Consolidating Data Doesn't Mean Treating Every Piece The Same

Earlier this month, Charles Butler, the new CTO of Annalect -- Omnicom’s analytics and marketing technology division -- spoke about the company’s intent to consolidate various data management technologies and applications under one platform. The increasing investment across media conglomerates in proprietary technologies as well as mutually beneficial tech partnerships is commendable.  In fact, it is becoming a trend: Xasis also recently proclaimed it has invested $25 million in a data management platform.  Such efforts allow agencies to reclaim control over the data generated by paid and organic media, bolstering their ability to understand the full circle of communication between brands and consumers.

As a recent transplant from ad tech, Butler himself must be applauded for tackling head-on what has proven a major challenge for technology leaders on the agency side: that is, navigating the complex relationship between global leadership and local teams to build a centralized system for knowledge transfer. It will be interesting to watch how Butler and other CTOs in the business approach the creation of a centralized technology and communications structure that consolidates resources across media agencies.

As I’ve written before, such investments in technology and data are key, especially when it comes to programmatic.  The question, however, is how Butler and his CTO brethren are building their data management capabilities as we rapidly enter the cross-channel/mobile age.  Simply storing cookies for digital marketing will not suffice as consumers interact with media across a growing array of devices: smartphones, tablets, wearables, watches, connected cars -- you get the point. 

One nascent, but incredibly important data set in our multiscreen world is the recent explosion of geospatial information. Geospatial data is distinct from non-spatial data sources (CRM data, for example) in the way it is mined, harvested and activated programmatically -- as well as the way in which it interacts with other types of data.  Understanding customer behavior online is pretty much a solved problem, but understanding customer behavior offline, as consumers move about the real world, is an emerging area that marketers desperately want to understand.  Major companies including Verizon and SAP are going after this arena, which will undoubtedly become a massive market.    

As such, this is where it will be important for Omnicom to continue investing.  And hopefully, Annalect’s technologists and data scientists working as the true conduits of data-driven strategy within the Omnicom powerhouse will set a precedent for the rest of the industry by creating a centralized solution informed by both traditional digital and geospatial data.

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