According to recent reports from Accenture and Gartner, 63% of CMOs plan to increase their innovation budgets in 2019, and one-third of companies plan to boost innovation spending by more than 50%.
Both add to the growth of worldwide spending on the technology and services that enable digital transformation, which is expected to approach $2 trillion by 2022.
That sounds like great progress, until you consider the executives Gartner surveyed agree “marketers’ innovation intent isn’t matched by their innovation capabilities.” In short, we’re spending exponentially more on MarTech to get only incrementally better at marketing.
And the gap is growing.
Why? Despite years of focus, we still can’t establish a user’s identity across an ever-increasing array of channels, devices and data sources.
What good is the escalation in MarTech if we don’t really know who we are marketing to? Virtually none. If we can’t establish user identity, we can’t reliably track their journey across channels and sites. And there’s no magic that IoT, BlockChain and AI can unfurl to overcome the deficiency.
Forrester recently concluded that understanding users across data sources will remain an obstacle as long as customer data remains locked in many disparate systems. When marketers can access data across sources, they can see new paths. For example, one big shoe manufacturer was able to see its customers weren’t 20-something men but women buying for their husbands and sons.
Mostly, though, we’re still like the growing digital commerce electronics company that struggles to identify what its consumers are doing just before landing on its website. Are they searching in Google and then commenting in Facebook? Are they using mobile checkout? What payment systems and banks are processing their transactions?
While the internet bulges with more data than ever, the walled gardens of FAANG keep users elusive. And they will stay that way until we can create a universal user ID system.
The user data provided by these platforms amounts to a pinhole vision; typically, small cohorts of users specific to channels rather than a 360-degree spectrum of behavior across digital, offline and real-world action. DSPs, CRMs and DMPs all provide value, but none deliver a unified user view in a cross-media, cross-channel, cross-device, online and offline arena.
Many third-party sources readily offer you a list, but it takes weeks to segment, join and optimize the data for user identity. By then, the prospect has vanished from the radar. That’s especially true for companies that have numerous distinct brands with offline presences. They can’t maximize consumer experiences or marketing, so they can’t gain a competitive edge from data.
What we need is a blockchain-based, universal user profile and journey data consortium to unify user profiles across online and offline data platforms, incorporating first- and third-party sources. Such a system could track user markers across new and existing IoT or device technologies, so user identity is consistent across sources and over time.
This can be done, even within the rising standards of privacy. As a marketing community, we need to come together to close the gap between intent and capability in marketing. There is no room for walled gardens when commerce depends on data synthesis, and the MarTech economy hinges on ROI that conspicuously eludes marketers.
True marketing innovation depends on accessing user identity reliably in real-time, so we can market as smartly as we plan and generate marketplace results. Until then, we’re wasting our money and time on the latest MarTech.