In March 2017, I had an opportunity to present on this topic to a large audience at the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas. I always knew that cross-channel activation was important for my clients but I was not aware of the buzz around it until we had to move to a larger room to accommodate over 600 attendees. Believe it or not, this session was in the top 10 most attended sessions of the Adobe Summit which made me think that a deep dive into Cross-channel activation would be appropriate to expand on three main takeaways from the session:
Read other posts from Multi-Solution Architect Blog Series.
In this post, we will concentrate on Part 1 – The meaning and value of cross-channel activation and address the others in the next two posts.
Marketers interpret and define cross-channel activation in many different ways. In my opinion, cross-channel activation is the ability to leverage data and content to create a consistent experience across every accessible channel, platform and device. Sounds straightforward, right?
To deliver consistent messaging or experience to the audience irrespective of the channels, we need a Digital Asset Manager (DAM) and a Data (Audience) Management Platform (DMP) that are integrated with our channel touch points. Using these platforms, businesses can ensure consistent messaging either through email, display ads, personalized ads, social media ads, etc. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are there yet.
For a moment, let’s imagine that with the advancements of APIs and dynamic creatives, a centralized DAM is possible. How about a centralized data hub? In reality, company politics and walled gardens make data sharing a bit more complex as marketing channel owners will struggle to agree on audience definitions. This is a difficult problem to solve and for good reasons:
• Channel Maturity: Not every digital channel develops at the same speed within an organization. For example, programmatic advertising can be a new venture for a company that has invested heavily in email marketing. In this case, the email marketing channel is well established but is operating in an isolated lane that is not necessarily compatible with the programmatic advertising agenda.
• Walled Gardens: aka Advertisers’ Worst Nightmare. Today’s biggest walled gardens such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple make it very difficult for advertisers to track and address their audiences consistently across such platforms which in return cripples cross-channel activation efforts. Your activity on any of these platforms lives within its walls and cannot be tied to the outside world.
• Data Privacy: As our technology advances we are still bound to data privacy rules that do not allow us to use 3rd party attributes, purchased from data providers, to backtrack and identify a physical person. This also means that you are not allowed to mix purchased 3rd party data with your own 1st party data. This could lead to identifying the person or household that these attributes belong to. We often refer to this as reverse-back engineering the data to identify the person. These privacy settings will limit the data that can be shared across channels and directly impacts the audience attributes.
Although these limitations might sound troubling, they are by no means a show stopper.
In my years of working with Fortune 500 clients, I recommended implementing cross-channel activation in phases where we start with two integrated channels and then expand to others. In most cases, the channels of choice are Email and Owned Media (particularly Website, Mobile Web and Mobile App). Launching a unified campaign on both of these channels unlocks great deal of value, to name a few:
• Sequential Targeting: Sequential Targeting, a term I refer to when the targeting strategy is based on decision trees while the interaction touch points span across multiple channels. For example, when launching a campaign to your loyal customers, you decide that the initial touch point to be email. The initial email’s success rate decides the forthcoming interaction touch points. The offer on the homepage hero banner will be different for an organic visitor and a visitor who originated from an email campaign. It is up to the marketer on how simple or complex the decision tree needs to be. It can extend to multiple levels with more creative messaging and ads.
• Customer Centric: Cross-channel empowers the marketer to concentrate on their loyal customers and successfully execute customer centric campaigns. Every marketer wants to analyze the 360 view of their customers to target them on every possible touch point. Loyal customers tend to be either frequent visitors of owned media channels or email engagers so that the union of these two gives the marketers a powerful platform to execute their campaign.
• Customer Look-a-likes: Look-a-like modeling is a great way to extend your customer reach. The idea is simple. Take the base audience from your list of best customers and find prospects who have similar attributes in common. The algorithm is actually much more complex but you get the gist of it. This allows you to profile prospects as they visit the owned media properties and personalize the experience of the high-quality prospects.
In the next post, we will discuss the details of integrating Adobe Campaign and Adobe Audience Manager. For anyone interested in revisiting the whole deck from the Summit Session, can access it here.