In a Digital World, Centralize Data, Scale and Adapt

Posted on by Richard H. Levey

Investment in digital continues to break records.  According to the IAB Internet Advertising Report for the full-year 2011, digital advertising revenues soared to an all-time high of $31 billion in 2011, a 22% increase over 2010’s full-year record.  Across the board, the report revealed, marketers are investing significantly:

  • Investments in mobile, the fastest growing of all categories, grew by 149%
  • Digital video grew 29% to $1.8 billion in 2011 revenue
  • Search revenues increased 27% to $14.8 billion in 2011
  • Display retargeting grew 15%

Yet as digital spend keeps rising, most marketers fail to take a holistic approach to managing their digital advertising efforts, which inevitably creates inefficiencies and redundancies.  In fact, less than one out of 10 of the marketers who responded to a CMO Council survey in May said they have a highly evolved digital marketing model with a proven and clear path of evolution.

Technologies should scale and adapt

Marketers tend to place a great deal of importance on scalability. For example, when they select a bid-management system for their paid search efforts, most marketers understand that the technology they choose will need to manage larger campaigns down the road. What marketers often overlook is a technology’s ability to adapt.

So, what should your brand do to make sure your marketing team takes a big-picture approach to managing your digital advertising efforts?

Don’t wait for the Holy Grail

Eventually, marketers will want every piece of data housed in a single location. They’ll keep that data clean, versatile and accurate, and it will fuel everything from local search to display to voice search to paid search to SEO. Someday, it may even power digital billboard advertising, neurological advertising or any other futuristic marketing application imaginable. We’re not there yet, but your team shouldn’t wait for the Holy Grail.

Marketing automation tools already help brands maintain unified, clean sets of data that can be shared through many channels. Huge strides continue to be made, particularly in SEO, local search and geo-targeting.

Some brands are already adopting marketing automation technologies that leverage one clean, unified data set to accomplish a lot with simple and drastically reduced workloads. Take location information, for example. Marketing automation technology can help brands empower hundreds or thousands of local dealers, agents, franchises and retail stores to simply and effectively run promotions and keep their location and contact information visible and accurate. The systems house data in one spot that can be easily and effectively updated, and they turn these updates over to website location pages, mobile pages, Google+ Local pages, Facebook pages, Bing Local pages, directories, ratings and review sites, to name just a few.

A unified data source can go a long way to ensure your customers have consistent branded experiences across all digital touch points. With the right automation technology, your brand can leverage adaptive models to enable quick testing and adoption of emerging marketing channels. As new applications arise, some of these tools will evolve right along with the industry, plugging marketers in quickly and effectively. The benefits are numerous and substantial.

Sharing Information: Tear down the silo walls

Day in and day out, digital marketing teams accomplish a lot, but all sorts of problems arise when each marketing team manages data in its own silo. Redundant information about store locations, products and countless other types of critical business information used in different channels turns into misinformation, and maintaining data accuracy and integrity takes four times as long when four different channel teams manage information independently.

It’s time to tear down the silos.  Start by finding people on each of your teams to be advocates for change, and leverage their enthusiasm to promote cross-channel collaboration throughout your organization.

As the silo walls begin to crumble, consider going further by encouraging:

  • Investment in technologies that evolve with consumer behavior and cater to emerging technologies and mobile platforms
  • Progress toward a single source of unified location, inventory, product and other critical data
  • Adoption of content management and distribution systems that save time while boosting accuracy and visibility
  • Cross-channel optimization and reporting to improve effectiveness and accountability

Laying the foundation for your brand’s digital roadmap

Today’s great performance and tomorrow’s growing success don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The more your team can unify efforts and technologies across marketing channels, the more effective the team can become and the more success your brand can achieve.

Jon Schepke (jschepke@simpartners.com) is president and founder of SIM Partners (www.SIMPartners.com).

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