Data is playing a much larger and more significant role in the entire-media buying process, and the need for analytics has never been greater. But analytics still remains a loaded term that has various meanings for various people. Forward-thinking CMOs are constantly looking for more-efficient ways to reach audiences in a media landscape that has become increasingly fragmented. To keep up, chief marketers must become data-disciplined in how they spend ad dollars across all media channels.
How do they do so, and what tools will they need to be truly data-driven? First and foremost, they need speed. There is a convergence of technologies enabling marketers and agencies to ask and answer questions that have historically taken days, weeks and even months.
The first of these technologies is the data-management platform itself, which provides marketers and agency pros the ability to collect, model and deploy audiences directly into the path of their media. For example, someone searches for a hybrid car on your website, and you immediately personalize the site content as they navigate to other areas. And when they leave the site, you continue to message them with ads that are relevant to hybrid vehicles. This all happens within a matter of seconds.
The second is high-speed analytics and an enabling feature called fast hinting. As an example, consider listening to the radio and catching just a fragment of a song lyric: "don't let walls cave in." Insert that fragment into a modern search engine and within less than two seconds, you are provided with an array of choices -- one of which is the song in question, "Where's Your Head At?" by Basement Jaxx.
The same is true for CMOs who want to understand their audience and media. With fast hinting, marketers and agencies can attain more insight into which audiences are intersecting with their media, as well as the size of available opportunity in real-time. Data-driven CMOs have the luxury to play, iterate, learn and refine their conclusions through very fast and interactive analytics. In this world, the CMO is having a dialogue with data.
The third tool for CMOs is an integrated system, which changes what has traditionally been called actionable data into transactable data. In other words, the data-driven CMO has access to analytics that illustrate an opportunity and execute that opportunity across sites, exchanges and portals. Within minutes of discovering a new audience, you can activate that audience and serve them relevant ads wherever they happen to be on the internet. Fast equals instant action on knowledge.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to speed: the speed of the consumer experience, speed of results, speed of decisions, speed of iteration, speed of speculating and predicting, and the speed of learning quickly. Where Amazon embraced the concept of an "always on" infrastructure and Salesforce introduced the idea of "no software," data-driven CMOs need to adopt the notion of "no waiting." When resources are properly applied to bring speed to customers, a transformative effect will follow.