Mark Zuckerberg's biggest gift to the world—and to marketers—was the social graph. Visualizing networks of friends and shared interests turned Facebook into an indispensable part of consumers' lives. Used by over 1 billion people worldwide every day, it made personalized marketing at scale possible for the first time.
Brands, as well as the marketing industry as a whole, should be leveraging a graph of their own to manage their unique marketing supply chains—but they aren't. In an industry that spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually, effectively managing marketing supply chains can clean up a mess that prevents brands from achieving their full marketing potential.
Global industry embraced supply chain management decades ago. However, CMOs have yet to explore the concept that has yielded great benefits for their C-suite peers in the enterprise. Any given company's network of brands, brand families and internal teams, combined with the creative, media and analytics agencies they leverage, is unique and complex. When publishers and technology partners are factored into that mix, that supply chain becomes even more complex. There's no standardization of processes, reporting or even data management between any two partners, let alone across the entire network.
That's about to change as organizations begin to capture the data exhaust that brands have generated via their digital marketing investments and supply chains.
Sangeet Paul Choudary, an expert in economics, network effects and the digital transformation of business models, recently introduced the concept of the commercial graph. As he noted in the Harvard Business Review, commercial graphs "depict relationships between businesses, based on their actual interactions as they are captured digitally."
Mapping marketing supply chains as commercial graphs gives brands insight into where their time and money are being invested and where breakdowns that can cost millions of dollars occur. More importantly, as CMOs are finally given intelligent tools that allow them to aggregate, normalize and leverage their marketing data, they'll be able to detect, analyze and remedy inefficiencies across their commercial graph.
Companies that master marketing supply chain management will gain true financial transparency for the first time. On the service provider side, they'll discover duplicative scope that causes everything from major communication breakdowns to inefficiencies around ownership of specific job functions on a particular marketing initiative or program.
On the technology side, they'll create transparency in an industry riddled with black box mechanics and double dipping on fees. This will enable the recovery and reallocation of wasted investments and reallocate them to higher value initiatives. They'll also create supply chain efficiency by identifying the combinations of agencies, partners, vendors and publishers that are delivering ROI—and programmatically eliminating those that aren't.
Lastly, by controlling their unique commercial graphs, companies will begin to include customers as the end point of their initiatives, thereby opening the door to the holy grail of enterprise marketing across all verticals: one-to-one personalized marketing and customer lifetime value measurability.
Until companies master their marketing supply chains, investments will continue to be made within a messy ecosystem, wasting countless dollars that could be spent in far better ways. The scale is much larger than the $600 billion-plus companies will invest on behalf of their brands by 2017. When agency fees, technology fees, data costs and salaries are added to the equation, inefficiencies across the industry become a trillion-dollar global problem. According to a study by Foundation Capital, technology spend by CMOs will rise from $12 billion last year to $120 billion in 2025. This transformation led by technology, not more bodies, is what will allow marketers to capitalize on this massive opportunity.
At last, the data and software platforms needed to map out unique commercial graphs are available. The CMOs who take advantage of them will create a wealth of opportunity by optimizing not only individual marketing initiatives, but also their entire marketing supply chains. Doing so presents an untapped, once-in-an-industry opportunity, and arguably one more important than the optimization of manufacturers' production supply chains over the past few decades.
Since these marketing supply chains link directly to the end-customer experience, the insights gathered will transform the way organizations conduct business across all divisions of the enterprise both internally and externally. For a trillion-dollar marketing industry that can currently be summed up as a mess, it's cleaning time.
About the Author
Jason is CEO and co-founder at Unified. An early Salesforce.com employee, Jason's 15 years of enterprise software experience spans the marketing, SaaS, and financial services industries. As CEO, Jason oversees Unified's product, technology, operations and organizational strategy. His team has managed hundreds of millions of dollars of marketing investments for the world's largest brands. Working with brands, publishers and partners in the marketing community, Jason implements organization-changing technology solutions that deliver clear business results.
Unified delivers technology and services to connect marketing data sets and optimize investments across the customer journey. Unified's software empowers Fortune 500 companies and agencies to drive marketing success in the context of their business goals. The Unified Platform transforms fragmented marketing data into actionable intelligence and real-time activation. Unified has offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. For more information, visit www.Unified.com or follow @Unified on Twitter.