Why CMOs Need to Wrest Control of Data

In the previous piece in this series, I provided an overview of programmatic marketing. Now it’s time to dig beneath the surface and explain both why CMOs should embrace programmatic marketing as soon as possible and how they can prepare to take the plunge.

Programmatic marketing means understanding and using data to deliver personalized messages and offers to customers at exactly the right times. To do this properly, a CMO needs to develop a unified and actionable view of who their customers are, what they want, and how they want to be approached. The more data marketers control and plug into data management platforms, the more they learn about their customers and their conversion patterns. More knowledge of customer patterns, in turn, means more successful programmatic marketing and a greater ROI.

And yet in many companies, a CTO or general counsel will attempt to take ownership of customer data. If you’ve experienced this data grab, now is the time to push back. That information belongs to the CMO. Companies also need to prevent vendors who are not responsible for solving their data problems from owning their data. Vendors and other departments who need access to isolated pieces of data to do their jobs can be given access to data as it pertains to them, but the CMO should be in control of that process.

Once you’re in control of your data, there’s no time to wait around. With new forms of marketing and technology, it’s common for established brands to take a wait-and-see approach. And in some cases, it may make sense for a company to be judicious before shifting marketing dollars into the next big (unproven) thing. But a CMO’s role at a company is to innovate and push the envelope, opening up new markets and reaching more interested consumers. And these days technology is where investments in marketing should be made.

Think about how Amazon owned user-generated content and recommendations before social media was even invented. Jeff Bezos and his team were way ahead of a significant shift in digital consumer habits, and his company rose to the top of the Web 1.0 pile on the strength of their vision. This kind of “vision” is what today’s CMOs need, and programmatic marketing is an opportunity for them to articulate that vision and make a sustainable impact on their organizations.

Let’s say you’re in control of your data and are committed to being ahead of the pack on programmatic marketing. Now what? It’s important to remember that programmatic marketing doesn’t begin and end with display ads and real-time bidding. You need to set your data free, employing programmatic marketing across your entire digital operation.

An example from my own experience: When I was working for a global financial institution, my team was intrigued by the idea of collecting, analyzing, and segmenting customers who had visited multiple sites within the brand’s family. We wanted to deliver personalized Web units (essentially on-site ads) based on the customer’s browsing history across the various company sites. For instance, if we had known a customer had visited the credit card section of our corporate site, we could have instantaneously shown a credit card offer on the next internal page this visitor browsed. If the customer in question was a registered user, we also had the ability to customize the next newsletter. For example, if the user made it to the credit card section but failed to convert, the next newsletter could have been personalized with a credit card offer.

If you own your data and are committed to using it quickly, then you’ll want to stay tuned for the next article in the series, where we’ll discuss the concrete steps necessary for getting your programmatic marketing efforts off the ground.

Ben Plomion is director of marketing and partnerships at Chango, a search-retargeting company.

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