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.