Ed. Note: The following is an unabridged version of an editorial that originally and proudly ran in the industry leading publication AdExchanger on May 7, 2015
Is Atlas Really Marketing to People?
If I’ve learned one thing from my 20 years in marketing, it’s that the expectation that brands have when marketing to people is they will be able to close the loop with measurement and attribution. Only in the world of advertising would it be acceptable to have anonymous results. Let there be no doubt: Advertising’s essential role is prospecting to the unknown. Meanwhile, the role of the marketer is changing: In today’s environment, the marketer needs to push known data into systems purposely designed to keep them from closing the loop (Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, etc). It’s a frustrating battle, and one I predict will soon be resolved as a result of competition between the tech titans.
It’s clear what Atlas did is impressive and ground-breaking, but Atlas is a two-legged stool. Atlas taps into Facebook’s network of logged-in users and lets you target users cross-channel and cross-device wherever Atlas is being used. However, our understanding is that once Facebook gets the brands’ first-party (CRM) data, that data isn’t passed back to the marketers. This means that marketers can’t realize their true goal: closing the loop on attribution, understanding customer lifetime value (CLTV), Engagement, Net Promoter Score, and ROI at the user level. Knowing in aggregate just isn’t good enough. . Marketing technology supports long-term outcomes, which puts closed loop measurement and attribution at the center.
Hence, Facebook isn’t offering people-based marketing, it’s offering people-based advertising, a significant distinction.
Who Has It Backwards Now?
Call me dyslexic if you must (I am openly dyslexic) but in this case, I think it’s the rest of the industry that has it backwards! People-based advertising technology should be run by Marketers, not Advertisers. Advertiser’s goals are more transactional: impressions, click-throughs, frequency, etc. as opposed to focusing on customer lifetime value and success.
That doesn’t mean the metrics that advertisers sit on aren’t important to marketers. But they need to be connected back to what matters: building a relationship with the customer that leads to long-term success. Marketers need to be given technology that will empower them to communicate with known customers wherever they are spending time – email, web, mobile web, in-app, search, social, or video. Marketers of the future will need to go beyond email only and take back what’s theirs: the relationship with the known customer.
Hence, marketers should be in control of the CRM data that fuels Facebook Atlas and people-based products. Notice I did not say “people-based marketing products.”
Comprehensive People Based Marketing Does Not Exist…Yet
What Facebook has done is try to pass off their ability to offer more targeted advertising and call it marketing. This trend is endemic.
Two weeks ago, Marketo announced the launch of its Ad Bridge product. In coverage in AdExchanger, Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez said the ability to tie digital ads to lead nurturing is unique to Marketo.
Marketo is the first marketing cloud to be bold enough to incorporate advertising technology and they should get a lot of credit. They overcame adtechitis and integrated. It’s obvious there’s a convergence of Ad-Tech and Mar-Tech and Marketo showed decisiveness. However, to say Ad Bridge is unique is to misspeak. After all, LiveRamp and the Oracle ID Graph make it possible to onboard CRM data for lead-nurturing into almost any advertising technology. Salesforce Active Audience lets you onboard data into social (however, I predict that was an initial foray and their reputation suggests they’ll extend that capability soon). Lead Accelerator, formerly Bizo, allows for targeting anonymous prospects but Linkedin’s login data could easily be utilized, if it is not already, to develop people-based targeting. Criteo and AOL are investing heavily in acquiring the data needed to reach people across their platforms. And Google is rumored to be moving forward with search targeting using the email address. It’s worth speculating that Doubleclick Audience Center could enable first-party data to be used for people-based marketing within Doubleclick for the first time. So, what Marketo is doing is exciting, but it’s really not unique.
It’s also not what the promise of the future of the marketing cloud looks like fulfilled. Here’s what the ideal function of a full-service platform would do, as presented at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview in January by Luma Partners:
In an already complex ecosystem, combining Marketing Technology with Advertising Technology was a good first step. But we need this functionality built into a unified platform purposefully designed for marketers to market to known customers across email, web, mobile, apps, search, and social. Prioritizing channels that allow the marketer to close the data loop (real-time email, video, display, mobile, in-app) so that marketers can manage the relationship wherever the customer is paying attention is the dream. As of yet, no one has gone whole hog and built a technology for marketers that includes the advertising technology necessary to complete this.
The function of Marketing works best when it’s tasked with developing relationships with customers. While this involves overseeing advertising campaigns on a macro-level, marketing should not be involved in the nitty-gritty. The next evolution is a purpose-built solution that combines ad-tech with known customer data designed for marketers that’s operated by marketers. This open platform would also work with any point solution that functions as an open platform who provides anonymized exposure data on known users to close the loop for measurement and attribution purposes.
What’s the Hold Up?
There’s a reticence by Marketing Clouds to embrace ad-tech. Marketing Clouds want their tech to reach the same audience that has been developed by ad-tech vendors while maintaining focus on their mission. This means delegating Advertising and Prospecting as opposed to outright owning it.
That’s the plan for marketers but it can’t easily be done because no one has built (or strategically acquired) the right pieces to implement it. Today, a marketer needs to push known data into systems purposely designed to keep them from closing the loop. But, I predict we’ll soon see clouds integrate with platforms that will round-trip the data or see clouds integrate with third-parties that make it possible.
Let there be no doubt, a solution is coming to give the power back to marketers. The first step was to touch ad-tech. The next is to let Marketing Automation Software (MAS) go beyond rules and workflow to get drunk on the tech. I am confident the buzz that marketers will get will allow them to forget about adtechitis and the walled garden people-based advertising that Facebook tried to pawn off as marketing.