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The quest for the Holy Grail – a 360-degree view of the customer

Technology & Data

The quest for the Holy Grail – a 360-degree view of the customer


Marketers are battling to get a single view of the customer, to better understand the customer journey and how to be in the right place with the right message. But a number of roadblocks are hampering the quest for the marketing Holy Grail, writes Scott Glitz.

Scott Glitz newLong gone are the days when data could only work in silos. Clients are now asking the hard questions around the usage of data across adtech and martech, particularly on how they can use first-party and second-party data together. And that’s exactly what they should be doing.

I recently attended both the Salesforce global summit in Las Vegas as well as the Adobe Symposium here in Sydney to gain further insight and make better data and tech usage decisions.

Common themes emerged at both conferences, but the main topic of conversation was around a single view of the consumer across devices.

The key to achieving this Holy Grail of marketing is to bring together first-party and second-party data and help them speak the same language. That’s what data management platforms (DMP) are designed to do.

DMPs have given clients, agencies and publishers a newfound ability, a 360-degree cross-device view of the consumer. With the help of DMPs, we’re able to string together all digital touchpoints for a truly personalised experience regardless of device and base it all on consumer preference… sounds amazing, right?

What’s holding us back?

DMPs have now become a vital part of the tech stack and a data-first strategy. So why is it such a challenge to get access to first-party and second-party data?

I frequently have conversations with clients and the biggest publishers, and we’re not quite at the stage of getting access to CRM or putting the ‘for sale’ sign on publisher or client data.

Clients and agencies often struggle to get first-party data fully on-boarded into a DMP, which leaves site visitation data, which at its core, is fancy floodlights and nothing new.

In the case of second-party data, while some publishers are showing some mild interest, the vast majority have an extreme hesitation to get on board or, they over-value untested data.

Sorry guys, you can’t charge more for your data than you would a CPM on your site. Match rates alone bring down the value of data. Test first, then put the pricetag on it.

The value of data is a topic all on its own but for me it’s cost versus ROI equals proof of concept.

Publishers are trying to charge thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for data with no proof to back up the results it will drive. This is the main reason that data usage has not become a mainstream commercialised product.

Third-party data represents its own unique challenges, which I won’t touch on in this article.


First-party data challenges

For the majority of clients, first-party data is and will always be the core. From your owned data (which includes adtech and marketing tech data) you have the capability to understand your consumers and prospective consumers in a way you never could before.

This is a client’s most valuable asset, so why are clients not using it to its fullest extent? Ingestion of CRM data, for example, is always a challenge and there are many barriers to breakdown. Legal departments, IT departments, global restrictions are just a few of the obstacles to access the most powerful asset a client has.

From what speakers at the Salesforce Summit and the Adobe Symposium were saying, I can tell you that this is a global challenge. Everyone is talking about ingesting first-party data and matching data, but no one is doing it right.


Second-party data challenges

With first-party data presenting such a challenge, more clients and agencies are now pushing their publisher partners for second-party data, to gain insights and piece together the full view of the consumer.

While a few publishers are open to this discussion, there is a paralysing fear of giving away the keys to the kingdom. Publishers have built their foundation on products that do not compute with selling their data to be used outside their walls.

Slowly, some are coming on board but the fear of giving a peek behind the curtain is more than most publishers are willing to stomach. Adding to this general fear is the walled garden duopoly holding its data closer than ever. Why would any publisher jump on board knowing the two biggest games in town have made their stance clear that they will not sell their data outside of their platforms?

The most common question I get in these conversations is ‘what’s the value back to the publisher?’ Publishers are asking the wrong questions. There should be an increased focus on testing, visibility into all signals and transparent learnings and analytics to prove the value of the data and the partnership.

If the results and proof show that publisher data is essential to a client’s digital efforts, how is this not the best possible position for a publisher to be in? Publishers are in the business of building and maintaining relationships with agencies and clients. A data partnership creates the strongest of relationships, constructed for longevity.


Lack of data culture

The hurdles with using first- and second-party data aside, in Australia and globally there seems to be a lack of a data culture, which is vital to a data-first strategy.

Locally, when we look at adoption of DMPs across the industry, it’s staggering to know how many clients are using Adobe Audience Manager or the newly rebranded Salesforce DMP. At MEC, I often do tech audits across all categories and I know what tech brands are using within their stack.

We’re not far away from all tier one clients having a DMP solution and when all clients and agencies have the best data tools at their fingertips, what’s the USP, what’s the advantage?

The data is key obviously, but more important than the data within the DMP, are the people. The people need to understand what a DMP can do, and what it can’t do, and this will be what makes some brands more successful than others. This is why a data culture is crucial to success.

In the same way that the industry changed when digital ‘became a thing’, organisations need to fundamentally shift to not just promote a digital culture, but a culture of data. I consider myself incredibly lucky working at MEC because top to bottom, there is a belief that data should be at the core of the business model.


Relearn how we operate

The digital industry is always changing and a data-first mindset is simply the next needed shift from the current norm. While the tech isn’t perfect, it’s capable. Never before did we have the ability to understand and respond based on individual digital micro-moments. To get closer to the 360-view Holy Grail, as an industry, we need to promote a culture of data.

And to get there, we need to understand – from all levels – how to operate in a data-first approach. Clients need to understand their owned data and break down the barriers to use it to its fullest extent. This will give the best foundation and a fundamental edge over the competition.

From an agency perspective, it starts from the top down. All staff should have an understanding of data and the tech behind it.

For publishers, data is simply a new arrow in your quiver, but it’s the biggest one. I truly believe that the first publishers who get on board with data matching outside of their own systems will be best suited to move forward in this age of 21st Century digital.


Scott Glitz is data and tech director at MEC.


Image copyright: photooiasson / 123RF Stock Photo


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