Digital marketing must get to grips with data chaos

Digital marketing is at a crossroads. Brands, consumers and the marketing and advertising industry are seemingly on a collision course.

They share the same goal, namely, to engage with each other in the right place, at the right time and with the right message, but are approaching it in very different ways.

Marketing leaders want to understand, reach and convert digital consumers – in a way that works and makes the most of their budget. Consumers looking for products or services want personalised treatment and relevance, at any time, on any device and through any channel.

Linear purchase journeys are a thing of the past. Consumers interact directly with brands, or indirectly through performance channels, social media sites and others; generating clouds of search-, browsing-, context-, location-, purchase- and other data as they go.

Marketers are struggling to find their way through all this data and figure out which elements of their campaigns are successful and which are not. They don’t know where their potential customers are at any moment in time, or what they are doing there. They don’t know where a customer will be when they are ready to buy, and what the offer is that will convince them and secure the sale.

To help marketers understand these complexities, a plethora of digital advertising tools, technologies, platforms and solutions has sprung up. While each provider offers a valuable service, they may only shed light on a fraction of the total picture. Marketers assume that they have no choice but to base campaigns on partial customer profile data, disconnected behaviour and journey tracking, limited transactional data, isolated mobile app usage and social media data, among other things.

As a result, opportunities are being missed, advertising budgets are being diluted and revenues are being lost. No wonder CMOs leave their jobs faster than any other C-suite role.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

If you think about what marketers need most: a clear path to the consumer and the opportunity to present contextually relevant ads across multiple digital channels just when the consumer is ready to buy; then the next step is obvious. The industry requires integration, clarity and a far better use of data.

Let’s look at integration first. Imagine what could be achieved if all the disparate technologies – programmatic ad buying platforms and exchanges, performance marketing engines, retargeting, search optimisation and others - connected seamlessly across a single platform, sharing their capability, data and traffic. It would require a platform that is truly open, and can accommodate every business model, traffic source, format, device, channel, customer and supplier.

Such a platform could track and evaluate total consumer behaviour, combining multiple traffic sources into a single, clear picture that makes the most of all the data generated. It could be used to predict what individual consumers would be most likely to respond to, based on their past behaviour. Marketers would be able to better target consumers, measure the success of individual campaigns and adapt them accordingly.

At Tradedoubler we are building such a platform. It is backed by significant investment in software development and expertise and we are incredibly excited about its potential.

The first stage of our new technology solution, a business intelligence tool, ADAPT, is already available. ADAPT enables digital marketers to quickly access the live KPI-based data they need to make informed business decisions that can deliver more efficient ROI.

The use of advanced technology and expertise to deliver multi-source, results-focused and highly targeted performance-based marketing activity is the foundation of our new business strategy. We believe passionately that the walls between the various solutions, platforms and traffic sources need to come down, just as the boundaries between different devices and channels have already done.

As an industry we must get to grips with all the information we generate. Too much information causes us to make the wrong decisions. Or worse still, make no decisions at all. The trick lies in identifying and reacting to the right information at the right time. That way everybody wins.

Brands, consumers and the digital marketing and advertising landscape have a unique opportunity to come together to create something that is larger and better than the sum of its parts. There doesn’t have to be a crash when we meet.

Matthias Stadelmeyer is CEO of Tradedoubler.