How SapientNitro Connects The Marketing Ecosystem

ScottPetry SapientNitroAs SapientNitro’s VP of technology, Scott Petry oversees the Publicis-owned digital agency's tech solutions for clients like Coca-Cola and The Home Depot.

The agency, since its acquisition, sits as one of the key digital properties under the Publicis.Sapient umbrella (the others are Razorfish Global and DigitasLBi) – and it’s known for its technology build-outs. Clients go to SapientNitro for platforms that can support big, heavy marketing processes.

And it seems like those capabilities have gotten stronger still. Last week, during the Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City (where Petry spoke on a panel), Publicis.Sapient revealed it had bolstered its ecommerce capabilities with the acquisition of Expicient, characterized in the press release as an “omni-channel services firm with significant expertise in inventory and order management systems.”

Petry spoke with AdExchanger at the conference, prior to the acquisition announcement, about technologies that hook into the entire marketing ecosystem.

Publicis.Sapient declined further comment about the acquisition.

AdExchanger: Adobe made some announcements around hooking into wearables and devices associated with the Internet of Things.

SCOTT PETRY: People talk about responsive design all the time, even Adobe. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the Marketing Cloud. Responsive design is what you write on the front end and sits on top of the Marketing Cloud. So it’s great that it supports responsive design, but it’s the technique of the front-end developer that determines whether you create a good application or experience.

But the Marketing Cloud isn’t creating the experience, it’s enabling the experience. Adobe does an excellent job of putting the toolbox together.

What do you think of the current concepts around the Internet of Things?

Currently Internet of Things concepts work really well in isolated environments. One store outfitted completely with all the bells and whistles. Or one venue where you can own the environment. Right now it still feels very cumbersome, expensive and uncontrollable.

SapientNitro is strong in ecommerce – which is a hole in the Adobe Marketing Cloud. Is that a problem?

We aren’t just an ecommerce specialty place, though it is something we’re strong at. We see everybody wanting to engage in owning the overall experience that customers have with their brand. Adobe will come in and pitch Marketing Cloud, talk about how to manage the experience and do all the integrated things marketers talk about.

The place where you can’t solve that problem very easily is ecommerce. Each industry has different ecommerce platforms. We’ve come up with an architecture to integrate all of that where the ecommerce platform acts as a service layer to a frontend layer that’s managed by [the content management system] Adobe Experience Manager.

So you just hook the CMS into whatever ecommerce platform your clients prefer.

In a lot of cases, it’s an industry-specific transactional system. Adobe talks about partnerships with [ecommerce platforms] hybris and Elastic Path, and their experience-driven commerce architecture. We have a similar architecture to integrate those systems together.

How do you integrate them?

The main thing you want to do is keep the power of the Experience Manager, because it gives marketers the ability to control the customer experience. So if you put the ecommerce platform on top because it’s designed to carry high volume transactional connections, you break the ability for the Experience Manager to control the experience. So it becomes just a content management system.

On the other hand, if you put the Experience Manager on top, it’s not designed to handle the volume of transactions. So you have to create this bridge between them, where the experience is still controlled by the Experience Manager, but the transactional load hits the ecommerce system.

So consumers land on the bridge, which handles the load. Depending on what they need, you can point them toward either the Experience Manager or the ecommerce platform.

Right.

Is that a common build?

It’s a fairly new architecture. Our clients are very interested in the architecture when they hear about it. I don’t know if anybody else is pushing that solution.

What are your media capabilities?

It’s something we’re always working on. We do a fair amount of media buying and strategy, the integrated proposition of the overall connected ecosystem.

We call it “storyscaping.” Within that, there’s a system of touch points. That story system includes the owned touch points where you might get deeper engagement or a transactional purchase, but it also includes the outer ring of acquisition connections that bring people into the system.

That’s the way we start. And some of that outer ring is what you traditionally call media.

Do you do media execution as well?

We do some buying, but we do a lot of production and a lot of strategy. Buying and placing media is something we do only for some of our clients.

Under what circumstances would you be engaged to do the buying?

It depends on the client relationship. Some clients, especially smaller ones, don’t want five different agencies to manage their marketing. We fit well as a one-stop shop for them. But Coca-Cola has a huge Starcom relationship. They don’t need us to do their media. If they were going to replace Starcom, they wouldn’t come to us.

Speaking of Starcom, now that you’re in the Publicis family, will you guys partner closely?

It’s so new, we don’t have any good answers to that. We’re hopeful that it’ll help us in our overall client relationships.

Are you looking to build out your media-buying capabilities or are you happy with the status quo?

Oh, we’re looking to grow. We think the storyscaping approach that we use lends itself to an integrated way of thinking. More clients should want to integrate their overall connection management with Sapient, which should include the buying piece.

 

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