Personalization Takes a Giant Leap Forward
By Chad Greenleaf & Matthew Bauman
As I flipped through Olympic TV coverage recently, I stumbled upon an interesting event in the equestrian competition known as dressage.
Dressage is one part of the overall equestrian sport designed to demonstrate mastery in several types of riding. I’ll be the first to admit dressage isn’t as exciting as Olympic basketball, gymnastics or even field hockey. However, dressage is unique among both equestrian and the broader Olympic competition for one reason: judging isn’t just based on how many points or goals the team scores, how many seconds a competitor takes to finish compared to others, how many pounds someone lifts, or how fast they run. Instead, dressage is also based on characteristics including grace, poise, and even relaxation of the competitor. Read more about it here and here. In other words, it’s about who the competitor is (in this case a horse and rider) rather than simply what that competitor does. I know that a person’s characteristics ultimately lead to actions and are a part of every sport, but in this competition they are explicitly scored on “who” as much as “what” is done.
I couldn’t help but compare dressage to today’s digital world. So often we are obsessed with actions: signups, purchases, clicks, views, downloads exits, returns, etc. Rightly so. But for many the web has to be about more than the “what.” For many companies doing business in a digital world, the “who” can be as or more important. For example, as a marketer launches a branding campaign the purpose isn’t often to drive immediate action but raise brand awareness in the minds of the audience. And the “who” of that audience becomes supremely important. Is this marketer reaching the right people not just driving the right actions? Or perhaps the marketer or publisher wants to personalize the message or content based on who that individual is not simply based on behavioral characteristics or actions.
One integration developed here at Adobe is quietly finding its place as a practical, yet powerful advancement in this realm of personalization – in the “who.” I’m referring to the new Test & Target/Adobe Audience Manager integration developed with help from Matthew Bauman, Nick Jordan, Larry Tucker and Chris Comstock here at Adobe. Customers leveraging this integration can harness Audience Manager data to customize user experience across digital platforms and assets. They can score and make decisions on dressage as it were, not just performance.
The best way to explain the power of this integration is to explain the value it brings. To do so, we will walk through a few examples, inspired by real world needs. Let’s say a marketing director at a media company is looking to drive fantasy baseball registrants for the upcoming season. The marketing department has determined that this “Fantasy Baseballer” persona might include target demographic information and would be a male between the ages of 18–49. This manager can use traits and audience data from Audience Manager including first, second, or third-party data to identify and target the persona. Traits used to build this persona could include third-party demographic information, coupled with activity on third-party sites to indicate that a user is interested in baseball, fantasy baseball or related sports. When this segment or persona is identified through Audience Manager on the media company’s homepage, the integration would inform Test&Target to update the Mbox in real time with a campaign or offer for Fantasy Baseballers. This could take the form of a fantasy baseball registration discount (call to action), or provide relevant fantasy content such as recent articles/videos highlighting the upcoming fantasy season (brand marketing). Viola! You have real-time, dynamic and automated personalization.
In another example, imagine that a travel company wants to run a campaign targeting business travelers who traverse the Los Angeles > New York route. Using Audience Manager, the company can leverage traits such as travel frequency, individual signals like search activity on third-party sites for travel or even include geo-specific information such as LA or NYC-based users. With that information, the marketer can build a NYC/LA Travel Warrior Persona and then customize offers or content on landing pages for this target customer. Going one step further, as this persona leaves the site and is served relevant banner ads on third-party sites, the travel company can further customize the banner creative to provide offers or other relevant content for the NYC/LA Travel Warrior. Thus the integration can also leverage the deep relevant Audience Manager data for display ad retargeting.
This personalization is now possible based on the extensive AAM data available to Test&Target through the integration. This integration produces relevant target personas or profiles that are powered by Audience Manager data and organized, segmented, and scored for data quality to avoid deterioration. Plus these personas or profiles can persist past the normal two week visitor expiration that exists today in Test&Target. For those familiar with Test & Target, think of this as an uber T&T profile. Using the available traits in AAM, users can build actionable segments at various levels of granularity to accomplish their goals and target the audiences they need.
The implementation is straightforward and in most cases takes few resources to implement. The integration leverages an API call from Audience Manager and is very lite weight and agile so that site visitors will not notice any load time impact. As mentioned previously, the integration is available in Flash, adding a powerful dimension with personalization of ad campaigns. Ultimately it represents one more way we can move beyond evaluating and providing digital options based simply on “what” anonymous visitors do to actually delivering relevant, personalized content driven by the “who” that defines your digital audience.