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 …