He recently discussed the world of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and its implications for audience buying with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: Does the world of digital, audience buying "fit" into CRM?
MM: It does. When I think about CRM, it's about driving human connection: "How can you truly connect with anonymous people online beyond a session - beyond the data that is collected when they are browsing or clicking on a display ad?" The thing we're always looking to do is move beyond individual visits and be able to understand what those individual visits are - in other words, looking at interesting ways of getting beyond the obvious. That is a lot of what one does in an attribution analysis - looking at all of that data with the end result in mind. And that is... what does the customer want?
If you think about CRM, traditionally, it's always been about the database, hyper‑segmentation and focusing on the value of the customer to the brand. Our view is very different. It's about looking at customers in terms of how they view you. Everything you do with regards to the content you give, the way you segment is not just about brand value, but it's also about customer value. It's all about being relevant.
CRM as a discipline is about looking at addressable information in the database - that unstructured digital data. In summary, it's about driving human connections and doing things differently to truly connect, and give value.
The good thing about Digitas is our heritage is CRM. We've been in the business for 32 years. When you look to the CRM market, customers that typically come to mind -Epsilon, Knowledge Base, etc. - a lot of these CRM providers look at it from a database, a technology, perspective. On the other end of the spectrum, you've got the agencies that are all about crafting programs - the Digitas’s of the world. So, you could argue that whether it's about the strategy or the technology, it's always going to be about data, managing relationships, being targeted, optimizing, driving results.
The difference with Digitas is the fact that we are all about the customer and truly understanding the latent drivers of behavior. By that I mean it's not about what they've done in the past, it's about what they're doing now and what they intend to do.
For us, it's about truly getting a handle about what customers want. Then doing something about it. By doing something about it, it's truly being multi‑channel.
So, everybody is talking about social -and social CRM. And, you have a lot of other people talking about big data. For me, it's about "smart data" that allows you to know something about someone that's important to them, and saying, "How do I become relevant to them in a timely manner." Whether it's mobile, social, direct marketing, or whether it's just individuals browsing online, Digitas does that very well.
What is top of mind right now with your customers?
What customers are demanding is self‑marketing. They want to be able to have some control in terms of what information they get. Self‑education. You can send somebody a very complicated direct mail piece, or directly to a website with a lot of information. But invariably, it needs to happen on their terms and in small bits and bytes. They can't digest all the information at once. For me, the essence is self‑marketing, self‑education. The general trend that I see is there's a level of skepticism. People are not as trusting because they always feel there's a catch. You need to be frank and say, "Hey, this is who we are, this is what we want to do for you, this is what we're asking of you." No hidden catches.
Is "real‑time" becoming more a part of what you do at a strategic level?
It’s the basis. I can give you the day‑in‑the‑life for me. I come in the morning, have tons of emails, voicemails, then meetings, and text messages. It's very hard for me to consume all of that information. When I want an answer, I want an answer immediately in that moment. That's where "real‑time" as a platform comes into play. It's critical. I've talked about customers and the need for immediacy and self‑control and self‑determination. Real‑time does that.
There are a lot of big analytic players out there that can deal with volumes of data to make complicated decisions very, very quickly. But it's evasive. A lot of our clients are asking about real‑time, and I see it as being a hot, hot topic in our industry right now.
What do you see coming down the road from marketers as they begin to leverage CRM and the digital tools that are out there?
A lot of brands who have programs in-market are finding that their programs are not working - especially a lot of companies that are involved in loyalty programs. And by that, I mean, the programs are working, they drive incremental results - just not driving the results as they used to in the past. I think that has to do with rethinking and redesigning programs a little differently in light of this era of mobile and social. It's truly about taking a step back and rethinking how they view their customers and what their customers want, and rethinking their current programs and redesigning it around mobile and social at the core.
When I speak to clients, it's about working with big data, data that they've never considered working with. It's about rethinking the segmentation scheme, the predictive modeling and the proficiency modeling around the customer. It's redesigning and retooling programs where mobile and social is core.
Thinking about real‑time analysis, being able to optimize in near real‑time - there's a convergence step happening. And it's largely being driven by customers who are expecting a lot more.
By John Ebbert