll take Bill James’ word (even if he is a Red Sox fan) over the loudmouth down the bar any day. The same is true with real-time marketing. Lots of definitions are being bandied about, but where do they come from and which hold water?
The biggest issue I have with the discussion about real-time marketing is that most of the time it isn’t about marketing at all. Sure, people may talk about “creating real-time marketing cultures,” or “enabling real time audience engagement,” but when you look under the hood, all you see is paid advertising.
News Flash: all advertising is marketing, but not all marketing is advertising. Really, it isn’t.
No matter how many variations on the theme get played – mobile, video, in app, native etc. – it’s all still advertising. That’s not to say advertising isn't valuable. It is. People expect Jurickson Profar to be valuable but the Rangers aren’t going to build a team with nine guys just like him.
Marketers aren’t going to build serious campaigns with just one tool either. Now, it’s true that, for a variety of reasons, real-time started out in paid media. Real time bidding (RTB), data management platforms (DMPs) and demand side platforms (DSPs) removed the friction from the buying and selling; they brought data and insights to the process and made inventory available in fractions of a second. So far, so good. But...(see paragraph above).
There are so many marketing channels, paid & owned, that marketers have at their disposal. Their own websites, email, SMS, call centers, etc. are all marketing channels, but they aren’t advertising. They are owned channels and they can be optimized in real-time using the very same data that’s being used to optimize and deliver advertising.
It’s all a matter of perspective. If all you sell is hammers, then every problem is going to look an awful lot like a nail. That’s the case here, too. If what you sell is a platform for optimizing advertising in real-time, then real-time marketing must look an awful lot like advertising. It isn’t, because…(see two paragraphs above).
Real-time marketing should act as a digital marketing hub at the center of all marketing decisions. It’s like a manager watching the game, getting and sending signs to coaches and controlling the play. And by play I mean marketing, not just advertising.
As for this years Yankees, I’m predicting 100 wins.