Mark Patterson
Oct 4, 2016

The CMO’s bucket challenge

GroupM's Mark Patterson takes a look at how the CIO and CMO can work together to deliver better customer experiences and drive brand growth.

Mark Patterson
Mark Patterson

In today’s age of digital marketing, the CMO and CIO are interdependent in managing customer data in pursuit of demand and growth. They have to be joined at the hip. It is now a necessity that the CIO cultivates the data that enables multiple stakeholders in the organisation—marketing, sales, media, research, PR and others—to work collaboratively and easily across functions. This is especially critical for Asia-Pacific CMOs. In a study by Accenture, CMO-CIO Alignment 2014, on the relationship between CIOs and CMOs in the region, 42 percent of CMOs felt that technology is siloed and too difficult to use to create cross-channel experiences.

As more data can be applied to segmentation and media targeting, it follows that the CIO must create a platform informed by, and deployed by, the CMO for the application of that data in the real world. Importantly, internal data symmetry across functions allows the enterprise to create external data advantage relative to competitors and media partners. By knowing something about a customer or even an ad impression that is not known by competitors or others in the marketing supply chain, the marketers enhance their own knowledge position and leverage relative to media partnerships and secures a strategic advantage relative to competitors.

While the value is obvious, executing against this opportunity is less obvious and requires prioritising. My colleague Rob Norman, GroupM’s global chief digital officer, coined an easy way to think about this, which is to put data into two buckets: 

  1. Data you own, typically about the customer you know.
  2. Data you rent, buy or accrue as the consequence of other actions, typically about the consumer you would like to know. 

The first bucket includes CRM and loyalty, direct transaction data (ex-factory or point of sale), site side analytics, e-mail and other databases, and is a part of the CIO’s territory. 

The second bucket covers the CMO’s focus on third-party data, community and campaign level information that can become appended to and conjoined with the first bucket. This multiplies the value of bucket one, allowing for the application of all the data to segmentation and media trading, which are the sources of growth. 

Data in the second bucket holds some limitations. Campaigns are episodic, and the value of their data trail is often ephemeral, especially as few constants are available and the data tends to be less clean than the CRM or transaction file. Additionally, campaign and cookie data degrade over time, more so over multiple matches. This third-party data is available to anyone, but for a price. Publisher data, including that from first-party giants like Google and Facebook, as well as the likes of Youku, Tudou, and Tencent in China, are potentially highly valuable, but typically allocated to the advantage of the seller rather than the buyer. 

The key is connecting data in bucket one to available data in bucket two. 

It's imperative to consider which parts of the marketing tech/ad tech cloud the enterprise should control. For too many organisations the marketing tech/ad tech stack is a minefield of acquired tools, with many individual components re-engineered to meet evolving needs without due care to their fit for purpose over time. Some companies, particularly those with high value and abundant first-party data, who are in direct control of end-user distribution, want to own everything. That is not a bad idea as long as you allocate resources to deal with the inevitable breakage in components.

For others, it’s all about the owned data (bucket one) and the enterprise DMP (data management platform) that secures, harmonises and organises that data and creates a safe environment for it to co-mingle with the contents of bucket two. Aligning the enterprise by all divisions, brands and geographies on the DMP is key to internal data symmetry. Having brands disconnected from categories and disconnected again from countries significantly reduces the potential of operating across the portfolio. 

The application of data is most refined and most developed when closest to the point of a binary or revenue event, like a sale. But this only scratches the surface of data-driven marketing. When so much of an advertising-accelerated economy depends on performance at the broadest as well as the narrowest points of the purchase funnel, data is a key ingredient of success. At those points, the broader attribution techniques developed by the agency community and specialists can actually be used to identify and price the most valuable third party data sets and apply them using programmatic and other methodologies. 

The complementary relationship between the CIO and CMO is ever clearer, as is the value of agencies that take data to market. Inevitably, we believe that media agencies play a crucial part in the supply chain. Consider the following: 

  • Who has the greatest exposure to multiple stack components in both similar and different categories?
  • Who can compare performance across category and geography?
  • Who can on-board new or replacement modules with speed and agility?
  • Who can take a horizontal view of the integration of the client DMP with digital asset management systems, a plethora of search, social and display bidders (often with their own DMPs), ad serving and campaign management platforms, social listening tools and the rest?
  • Who has the most real-world experience of applying systems and data to live markets? 

Agencies that see every media channel and all the campaign level data, and agencies that are attribution and allocation agnostic are best placed to serve marketers. The challenge for the CIO is to collect near-perfect data and simultaneously keep it safe while unlocking it for the CMO and agencies to apply. By doing this, the enterprise combines internal symmetry with external asymmetry. With support from the right agency partners who are exposed to all the tools, all the data, all the inventory, all the time, knowledge accrues and advantage is realised. Two buckets become one.

Mark Patterson is CEO of GroupM APAC and chairman of GroupM China

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