With the explosion of online advertising and marketing technology in recent years, you might expect to see a dramatic increase in productivity. Programmatic media buying, DSPs and automated marketing platforms should make the marketer’s job much more efficient, right?
While these tools are helping serve more targeted ads to audiences in real time, marketers are also being faced with a whole new set of challenges due to the increasing fragmentation of technology platforms and disparate streams of data.
These inefficiencies are so significant that they threaten to eradicate the benefits of automation altogether. But all hope is not lost. There are a few simple steps that can help you protect your investment in marketing technology.
1. Choose the right tools
According to Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2016), there are well over 3,500 ad-tech companies currently in operation, up 87% from last year. And while they all promise more or less the same thing, they don’t all work the same way.
Among that overwhelming array of options, there are no single solutions out there to do everything, so marketers must piece together a stack that suits their needs. Most cloud-based solutions are rather specialized, so it’s critical to have a close look under the hood before selecting your partners.
In the end, you will lose time, efficiency and opportunity if you chose the wrong tool for your business strategy.
2. Traffic with reporting and optimization in mind
I would argue that the root cause of all evil in marketing data management is the trafficking of media within and across various platforms. What happens at the start of the data-driven marketing journey has tremendous consequences for downstream efficiency and operations. And if you put bad data in, you get bad decisions out.
I estimate that at least 30% of all digital media is set up inefficiently (e.g. tagging, trafficking or taxonomy) which means you are either wasting time trying to manually fix issues or making poor decisions based on the wrong data. Even worse, you may be losing potential clients.
Resolving this problem isn’t rocket science. It requires more upfront discipline, engaging with diverse stakeholders and employing simple best practices such as using consistent naming conventions and trafficking at the right level of granularity.
3. Lose the spreadsheet
Spreadsheets are a double-edged sword. They are easy to use and very easy to misuse. Plenty has been written on the danger of using spreadsheets as a reporting tool, yet most media agencies and marketing teams I have seen still do just that. I had one prospective client tell me they spend more than 40 hours per week on weekly digital reporting for a single market. How is this possible in the age of big data?
For agencies, this manual effort takes time away from campaign analysis, insights and optimizations. For clients, the cost in agency fees is staggering.
The solution is not mere automation, but also finding a platform that can manage diversity in data structure, business rules and inevitable anomalies that require hours of human intervention. With cleansed, normalized, and unified data at your fingertips, your people can focus on analytics, insights, and decision making.
Clients and agencies need to rethink digital data management and reporting and consider it part of their strategic technology investments. Thousands of technology options and masses of big data can make marketing more effective or simply more complicated depending on how you manage all the moving parts.