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It’s 2013. The era of Big Data.

“According to estimates from Facebook, the Internet generates one petabyte of new data about every two days,” while our brains store only 2.5 petabytes of data. Today, it’s apparent that technology is creating more data than our brains can possibly synthesize or act upon. As marketers, in order to understand an effective response to Big Data, we must first understand what it is. In 2012, Gartner updated its definition of Big Data to “high volume, high velocity and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision-making, insight discovery and process optimization.”

In 2011, Forrester predicted that it would be the year of the DMP, or the data management platform. Today, this technology has had some time to mature, bringing it to a fuller function and making it an absolute essential for today’s digital marketer. Rita Sallam, research vice president analyst at Gartner, argues that “in the face of accelerating business processes and a myriad of distractions, real-time operational intelligence systems are moving from nice-to-have to must-have for survival.”

I agree with Ms. Sallam. So here are the first three of 10 compelling reasons why I think you must have an audience management solution, otherwise known as a DMP.

Reason 1: Gain Greater Customer Insight

Science, not art, now rules marketing.

Marketing has been shifting from a soft discipline to a hard science. This science is driven by the latest technological advances that are actively converting the “guessing game” and the “go with your gut” instincts that marketers once relied on, into a science. Econsultancy notes that Luma Partners banker Terence Kawaja calls this process “the scientification of media.”

How are you currently gleaning audience insight? In research conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Winterberry Group, 78% of survey participants reported using their audience management solution for audience insights and research. Gone are the days of wholehearted reliance on customer surveys and data aggregators. Quirk’s Marketing Research Media reports that an audience management solution can “report customer experience more complexly and accurately than the customer themselves can on a survey.”

In addition, by utilizing this solution, the “Best Practices in Data Management” report notes that the tiniest amounts of data “can be leveraged to understand consumer profiles, preferences, behaviors, and predisposition to buy products … Data can be deployed to understand how to configure websites, offers, ad creative, messaging, and content to create personalized experiences.” For example, at Adobe, audience management is a key to our Adobe Marketing Cloud strategy. By aligning with rich analytics capabilities and the range of other data sources available, we help our customers develop a central set of audience segments that can be used for content creation and management, social marketing, and advertising use cases such as targeting and optimization.

Reason 2: Get the Birds Eye View

If you’re like the everyday, average marketer then it’s likely that you have the “tendency to take the short view of performance data” (see the “Best Practices” report). You might pay the most attention to metrics such as clicks and “actions.” Please understand that you’re not alone in this. In the era of overwhelmingly Big Data, shining the spotlight on the short range is common practice.

It does not have to be this way.

Digital analyst and futurist Brian Solis makes an interesting comparison with a journalist’s need to check the truth against a few sources in “the old days” versus what we face today: checking the truth against “millions of sources,” a veritable “avalanche of information.” The only possible way to do this is to employ technology to read and understand the messages that technology is delivering. He reasons, “If you’re a business, the takeaway is that sharing without analytics is essentially useless, that engagement is not as valuable as insight, and that seeing things in context is more important than being popular.”

The best way to see things in context is to employ an audience management solution to work on your team. The return on your investment will exceed your expectations. This solution can provide you with the bird’s eye view—or the big picture—through the analysis and creation of “powerful metrics, including lifetime value and customer loyalty” (see the “Best Practices” report).

Reason 3: Integrate Data and Break Down Silos

Are you uncertain about what to do with all of your first- and third- party data? An audience management solution can integrate it for you.

In today’s world, it is not uncommon for marketers to manage more than one user database. Information coming in from multiple sources can be overwhelming. For example, when a customer logs onto your mobile app, your online store, and/or your Facebook page, what customer information can you glean from all three sources? In this scenario, audience management solutions deliver integration for you “by bringing together complementary data assets to enable maximum impact across use cases.” The Data Management Platform: Foundation for Right-Time Customer Engagement report points out that the power of this solution is that it is able to “‘break down the silos’ that often cripple an organization’s ability to effectively capitalize on its own information assets.”

Neil Capel in Marketing Daily writes that “each user, regardless of where they access your brand, must be considered a single user.” How can this seemingly impossible goal be achieved? An audience management solution can help unify “your users’ identities” across multiple channels within your database. For example, Facebook information merges with website information, which merges with mobile app information and so on, until your users become people with faces, names, preferences, and traceable behaviors and patterns. Ultimately, this solution “makes important data available in a central location—and makes it actionable” (see the “Data Management Platform” whitepaper).

Stay Tuned for My Next Blog

Today I hope I have provided you with some compelling reasons to consider employing the power and possibility of an audience management solution in your future marketing strategies. For more on this topic, stay tuned for my next blog …

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