Whether they realize it or not, every financial institution is now a data company. Data is the lifeblood of digital organizations — critical to understanding consumers so you can improve service, develop better products and, ultimately, increase revenues by selling more.
“Many organizations are working with their marketing agencies and vendors to figure out where they can gather data to get that understanding,” according to Ali Hanyaloglu, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Criteo, speaking during an webinar on trends in marketing technology.
This is why, within marketing, larger and ongoing investments into an institution’s martech stack have become increasingly important.
Together with Hanyaloglu, Nicole Perrin, Senior Analyst at eMarketer, addressed six martech issues centered on data, AI and automation that will loom large in 2019.
1. Marketing Tech Stacks Need Continual Updating
Perrin, citing research saysing that 63% of companies surveyed worldwide are working on some stage of martech implementation, and 19% feel they have completed a reboot. 15% more are “discussing” implementation, and only 3% are “doing nothing.”
Perrin cautioned that a martech stack is never truly finished. “There’s always a lot of work to be done, and it’s going to be a constant process, going forward… forever,” she explained. “You will always be evaluating and adding tools to better fit your needs.”
Research by Walker Sands Communications that Perrin cited found that many U.S. marketers update their stacks very frequently:
2. Data Becomes More Actionable
Marketers spend more and more time wrangling data so they can rely more heavily on it and do more with it.
Most financial institutions should be tapping three key streams:
- First-party data from their own database
- Second-party data from other institutions’ first-party data that is shared
- Third-party data purchased or acquired from external sources/suppliers.
Integrating all of that into a single database for maximum utility — building complete profiles of individual consumers — is a key foundation for future campaigns in the year to come. Increasingly this takes shape in a Customer Data Platform (CDP).
“Many teams lack the technical skills for this,” said Perrin, so typically they seek outside help. She noted that research by The Relevancy Group indicates that 50% of firms surveyed have engaged a CDP vendor and 32% plan to. A key function of CDPs is pouring data out of restrictive internal silos to get an enterprise-wide draw on data providing the unified customer view.
CDPs are the “new kid on the block,” according to Criteo’s Hanyaloglu, holding out the promise of a more-complete picture of the specific consumer that a marketer wants to pursue. They are not the same as the older, but still widely used Data Management Platform technology. A DMP typically contains broad and anonymous data on customer behavior from digital channels. DMPs tend to be used to turn third-party data into a proxy for first-party data.
Hanyaloglu said that the two data mechanisms — CDPs and DMPs — complement each other. “And over time there could be a merging of the two,” he added.
3. Programmatic Digital Ad Buying Expands
Over roughly eight years, programmatic advertising (the automated buying of digital media) has taken off. “83% of all digital spending is now programmatic,” said Perrin. “Programmatic is digital display spending” — for example, all Facebook advertising is purchased programmatically.
Programmatic has had its problems. Many marketers using it can’t identify specifically where their programmatic spending lands. In addition, figuring out costs and fees can be difficult.
Fraud has also been a significant problem, with ads placed on shoddy or inflammatory sites that have been made to appear like legitimate sites to the software, compromising brand safety.
“Marketers are feeling a great deal of pressure to deal with this because now digital advertising is starting to get real money,” said Hanyaloglu.
JPMorgan Chase changed its approach to programmatic buying in the wake of serious problems. The megabank’s programmatic digital ads had been appearing on around 400,000 websites every month, according to The New York Times,but the scope was narrowed substantially after bank ads began appearing in embarrassing places. The bank introduced a human element, to make sure sites being selected met the institution’s standards.
Similar experiences have encouraged institutions to explore “in-housing,” bringing all or some aspects of programmatic purchasing back into the organization. “But there’s still a lot of money flowing to places that people don’t understand,” said Perrin.
Perrin and Hanyaloglu spoke of several ad industry efforts to fight fraud. Among them are the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Ads.txt, Ads.cert, and OpenRTB initiatives.
What makes these issues even more important is that additional channels beyond visual digital display ads are going programmatic. Much video advertising on YouTube is programmatic, and streaming audio services Pandora and Spotify have both started programmatic marketplaces.
4. Thanks to AI, Even the Ads Become ‘Intelligent’
The distinction between current marketing technology and artificial intelligence has already begun to fade. “It won’t be mentioned in the future,” said Perrin.
“AI is penetrating everywhere now,” said Hanyaloglu. “In time, the advertising itself will be intelligent and ‘contextually aware’.” He explained that digital advertising built this way will see where it has appeared, and “understand” more about the consumer seeing it. The message and approach will adapt on the fly, leading to greater personalization of every message.
“The advertising will not just be able to predict what we need to buy next, but predict what we want to do next,” said Hanyaloglu. He believes that such technology will help marketers better target their budget dollars and, in time, devise new ways to message prospects and existing customers.
This helps explain why consumers will favor AI-guided marketing — it will help marketers deliver relevant messages. Consumers welcome advertising that relates, and loathe having their time and attention wasted with nonsequitors.
Perrin cited data by Forbes Insights showing three top applications of AI in business worldwide are all marketing-related.
5. The Burden of Data Compliance Gets Heavier
Privacy-oriented laws and regulations in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. — both at the federal and state level — “aren’t going away,” according to Perrin. Just think about all the high-profile data privacy issues swirling just around Facebook in the past year. Lawmakers are almost certainly going to start cracking down on digital marketers and what they do with people’s personal information.
Perrin advises marketers to take a hard look at the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). That’s the way everything is headed, so if you haven’t implemented these standards yet, you should probably get started.
“Marketers have to begin thinking about the type of data they are keeping, for how long, and why,” said Perrin.
AI and machine learning generate a great deal of data that marketers may not use immediately but want to hold onto for future use, she added, so marketers should address such questions.
6. Account-Based Marketing Buzz Turns Into Real ROI
Account Based Marketing (ABM) involves how marketers address business customers by focusing on a company rather than individuals — figuring out who is at that company, what all the roles are, how it all fits together, and how that information is used to nurture leads through the sales and marketing funnel. Taking this new approach could have huge implications for the way financial marketers think about- and target small businesses.
eMarketer cited a survey by Demand Gen that asked B2B marketers about new tactics, revealing that ABM nurturing was in the top three efforts:
ABM has been a bit of a buzzword up until now, but Perrin says results are now starting to look pretty good. A survey by six firms covered in the 2018 State of Pipeline Marketing found that 27.3% of ABM users found the technique effective, with another 65.6% finding it somewhat effective.
eMarketer’s analysts are convinced that B2B marketers use of technology is growing and will grow further.