Part I: Explor­ing the Advan­tages of Cen­tral­ized Audi­ence Management

If you are attempt­ing to man­age data from mul­ti­ple sources includ­ing online, offline, and first-, second-, and third-party data, you’re not alone. Accord­ing to For­rester Research, today’s inter­ac­tive mar­keters need “a cen­tral­ized intel­li­gence engine” (or CIE) that “allows for a uni­fied view of the cus­tomer, regard­less of chan­nel.” (Although this metaphor may bring to mind some of the CIA’s unflat­ter­ing activ­i­ties in the world, please dis­miss those. Instead, when you hear CIE, think data and intel­li­gence man­age­ment.) Today in the world of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, a CIE has been cre­ated in the form of a data man­age­ment plat­form (DMP). For­rester defines a DMP as “a uni­fied tech­nol­ogy plat­form that intakes dis­parate first-, second-, and third-party data sets, pro­vides nor­mal­iza­tion and seg­men­ta­tion on that data, and allows a user to push the result­ing seg­men­ta­tion into live inter­ac­tive chan­nel environments.”

With the use of a DMP, you can bet­ter coor­di­nate and uti­lize your data for the best return on your invest­ments. A DMP can strengthen your mar­ket­ing strate­gies by help­ing you to seg­ment your audi­ence for more effec­tive, tar­geted communications.

Under­stand­ing and Seg­ment­ing Your Audience

Do you under­stand your audi­ence? If you don’t, you should.

Nicholas Negro­ponte, author of Being Dig­i­tal and for­mer head of the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Technology’s Media Lab, pre­dicted that “the power of the indi­vid­ual” would “be huge in the dig­i­tal age.” As you know, every com­pany, from the low­est to the high­est pro­file, has an “audi­ence” com­prised of hun­dreds to thou­sands to mil­lions of indi­vid­u­als. These audi­ence mem­bers range from voyeuris­tic web browsers to cus­tomers who click “buy now.” With a bet­ter under­stand­ing of this audi­ence, you can cre­ate and con­vert browsers into cus­tomers. You can also group together new audi­ences accord­ing to their nat­ural tastes and pref­er­ences and cre­ate new mar­kets with new messages.

For­rester sug­gests that mar­keters “strug­gling with data frag­men­ta­tion, under­used data assets, and a hunger for more audi­ence insight” should con­sider invest­ing in a DMP. A DMP allows you to ana­lyze and nor­mal­ize your “dis­parate data sets in order to cre­ate rel­e­vant mes­sag­ing and fur­ther achieve your orga­ni­za­tional goals.” Through its cen­tral­ized sys­tem, a DMP gleans audi­ence insights by access­ing and “com­bin­ing dif­fer­ent data sets together to cre­ate unique, mean­ing­ful seg­ments that can be made action­able across dig­i­tal chan­nels like dis­play, on-site, and email.”

Today, DMPs are help­ing busi­nesses make sense of the infor­ma­tion com­ing from all avail­able sources such as Face­book, Twit­ter, web­sites, offline sources, and more.

Audi­ence Power in the Dig­i­tal Age

How should busi­nesses be think­ing about audi­ence or data man­age­ment today?

Joseph Turow in “How Should We Think About Audi­ence Power in the Dig­i­tal Age?” explains that our cur­rent com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies allow our audi­ences to “become the cap­tains” of their own atten­tion, focus­ing their inter­ests on what they care about. What are the impli­ca­tions for busi­nesses that want to respond to these “cap­tains”? How can you com­mand their atten­tion, direct­ing it toward your busi­ness, prod­uct, or event?

Since its incep­tion, seg­men­ta­tion has always served as the foun­da­tion of tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing. Because indi­vid­u­als have the power to fil­ter what they see today, you want to ensure that they don’t fil­ter you. For­rester notes that today, DMPs offer mar­keters “a chance to much more effec­tively roll out seg­ment– or audience-based mar­ket­ing pro­grams than ever before.”

Instead of becom­ing over­whelmed by the amount of data at your fin­ger­tips, you can learn to coor­di­nate and seg­ment it for effec­tive plan­ning and tar­geted communications.

From Frag­mented Data Silos to Coor­di­nated Intelligence

Unfor­tu­nately, frag­mented data silos are all too com­mon in today’s world. This means you’ve got infor­ma­tion com­ing in from online and offline sources. How do you tie them together into a cohe­sive under­stand­ing of what’s being said? How do you inter­pret and make sense out of the data?

Often, IT is the solu­tion, but few in-house IT depart­ments have the time to imple­ment the com­plex solu­tions required to solve this chal­lenge. This is where a DMP can help.

DMPs take the vast, grow­ing repos­i­to­ries of cus­tomer mar­ket­ing data (which are cur­rently frag­mented) and help you inter­pret, under­stand, and apply it to your mar­ket­ing strate­gies and cam­paigns. Once you under­stand what all your data sources are say­ing, you can plan appro­pri­ate action.

And when you act, your cus­tomers will actu­ally respond because you’ll be com­mu­ni­cat­ing a mes­sage they want to hear. You’ll be con­vert­ing browsers to buy­ers, cre­at­ing even more data to run through your DMP.