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.