Commentary

Is Big Data Crushing The Cookie? Real-Time With Acxiom's Daniella Harkins

Is Big Data crushing the cookie, or is multichannel marketing? Is there even a difference?

Digital marketing service company Acxiom released a report this morning asserting that the future of marketing is cross-channel, one-to-one marketing at scale. In the report, the industry's attitude towards cookies is highlighted, and the general feeling is that the cookie can't keep up with all of the data needed for successful multichannel campaigns.

RTM Daily spoke with Daniella Harkins, director of digital strategy and support at Acxiom, to find out more about why a crumbling cookie matters to real-time marketers and programmatic traders, what the relationship is between cookies, Big Data and automation, and more.

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RTM Daily: What was discovered in the report that matters to real-time marketers (including programmatic traders)?

Daniella Harkins: I think the biggest item that should matter — and concern, frankly — the real-time marketers is the continued evidence around the third-party cookie "strain." As the digital media industry continues to move towards a person-based approach and advertisers focus on driving consistent messaging across channels, accuracy is going to be a key driver.

The accuracy challenges and cross-channel inabilities of the third-party cookie will be an inhibitor. The key is a diversified media — including programmatic — but also direct to publisher where there is more control over audience accuracy, persistency, etc.

RTMD: What was the most interesting/surprising find in the report on your end?

Harkins: The biggest finding that I’ve seen is the heavy lifting that is needed to synthesize, manage and make sense of all of this data. And, I guess it's most surprising to me that the industry didn’t initially understand how much of an effort it is to manage the massive amounts of data that exists. It is not easy, but when done correctly, advertisers can reap the rewards of an integrated media strategy informed by a wealth of online, offline, customer and prospect data.

RTMD: Why should marketers care about the data in the report?

Harkins: I haven’t heard a marketer today say, "I don’t have enough data." The challenge is that there is so much data available to them.

They should care about how to use this data to better inform their marketing strategies. It’s simple: The data-driven approach has worked in the direct marketing space. Now, the same approach needs to be adopted in the digital space so that the marketing is much more focused on the right people. Additionally, brand messages can be better controlled, acquisition efforts are focused on the most qualified audience, CRM marketing via display and mobile is now not a dream. 

Accurate, data-driven, one-to-one marketing at scale across channels and devices solves for the right person, right time, right place conundrum the market is plagued with. It is, after all, the holy grail of marketing.

RTMD: Would you say the fact that there's so much data available to marketers is the biggest reason the industry has turned/is turning to automation?

Harkins: I think that it’s a big reason, but not the only reason.

Understanding what is driving response or behavior is a challenge in the industry. Compounding this is the shortage of available analytic resources that exist in the marketplace. Automation helps address not just this, but the need to make decisions as close to real-time as possible, especially in the digital media space. Automation enables marketers to shift their percentage of time thinking about execution to performance improvement and marketing optimization. 

RTMD: Can Big Data do everything cookies can do and then some? If the cookie goes away, is its purpose replaced by Big Data and algorithms?

Harkins: I guess it depends on how you define Big Data. I don’t think that third-party cookies are completely going away anytime soon. But the industry as a whole is finding other ways to manage digital data. The complexity comes in [when answering] how you connect that data together for a single advertiser.

I see Big Data as an enabler for an advertiser to better targeting, better marketing, and most importantly better results, regardless of the means an advertiser uses to target. I think it's tying massive amounts of disparate data together (digital and non), in a privacy compliant way, that enables advertisers to have a holistic view of their customer or prospect, and then they can action off it. 

RTMD: Thanks for your time.

2 comments about "Is Big Data Crushing The Cookie? Real-Time With Acxiom's Daniella Harkins".
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  1. Christopher Brinkworth from Ensighten inc (acquired TagMan), October 29, 2013 at 4:47 p.m.

    Sounds like Acxiom should launch a DMP that doesn't rely on cookies (SIC).

  2. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, October 30, 2013 at 5:14 a.m.

    Re: "Automation enables marketers to shift their percentage of time thinking about execution to performance improvement and marketing optimization." +100: that's half the rationale for optimization in a nutshell. The other half is that good automation gives you real-time data, so your systems can respond better to shopper activity and give you increased uplift.

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