Consumer behavior is in a state of constant flux with regard to digital media consumption patterns, expectations and purchase behaviors. This instability is creating major disruption for consumer brands attempting to acquire and build long-lasting customer relationships that outperform those of competitors.
Today's greatest opportunity for competitive advantage lies in the ability to achieve addressability at scale, which is enabled through the evolving digital audience platforms that are now at massive scale. An audience platform is a technology that enables automated, real-time delivery of targeted, personalized experiences to individuals (known and anonymous) at scale, utilizing first-party data.
To exploit the opportunity of AAS, marketers will need a core set of capabilities and enablers that we call Connected CRM. It will be necessary to integrate first-party data and analytics throughout the customer lifecycle, executing a seamless consumer experience across first- and third-party audience platforms, devices, and experience formats. The opportunity for efficiency and scale within the addressable audience platforms dwarfs that of the historical offline direct marketing opportunity. In my opinion, it is poised to generate 10 times the value for those companies willing to take first-mover advantage.
Addressability at Scale
Addressability at scale can most easily be defined as the opportunity to create competitive advantage through an ability to deliver targeted, personalized experiences to consumers. CCRM is all about using addressability to increase the targetability, relevance and measurement of marketing impressions and experiences across the customer lifecycle in both the online and offline channels and media.
Today's ever-expanding and highly dynamic platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, are enabling marketers to scale addressability to unprecedented levels, at record speed. This gives rise to a new breed of marketer who has the competencies to master and implement the integrated data management, technological and execution capabilities, and establish the operating model needed to leverage AAS. This Platform Marketer has a deep understanding of cCRM principles, as well as the knowledge and innovative forethought to thrive in the world of digital audience platforms. The Platform Marketer competencies are:
- Identity management
- Audience management
- Consumer privacy and compliance
- Media and channel optimization
- Measurement and attribution
- Experience design and creation
- Technology stack
These required talents are discussed in more detail in Merkle's 2014 Marketing Imperatives. But what lies at the heart of the evolving role of the Platform Marketer is the opportunity for AAS, which is really here…now. The macro trends of media and channel digitization, scaled social networks, and the mobility of the population are the prominent enablers of this drive toward individualized interactions. And as these trends continue to increase in scale, so will our capacity for addressability.
Looking back, the "AAS 1.0" addressable platform at scale was the United States Postal Service. There were many engagement tools offered by the USPS and the third-party providers that helped us optimize on the platform. Companies became (or hired) experts in using those tools to deploy analytics to leverage both first- and third-party data. Brands like Capital One, GEICO and DirecTV were actually executing Connected CRM strategies, just with a different framework than today's. The winners made marketing advancements like we had never seen before.
In reality, "AAS 2.0" has many parallels. We have seen the digital platforms scale, creating the addressability opportunity through search, video, display, and social media. They are providing us with different toolsets and targeting products that we can use to optimize on their platforms, such as Google's Google Display Network, the Bid Manager toolset, or the AdWords toolset, which offers addressable targeting products such as remarketing lists for search ads. For Facebook, targeting products include the Facebook Exchange and Custom Audiences, which can be optimized through a number of certified third-party partner toolsets. For Twitter, it's products like Tailored Audiences, Keyword Targeting, and TV conversation targeting, in which audiences can be purchased directly or through third-party partner toolsets. Thousands of companies are developing technologies and toolsets to optimize on these platforms.
There are many methods of addressable targeting, such as direct name and address match, real-time bidding in the exchanges, intent-based targeting through search platforms, or segment-based targeting coming from other social media companies. Most of these didn't even exist four years ago. The opportunity of addressability at scale in the digital audience platform is massive, and it's rapidly changing the marketer's ability to more efficiently and effectively manage the marketing funnel, from awareness to consideration and remarketing and, ultimately conversion. So, the crucial question is: who is going to take advantage of AAS 2.0? I believe there will be significant winners and losers. Which will you be?