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5 ways marketers can overcome paralysis by complexity

While marketers face a complex world in 2021, Amobee’s Caity Noonan offers advice on how they can navigate that complexity by first putting their house in order in terms of privacy, identity, customer and prospect data and unified measurement solutions.

6 min read

Digital Technology

5 ways marketers can overcome paralysis by complexity

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We’ve witnessed a wide range of adtech trends accelerate this past year. But as marketers look ahead this year, those trends have not yet coalesced around a clear vision for the industry’s future.

In fact, when it comes to understanding how issues like privacy and identity, the management of customer and prospect data, the rise of connected TV as a mission-critical opportunity, and the worsening challenges around unified measurement resolve themselves, marketers are experiencing paralysis by complexity.

As such, let’s look at a pragmatic road map for marketers to navigate an increasingly complex environment by focusing on the strategic approach to each of these five key areas, and the assets they have in hand today.

Balancing personalization and privacy

The third-party cookie is crumbling and mobile device IDs will follow suit. We’re shifting from an opt-out model to an opt-in model that will test marketers’ ingenuity and ability to provide meaningful value exchanges that help them gain consumers’ trust. Beyond that, while marketers can’t predict the full, longer-term impact of newly proposed or recently passed privacy laws like the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act of 2020 (CPRA), they can look at California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and invest in new ways to capture first-party data and develop better strategies for deploying that data. At the same time, marketers should dig into the renewed interest in contextual targeting and make investments in dynamic creative solutions that leverage context as a tool for achieving relevance. Though ultimately data is the key, having a strategy to getting personalization right and investing in software that houses and makes sense of that data is critical.

Understand the role of a CDP

Last summer Gartner identified the rise of the customer data platform (CDP) as one of the four key trends that marketers need to prioritize and found that half of enterprise marketers who have deployed a CDP say it’s their primary CRM system. Yet there’s still a lot of confusion around CDPs. Anecdotally, many marketers still use the terms CDP and DMP (data management platform) interchangeably.

However, one of the primary differences is that a CDP houses personally identifiable information (PII) where a DMP does not, and for this reason, a CDP isn’t something brands should outsource. Whereas DMPs deal with advertising-related data (audience segmentation, modeling, extension), CDPs connect transactional data, loyalty data, product data and in-store data to drive customer lifetime value. For this reason, CDPs should be thought of as an internal vault for organizing all customer and prospect data, to ultimately be the source of truth for a 360-view of consumers. The underlying key to getting all of this data tied together seamlessly is the ability to identify a single customer across multiple channels, which brings us to identity resolution.

Investigate identity solutions

Based on Amobee’s voice of customer interviews this fall, identity resolution solutions will play a leading role in 2021 and beyond. But at present, there’s a lot more sizzle than steak. By building on graph-stacking strategies being put in place now, the industry most likely will see a federated system emerge with multiple identity solutions. In the meantime, marketers should task someone inside their organization to investigate emerging solutions and become a subject-matter expert who can lead experiments with various promising identity resolution solutions.

At the end of the day, I’m confident that marketers, their agencies and their technology partners will work flexibly across multiple identity graphs and solutions, as the industry moves toward a federated model, allowing for interoperability across the requisite identity spaces in a given media buy.

CTV is soaring, but are marketers ready to fly?

As of March 2020, Nielsen data showed that 76% of US homes had at least one connected device, and when quarantined living began, total hours spent with CTV devices was up 81% year over year. This sharp rise in OTT consumption and the acceleration of the streaming wars has been a boon to marketers seeking to connect with millennial cord cutters and cord nevers. But — especially in the chaos of the 2020 upfront — it has required investment leaders to do an intricate dance between the 70% to 80% of premium CTV and OTT inventory that is exclusively sold in direct, upfront or newfront reserved buys, and the remainders that are available in programmatic channels.

And with linear TV still being the most effective way to achieve cost-effective and meaningful reach against cable, satellite and broadcast audiences, the rise is CTV is anything but an “easy button.” The continued media fragmentation means marketers strive to effectively plan, buy and measure across all video channels to find their full audiences. To achieve this, marketers must find ways to complement their linear TV spend with the ideal mix of digital direct and programmatic CTV, online video and social inventory, and optimize the reach and frequency needed in each channel to deliver campaign KPIs and business outcomes. Only when they can unify these audiences to identify gaps and overalls, can they optimize performance across all media.

Unify to optimize

Further, bedeviling marketers in the platinum age of television are the profound measurement challenges that result from the broad range of new and existing streaming OTT and social media services. Be they part of one of the world’s largest media companies, or a stand-alone mobile app with explosive consumer growth, from a measurement perspective, most are still more fragmented walled gardens or “gated gardens” with permissioned access at best.

Here, marketers must leverage their combined buying power via their media agencies to continue to push these partners to enable unified measurement. To quote Tina Moffett, senior analyst at Forrester Research, “Marketers must embrace a unified approach — one that organizes the sprawling array of data sources about marketing campaigns and results into a coherent structure to reveal insights into optimizing performance.”

Conducting analysis across all TV and video shows that only when they do so can they get a meaningful view of deduplicated audience reach, frequency and performance across their most expensive and high-impact efforts. In other words, when we unify measurement, we can immediately see how to optimize performance.

Marketers are right to be excited about CTV. But, the value comes from first putting their house in order in terms of privacy, identity, customer & prospect data and unified measurement solutions.


Caity Noonan is vice president of product marketing at Amobee, an end-to-end advertising and portfolio management platform for brands, agencies and broadcasters. With a background in advertising technology, enterprise SAAS, mobile and digital marketing, Noonan is responsible for Amobee’s global go-to-market launch strategy, articulating technology differentiation and expanding operational efficiency. Her focus is on scaling technology products, with the goal of empowering marketers to integrate converged planning and buying solutions.