CMOs Should Watch “Revenge Of The Nerds” And “Real Genius”

Written by Todd L. Michaud
April 30th, 2013

Todd Michaud runs Power Thinking Media, and he lives and breathes social, mobile and big data. He spent nine years delivering technology platforms to more than 10,000 retail locations as VP of IT for Focus Brands (Carvel, Cinnabon, Auntie Annie’s, Schlotzsky’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Seattle’s Best Coffee) and director of retail technology for Dunkin’ Brands (Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin-Robbins).

The biggest challenge that is facing marketers in the next five to seven years is the quest to become relevant, which means that they need to become data geeks. In fact, it is crucial that they become bigger and better geeks than their IT counterparts. As the pendulum moves from art to science, many marketing leaders find themselves on a platform of skills that are no longer the keys to success.

Instead of IP addresses, they need to think about email segmentation. Instead of database clusters, they need live content marketing. Instead of disaster recovery, they need to wake up focused on integrated marketing across all digital channels. It’s as much science and math as configuring a new router, and that has many marketers nervous. And it should.

But as these marketers find their way into this new world of math and science (digital relevancy), they need to be careful to not cross the fine line between being relevant and being just plain creepy.

Facebook recently announced the ability for advertisers to target users for their ads based upon the purchases made in bricks-and-mortar stores. So marketers, you can now target women who purchase children’s cereal or people who are in the market to buy a new car. This new targeting was created as a result of Facebook’s partnership with Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon.

Acxiom makes headlines every few months when a story breaks about how much information it knows about every American. The book “The Filter Bubble – What The Internet Is Hiding From You” by Eli Pariser talks about how Acxiom, which has an average of 1,500 pieces of information for 96 percent of American households, knew more about 11 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attacks than the FBI, CIA and several other agencies combined. Outside of knowing what I purchase, it is likely that they know that I am right-handed and own a Great Dane (data they somehow manage to collect).

Although some of this may seem creepy on the surface, the need to be more relevant with consumers is absolutely real and extremely important to marketers. I believe it should be the No. 1 priority for brand marketers today. In order for their marketing messages to make it through the clutter that is everyone’s digital lives, marketers are dashing towards new technologies that allow them to build robust customer profiles that can be used to personalize their marketing messages.

Most marketers dream of getting to where they sent each customer a unique message. But most also have a short-term focus on creating segmentation engines that will at least let them put their customers in buckets. They are also looking for technologies such as advanced marketing automation systems that will automatically take actions in response to a change in their customers’ behavior (versus the traditional marketer-induced blast, I mean, “campaign.”)

When I speak with CMOs, I am often surprised that many are not aware of exactly how much data is available (for free and for a fee) for them to use in their digital marketing.


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