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How the cloud can improve your marketing measurement
May 20, 2022
Cloud computing is part of a modern marketing tech stack, but what does it mean for marketing measurement? Acxiom’s Scot Richardson, head of data science strategy and visualization, discusses the key benefits of the cloud when it comes to attribution and what marketers need to consider.
I’m not a big fan of the word ‘measurement.’
Why? Because for some, it implies a one-and-done activity, and marketers too often see it that way – meaning they do measurement simply for measurement’s sake. The campaign is over, the results are analyzed, and the process grinds to a halt with the output from a report.
But measurement was never supposed to be the end goal. It was only ever supposed to be a calibration step in the wider process of optimization. Measurement should be about taking results and acting on them. That report should be used to guide better decisions and drive improvement. The whole process should empower brands to take wasted spend off the table, re-invest it in tactics that are working or in identifying new opportunities; ultimately, maximizing return on investment, all while campaigns are in-flight.
Now, from its new vantage point in the cloud, marketing measurement can finally fulfill its promise. There is an opportunity to put measurement at the center of an optimization process that allows marketers to continuously get better, faster, smarter throughout a campaign. The cloud can deliver on the promise of measurement through its combination of connectivity, speed, and scalability.
Cloud connectivity makes optimization simpler
One of the biggest barriers to improvement is marketers not knowing what to do with the results of measurement, not knowing how to implement learnings. But connectivity across the cloud ecosystem makes it far easier to pass information right back into the platforms that are actually delivering the marketing signal. Connecting solutions that are already in the cloud is relatively simple, and allows a freer flow of data, in addition to making it easier to go back to market with new audiences and optimized marketing tactics.
We often talk about the democratization of data in the cloud, but this on its own doesn’t lead to better results. It must go hand-in-hand with the democratization of the toolsets marketers need to put that data to work in the right way and drive optimization. With these toolsets accessible in the cloud, businesses can choose appropriate and familiar solutions, with pre-built integrations, to help their end users gain access to data, generate insight, and take action.
The ability to build measurement and optimization processes around data and solutions that are already in the cloud lowers the barrier to marketing improvement. It also shortens the cycle for improvement through continuous optimization, setting businesses up with the capabilities they need to maximize performance and get the most out of every interaction throughout the customer journey.
Speed and agility are reinforced by reliability
The traditional campaign measurement cycle is slow to say the least. After the planning phase, creative development, and audience selection, campaigns are put in market and we wait. And we wait some more. After that long wait, during which no improvement is possible, the campaign results come in and a report is run. If any action is taken on the results of that report (and it’s a big if), learnings are only implemented weeks if not months after the fact.
The cloud totally changes this situation. It enables monitoring of in-market campaigns as fast as data is available which – with the sizable pipes of cloud infrastructure – is pretty darn fast. Marketers can access reporting and interactive visualization tools for real-time campaign measurement, and can optimize media against objective measures, across multiple channels. These solutions can be automated across the entire pipeline, so they become lights-out processes that deliver as fast as the data is cycling, and boost ROI while campaigns are running.
In addition, the cloud enables marketers to be far more agile and respond to continually changing environments. Imagine, for instance, a brand running a campaign in Google AdWords. With competitive bidders continually changing and evolving their own strategies, AdWords is a dynamic, living environment, and an approach that works today may be totally ineffective tomorrow. In the cloud, brands can understand what is working in the moment and course-correct in real time, ideally through automated processes, to make best use of spend.
And of course, this real-time measurement and optimization needs to be backed up with robust and reliable infrastructure. With cloud data centers all over the globe supporting multi-region solutions, it doesn’t matter if there is an issue at one center. With redundancy and a seamless failover environment, measurement and optimization processes can continue to run day and night, without interruption.
Infinite scalability combines with full flexibility
In the past, measurement was restrained by capacity issues, and the fear of pipelines failing because there wasn’t enough memory or the specified cluster wasn’t big enough.
But the cloud brings the ability to auto-scale as the data dictates, especially when adopting a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model. This includes scaling horizontally, to account for increases in the volume of data coming in, and vertically to layer in more resources to deal with that data and solves a multitude of problems. Always-on, expandable solutions take away the concern that there won’t be enough capacity to handle a problem, because there is always more available.
Along with scalability comes increased flexibility. In the cloud, it’s simple for marketers to start with one measurement use case and then simply add more, as and when they need them. This flexibility makes measurement more accessible and means marketers can get started at a relatively low cost, as they only pay for what they use.
This flexibility also extends to data sources, with marketers able to bring data from a huge variety of different places such as other cloud providers, websites, and API calls. They can also deliver the resulting insights – whether that’s a new bidding strategy or a next best offer – back to a wide range of platforms to drive action. The incredible flexibility enabled by cloud environments opens up endless opportunities for marketing measurement and optimization.
Moving measurement into the cloud
The cloud means marketing measurement is no longer a standalone activity and puts it right where it’s supposed to be – at the center of a wider optimization process and in close proximity to the marketing platforms that feed on its insights. By moving measurement to the cloud, marketers can better understand the impact of their campaigns in the moment. With performance optimization integrated in the pipelines, they can continually optimize their investment to achieve the best possible results.