Salesforce Wants to Help Clients Buy Display Ads Using Their CRM Data

To Power The Ad-Buying Platform, The Company is Also Teaming up With Acxiom's Liveramp, Neustar And Viant

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Fictitious company Northern Trail Outfitters is using data from its existing Salesforce CRM account to reach a consumer target through an ad on the Huffpost mobile app.
Fictitious company Northern Trail Outfitters is using data from its existing Salesforce CRM account to reach a consumer target through an ad on the Huffpost mobile app.
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Salesforce said clients can now use their CRM data to buy display ads across devices, signaling lofty ambitions in a category it hasn't yet conquered -- ad-tech.

The marketing tech giant will announce its "Next Gen Marketing Cloud" Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing strategy to provide clients with a more integrated offering across its previously disparate sales, customer service and marketing businesses.

The most drastic change, which is the ad-targeting capability, will enable marketers to grab their CRM data from Salesforce. They can then use that data to inform ad buys. That data may include customer purchases, behavior and other information from the customer journey.

The Salesforce update will also include more integration between the company's separate businesses. Now customers with separate service and marketing accounts can see the same customer profile from both in one place, use that data to manage communication efforts across channels, and serve ads across websites and devices using the new ad-targeting platform, explained Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Previously, the marketing, sales and services clouds and capabilities weren't so aligned, and the company had only dabbled in media buying on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. To power the updated ad-buying platform, Salesforce is also teaming up with data analytics, measurement and ad-tech companies, including Acxiom's Liveramp, Neustar and Viant.

"The ad- and marketing-tech worlds used to be so separate, but they're really coming together based on customer identity, and we're able to know who someone is through email or website [behavior]," Mr. McCorkle said. "We see marketers thinking about customers across all lifestyles. And marketers focusing on what service interactions look like have coordination with the sales team. Our customers can orchestrate ad placements and buys based on the context of a customer journey."

For example, if a Salesforce service-cloud client sees that its customer tweets a complaint, the client, through the marketing cloud, can automatically adjust advertising targeting that client until the issue is resolved. An email marketer can also use customer information from its contact database to serve ads across devices with the goal of driving more email conversions.

Salesforce's new ad-buying component, which is informed by its clients' real customer data, moves away from relying on cookie data to inform display-ad targeting.

That means marketing tech giants like Salesforce could join the ranks of companies like Facebook and Google, which serve ads based largely on what they know about their massive user-base. The competition could get heated if Facebook and Google, which also help clients buy ads outside of their own platforms, offer brands the ability to use their CRM data to support those ad buys.