How to make right-time targeting a reality across channels

14 December 2020

A diversifying DSP market in Europe makes customer data activation difficult.


How can marketers push segments to the channel of their choice, in a way that’s both meaningful to their customers and profitable for their company?

Here, we’ll explain how you can regain regularity and control over your data activation, whilst achieving unprecedented levels of accuracy across paid and owned channels.

We’ll explore how a deterministic approach to knowing your customers will drive your ad campaigns just as if they were a 1:1 channel like email.

This is the third in our series of customer data management articles, which relate to the key steps in getting the most from your biggest asset:

  • Identify more customers
  • Enrich profiles more accurately
  • Target effectively, anywhere, through stronger data activation.


Any-party personalization in practice

Consider the experience of Sonya, a representative customer. As an affluent, married mom and homeowner, Sonya needs a new car: she’s an existing Audi owner and has browsed online for new models, searching via price comparison websites and directly with brands she likes. She has also visited various different automotive dealerships, speaking to sales representatives about the best options for her.   

She’s certainly in the market for a new car, but with the exception of a follow-up email and a couple of calls after she registers her interest with Audi, most interactions with Sonya stop there.

But here’s what this example looks like when we activate Sonya’s 1st party data across paid channels: Display ads nudge her only at critical points during her journey through researching cars, using telling offline touchpoints such as dealership appointments via CRM data to dynamically adjust banner creatives, and exclude or include her in specific paid promotional campaigns on-the-fly.

This means the difference between Sonya’s apathy and even annoyance with Audi at the lack of recognition – and her active engagement with the brand. Over time, the meaningful nudges add up. Although Sonya wasn’t considering the newest Audi model, she decides to buy it anyway based on a convenient, consistent cross-channel experience which serves offers reflecting her level of loyalty, readiness to buy, and specific needs.


Serving acts, not ads

So the baseline of brilliant cross-channel targeting is to make sure brands bridge the gap between their ‘data in’ – primarily their 1st party data, enriched with reliable and deterministic 3rd party attributes – and their ‘data out’, through deep integrations throughout the ad and marketing ecosystem they’re operating in.

For all the consolidation and streamlining of data between customers and audience attributes, managing segmentation and organizing workflow and improving customer relationships, there is still a big blindspot in the reconciliation of these practices with the digital signals customers provide.

Instead of relying on antiquated ‘list pulls’, basic segmentation and campaigns, marketers can enjoy a win-win to deliver on what customers and audiences actually want next, by applying the precision of personalization merged with the scale of ad-serving.

There is usually a trade-off here, however: in a bid to be more relevant, brands hand over the control and ownership of their most prized resource – customer data – to media giants or solutions with black-box modeling. This means marketers lose the clarity, transparency, and grip on where exactly their message is going, who it is reaching – and what’s going on with their data behind the activation curtain.

Are your ads arriving to the right customers, based on their genuine intent and their unique ID? Often solutions take a homogenous and one-size-fits-all approach to DSP partnerships when there should really be a tailored approach based on different markets, with their own variegated ad landscapes, verticals, regulations, and customers.

What does it look like for brands to orchestrate their own data across the ad landscape?


Data onboarding – the power-grid for personalization

The primary principle for data activation is just as it is for profile enrichment – only target based on what you know.

They say that knowing what you don’t know is a consistent marker for intelligence. For growth, of course, it’s also important to push boundaries and experiment to improve customer acquisition – but marketers can make use of a single source of truth in their existing pool of customer data, by making sure their 1st party data onboarding translates into reliable, time-tested DSP partnerships within their focus markets.

For Europe, this is particularly important: building custom integrations and with complex data environments and access to local ad serving networks requires significant investment, including the need to wade through the EU regulatory spaghetti that is customer data protection – or the GDPR.

So to put your customer data to work properly, keep your checklist close:

  1. Know who you know, and who you don’t know: Always use 1st party data as a baseline for targeting, using a strong onboarding and ID resolution solution as a basis for qualifying, excluding and scaling customer profiles
  2. Keep control over your greatest asset: this means retaining full autonomy and transparency on how customer profiles are being used, rather than trading the ability to harvest deeper behavioral insights based on handing over control to media walled gardens
  3. General data protection needs a custom approach: Know the markets you want to reach, the partnerships you need to build, and the goals you want to reach for customer acquisition, so you can cross-check the connections of your activation solution