Everyone is scrambling to keep up with the constant proliferation and evolution of the digital audience platforms. These are any number of technologies connected to large publisher or aggregated audience environments that enable automated, targeted, personalized experiences to individuals (known and anonymous), utilizing insights from first- and/or third-party data. Digital marketing leaders, such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, are just a few of the platforms whose technologies enable data-driven marketing and addressability -- at previously untouchable scale. And exchanges, such as DoubleClick and RightMedia, that allow publishers to put their audience impressions out for auction, and advertisers can bid for impressions.
Addressability at scale, as afforded by these digital audience platforms, is the foremost opportunity for competitive advantage in today's environment of the "always-on consumer." It represents the ability for brands to deliver targeted and personalized experiences at the individual level, but at massive scale. This is enabled through the application of data and analytics within the platform.
Today, through a series of innovations and acquisitions, the audience platforms are not only growing and evolving organically, but expanding in ways that will allow them to reach beyond their native publisher environments and into the broader web. This is what will drive the hyper scaling of addressability. Examples are Google's acquisition of DoubleClick; Facebook's acquisition of Atlas; and Twitter's strategic purchase of MoPub – and all their ensuing expanded capabilities.
An example of the speed and scope of these advancements is Facebook, whose progress in just two years has turned the practice of digital audience targeting on its ear. Initial Facebook advertising capabilities limited marketers to display advertising that was served based on Facebook profile data. Then Facebook Exchange broadened the opportunity, allowing marketers to bid in real time for retargeting ads, based on anonymous web browsing activity.
With the rapid uptick in mobile usage, Facebook opened up the NewsFeed for targeting, which creates a more seamless cross-platform experience. The advent of Custom Audiences changed everything by allowing marketers to use identified customer data to reach a specific set of users on Facebook, using email address, phone number, and Facebook ID to define audiences.
Within the past year, Facebook expanded its Custom Audiences solution to allow a combination of both Facebook and first-party data to be used to create models that identify look-alikes based off an initial custom audience segment for individual-level targeting. And more recently, the network announced it would begin working with third-party data partners to create even more customized targeting solutions for marketers, which will both enhance the consumer experience and create greater outcomes for brands.
Just this year, with the release of Website Custom Audience Retargeting, experiences can be linked across device, so that individuals based on desktop or mobile website activity can be matched or resumed on Facebook across the mobile, tablet, or website applications. With 1.2 billion users who consume, engage, and share, the opportunity for scale is immeasurable.
Google has multiple addressable platforms, including the Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange and the AdWords search platform. There are several ways to use these two Google platforms together to enhance customer journey targeting and addressability. These currently include remarketing based on keyword criteria, site visitation, prior display view and in-market audience preferences (Googles measurement of intent to buy in the near future).
And, while Twitter may have been slower to move in addressability than Facebook and Google, it is making major strides.. In 2013, Twitter introduced keyword contextual targeting based on user tweet activity, as well as demographic segmentation. Then in 2014, it launched the Tailored Audiences program, which allows a handful of agencies, such as Merkle, to target prior site visitors, email lists and Twitter ID's with unique experiences and separate bids.
These are but a few of the countless audience platforms and capabilities that are available today, and new ones are literally popping up every day. Mastery is like whack-a-mole. There is no doubt that the future will reveal winners and losers in addressability at scale through the digital audience platforms, just like it has with every other marketing era, from the brand era of the 50's to the channel era of the 90's. Competencies in Identity management; audience management; consumer privacy and compliance; media and channel optimization; measurement and attribution; experience creation and design will be required to conquer the opportunity. And the "Platform Marketer" who masters them will obtain clear and sustainable competitive advantage. Will you be the Netflix or the Blockbuster of the addressability era?
About the Sponsor
Craig Dempster is Executive Vice President, CMO and Customer Experience Group Leader at Merkle. In this role, Craig is charged with developing the enterprise marketing strategy and overseeing the team that manages all of Merkle's marketing activities, encompassing demand generation, industry marketing, product marketing and marketing communications functions that include public relations, events and advertising. He also manages the customer experience group, a business unit comprised of digital media capabilities including social, search, display, email and mobile, as well as creative and communication services which encompass experience design, communications consulting, and direct/digital marketing studio and production.
Merkle, a technology enabled, data driven customer relationship marketing (CRM) firm, is the nation's largest privately-held agency. For more than 25 years, Fortune 1000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations have partnered with Merkle to maximize the value of their customer portfolios. By combining a complete range of marketing, technical, analytical and creative disciplines, Merkle works with clients to design, execute and evaluate connected CRM (cCRM) programs.