Digital transformation: what the hell does it really mean? Dataxu explains

There has been a dramatic change across various industries, with the common denominator being digital transformation. Advancements in technology means that many companies need to catch up, while other are already playing the field almost like a rookie. Where do you start when developing improvements that your clients, customers and employees will appreciate?

Dataxu’s vice president, Mike Shaw sees the start of the thread with data. He says it enables you to form a better understanding of marketers and the client’s target audiences. He explains: “Marketing professionals have access to such an immense amount of information that the sheer volume can cloud their strategy and make it difficult or daunting to use any data effectively, even at the tactical campaign level.

“To complicate matters even further, while more marketers than ever are aware that data — especially their first-party data — is extremely valuable, most continue to be highly protective of that data.”

In order for an ecosystem to survive and ultimately thrive, Shaw asserts that marketing professionals need to make the most of first party data by activating it.

The concept of data activation takes the value from consumer data through developmental insights and actioning them. It leads to many benefits for marketers and advertisers from extended audience reach to message and frequency control, and improved optimization.

However, this isn’t only limited to first-party data; it extends across first, second and third-party data, says Shaw. “By activating first-party data and applying it to their organizations’ marketing strategies, advertisers can gain the ability to fuel the type of digital transformation capable of driving dramatic marketing returns.”

Premium media boasts curated, brand-safe and influential environments are all becoming ever more protuberant in the digital media landscape.

Shaw clarifies: “A number of advertisers are already spending significant sums on direct-sourced buys on premium sites due to the close alignment of audience profiles with their target and guaranteed high-quality context for their ad placements.

“Increasingly, those advertisers and their agencies are leveraging innovative new approaches that combine the best of both worlds: real-time impression-level decisioning with premium guaranteed buys—for substantial gains in effectiveness and return on direct media investments.”

Businesses are frequently using the term digital transformation but what does it really mean? Shaw explains this with Dataxu’s latest client Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). The company and its partner agency, Digitas, needed to transform the way they identified and reach the right individuals, across devices, within their prospective target companies via an efficient and scalable solution.

“By using new technology solutions, HPE’s agency partner Digitas was able to execute tactics to reach target accounts across a variety of marketing channels. They retained full visibility into performance throughout the data activation process, media campaign execution, and results analysis—including full-funnel campaign reporting with detailed metrics on target account reach and subsequent account engagement. This transformative process has led to an innovative new approach to HPE’s marketing that they can leverage to drive future success for their business.”

By 2020, it is expected more than seven billion people, on at least 30 billion devices, will have created 44 zettabytes of data - rapidly leading to a world in which nearly every element of life will be data-driven. Shaw expresses that more advertisers than ever are aware that their first-party data is extremely valuable but are still quite protective of it, being slightly hesitant in use it to inform their advertising campaigns.

Shaw says: “Legacy systems or a reliance on cookie-based technologies lead to large gaps between existing and ideal advertising strategies, otherwise known as the "Activation Gap’ -- stands in the way of advertisers and their media buying agencies being able to truly orchestrate and optimize the ideal user experience for their audience.”

In order to close the activation gap and maximise the value of first-party data for advertising purposes, Shaw says marketers should follow four simple steps.

  • Enrich: Connect disparate data sources together and append additional, accurate attributes to the seed data set to enable a single, accurate, and nuanced view of the ideal customer. Then, link augmented customer profiles with all devices that can be connected back to that customer at the user level.
  • Amplify: Leverage the enriched, linked customer profiles to discover additional audiences that match the enriched ideal customer profile.
  • Execute: Syndicate data in different formats to a wide variety of activation and marketing execution platforms, such as a DSP.
  • Measure: Analyse data sets in a way that provides insights. These insights can then be used for better segmentation, audience curation, value measurement, and activation strategies.

But who should take the ultimate responsibility in digital transformation? The chief marketing officer? the chief technical officer? For a successful implementation, time and dedication across board (the agency, sponsorship, clients, technology partners etc). “Without that C-level buy-in,” Shaw explains. “Digital transformation becomes a project on the side that doesn’t impact meaningful change. Every organisation will have different sponsors who are right for the digital transformation initiatives, but there needs to be an understanding that, if done well, it will be disruptive to the business as usual approach.”

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