Data and Disruption
To quote Seth Godin, “Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.” Attention is upstream to actions and transactions. Marketers lost the attention contest to Google and Facebook. The privacy pushback is giving them yet another opportunity to get back into the game. Let’s begin by taking a look at how the push for privacy threatens the status quo of marketing.
With the rise of digital, marketers today have an array of targeting tools to keep up with the omnichannel customer. These martech platforms have become feature-rich and are capable of providing personalisation to a degree that was not possible earlier. Every action of the customer across all engagement and transaction channels can now be captured, ingested into a database and then be used to provide a better journey for the customer at every stage of the interaction to push faster for the elusive next transaction. AI-ML can automate many aspects of the orchestration.
However, in this data-rich world, the trees are a barrier to understanding of the forest. The means are taking over and the ends are getting forgotten. The tyranny of the daily campaign and then analysing opens, clicks, installs, uninstalls is heightening complexity to unprecedented levels. Dashboards give a huge array of information making it almost impossible to understand what is important and what should the marketer do next. And when marketers are in doubt, the result is yet another broadcast campaign.
Now look at the situation from the customer’s angle. A flood of messages – emails, SMSes, push notifications, in-app messages, browser notifications, and of course the eerie retargeting on different based on our activity on the brand’s properties. It makes the customer feel they are being snooped on continuously – which is of course true. In the digital world, no action is secret or goes untracked. Everything we as customers do is stored in databases forever – all going to build our profiles, compare us with others like us, and then begin the game of persuasion for the next best action.
The backlash has already begun. Privacy has become the central theme across the operating systems that dominate our digital lives – Apple’s iOS and Android. Cookies are set to be banished, email trackers are being stopped, and a wall is being constructed between brands and consumers. Without first-party data and explicit permissions, personalised engagement will become almost impossible. This rapid change is creating a new world for advertisers (for acquisition of new customers) and marketers (for retention and growth of existing customers).
Martech tools complexity and digital data disruption are here to stay. In this new era, what will change and what will stay constant? What should marketers do? Is it possible to cut through the clutter and think from first principles? Before we answer these questions, let us take a look at some of the recent changes that will leave a lasting impact on adtech and martech.