"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Kirk McDonald, president at PubMatic.
When it was first introduced to the American Association of Advertising Agencies in 1989, the term “integrated marketing” sounded like the quintessential buzzword, just vague enough to suggest that it could be a panacea and just flexible enough to allow anyone to apply to it whatever meaning one wanted.
In general, however, the term referred to a marketing program with a clear objective of making sure cross-channel messages and communications strategies are unified and centered on the customer, as if that wasn’t what all marketing was supposed to do, always.
For years we’ve put up with the ambitions of the term, willing to suspend our disbelief, as we all knew the technology limitations of actually managing marketing initiatives to this standard. Now, in 2014, we might finally have the right technologies to turn the promises of integrated marketing into a more practiced reality.
Marketing has always aspired to be personal, to ignite emotive response through advertising and to drive action. The tools of the trade have, however, taken a leap forward in the past few years, allowing us to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and in the right place. With such powerful ammunition for message delivery at our disposal, the efficiency of integrated strategies grows ever more vital to a marketer’s success.
Yet, integrated marketing in a programmatic world comes not only with new opportunity, it also brings new considerations for the marketers and publishers as the role of the solution provider and technology platform can be confusing and sometimes compromised if they are not clear about where their allegiances sit. If the goal is to find the best technology to improve your message delivery in an ecosystem that is increasingly reliant on software to improve the value of transactions and customer relationships, then the characteristics of the best-in-class providers becomes clear – quickly.
There are several characteristics I believe leading technology providers should exhibit. First, they should have a clear bias toward providing technology to enhance one party’s conversation and interaction with the other, without creating business interference in that exchange.
They should provide a full suite of solutions across all channels of digital content delivery, including video, mobile and display, because every publisher is having a conversation with audiences across these screens. Confining them to separate silos is antiquated and inefficient.
Technology providers should treat all digital advertising inventory in a holistic manner, since buyers are looking at the inventory based on its audience and contextual value anyway.
They should support auction-based (RTB) solutions, direct-purchased reserved solutions and forward-market upfront solutions on a single platform.
Finally, technology providers should have scale, in terms of access to audience, data and advertising spending, as well as the global infrastructure to support global partners and their long-term investment in their programmatic strategies.
I’ll admit that this could be read as yet another article about how the media world is changing and how we need to think and act differently. In a way, it is, but I hope that you can see through the noise and hear that while the tools are new, the fundamentals remain the same. Integrated marketing and selling strategies still have the same focus; it’s the changing tools and the solution providers that might be causing a momentary state of confusion.
Luckily, we are finally beginning to see clear leaders on the horizon. The good news is that they are no longer fighting for relevance. The leading companies are independent of their partners’ businesses and simply enable strategies and execution. These masters of industry are breaking down the artificial walls between mobile, desktop and video. They are putting control in the hands of humans – humans with better technology and smarter workflow. They’re enjoying the revitalization of publishing and the renaissance of the marketer.
These are all exciting things, and they promise an even more exciting future, bringing us closer to meeting the goal of integrated marketing: a seamless system that prioritizes the consumer experience and optimizes the value of the engagement for marketers and sellers.