Online marketing is experiencing a time of unprecedented technological and consumer transformation. This is both exciting and daunting, regardless of the role you play in the consumer engagement continuum. Whether you are a CMO, an agency exec, a technology entrepreneur or a VC, the industry is proceeding at such a fervent pace that it can be difficult for companies to stop, immerse themselves in internal reflection and ensure they're laying brick for the road to longevity.
When I step back and analyze the state of digital marketing, I would have to label the current era as the age of "Connected Marketing." I define Connected Marketing as leveraging the hyperconnected consumer journey across a growing breadth of online and offline marketing channels in order to build better customer experiences, achieve higher profits and grow brand equity. As more and more consumers are connecting across a range of channels, it is imperative that marketers cohesively align their efforts across channels as well. More specifically, Connected Marketing requires technology solutions that work seamlessly to measure, deliver insights and optimize marketing across channels - without adding inefficiency or integration burdens on the marketer, and in such a way that integrates directly with management optimization systems. This will be the gateway to solving some of the biggest online marketing questions: am I spending the correct amount of dollars online? How can I deliver more relevant content to different audience segments online? What is the ideal allocation of my media dollars across channels? What adjustments should I make to my content, creative and media buying that will allow me to better achieve my goals?
On the Threshold
The truth is that we have swiftly reached the threshold of marketers' tolerance for the inefficiency and confusion wrought by the siloed organization of our sector. cmos have lived through the pain points and are now ready for the industry that serves them to step up in a meaningful way and get them past the growing pains.
VCs and tech entrepreneurs, take note - the message from brand marketers is loud and clear: we don't need any more point solutions in the marketplace. Integration of solutions is the new marketplace imperative for the future of the advertising business.
Most marketers are using a plethora of technologies to manage their online marketing, so measurement across channels is difficult. The average marketer or his or her agency might use one technology for paid search, perhaps a dsp or agency trading desk for display advertising and a different provider for Web analytics. It isn't that these technologies don't do what they purport to do - many are very good at what they do. The problem is that they don't easily play well together. The integration challenge brought about by these siloed technologies has given rise to still more technologies like tag management companies, data management platforms (dmps) and attribution technologies, which aim to connect all of a marketer's disparate cookies and data sources. These platforms do help make data more accessible in order to glean marketing insights, but this is not sufficient for the current measurement problem vexing our industry and is really just a stopgap measure to help marketers deal with disparate data sets as the marketplace rapidly evolves.
Don't get me wrong - online attribution, a hot topic of late, is a great first step toward centralizing measurement and understanding the real roi of your marketing efforts. Attribution measures consumers' media interactions across channels (including clicks and views), enabling a broader, more nuanced understanding of how different marketing channels interact and impact performance. In reality, though, attribution is a solution to a problem that shouldn't even exist. Our plethora of technologies can do many things - but without full user-based integration they fall short of helping marketers truly understand the intricacies and ultimate impact of their digital media plans. This is all about to change.
The Era of the Connected Marketing Stack
Marketers who don't have a centralized solution to manage and measure their online marketing efforts are likely spending their advertising dollars inefficiently, delivering customer messaging that's not nearly as relevant as it could be and missing out on new opportunities to be in front of their audiences at opportune moments. As consumer adoption of mobile and other connected devices grows, the need for solutions that connect the dots of a consumer's journey wherever it leads will become even more paramount.
Fortunately, technology consolidation is happening, and the era of the Connected Marketing "stack" has arrived. There is more emphasis on data and attribution, along with a greater understanding of the role measurement must play in marketing's future. Measurement is the connective tissue that will help marketers understand this new era and how best to engage the "always hyperconnected" consumer.