As Martech and Telcos Get Cozy, Marketers Offered a Preview of Data’s Future

By Sigvart Voss Eriksen, CEO of Tapad -- As the advertising industry last week descended upon New York for Advertising Week, brand safety remained top of mind during almost all the panel discussions. A plethora of safety issues were addressed and marketers banded together to stress the need for more transparency in advertising. This industry call to action is shaping the future of martech and how marketers assess and utilize data to create authentic consumer experiences with identity at the core of all campaigns. Changes in Apple’s cookie policy, tighter regulations in Europe and constant disruption to consumer media consumption habits all have brands and agencies eagerly exploring better strategies and data resources that can help them improve their accuracy, performance and effectiveness.

Despite the availability of large amounts of data, marketers find it challenging to create a holistic view of their ideal consumer. For example, in Southeast Asia, it’s difficult for telcos to understand consumer behavior. Consumers too regularly trade out SIM cards, leading mobile providers to create disjointed customer journeys. So, when confronted with fragmented mobile consumers, how do marketers make meaningful connections?

Most telcos have addressed these complications by merging with martech companies who can make sense of their data pool. This union has made telco’s rich first-party data assets much easier to use in a marketing capacity, and marketers are taking advantage through new targeting capabilities. Whether brands and agencies realize it now or not, what’s happening in telco marketing today is a clear indicator of the future of data and identity-driven marketing. This brings the CMO of the future much closer to a data scientist than the traditional well-connected media buyer who has risen through the ranks.

Traditionally, performance campaigns have been reliant on audience segments purchased from third-party data providers. Marketers deliver ads to a pre-defined audience and check their match rates after campaign completion. The trouble is these segments are static, allowing for very little adjustment or granularity. The convergence of telco and martech has changed this, enabling marketers to leverage machine learning to understand which audience is best for a campaign, and then use dynamic creative to match the best offer to the appropriate consumer.

Telcos have almost perfect insight into their customers, with access to data on payment habits, device types and billing cycles, all of which are incredibly valuable factors when constructing custom segments. However, to execute on that data beyond owned-and-operated channels, marketers need to follow consumers across all devices or applications. A provider may have millions of subscribers, but even if it owns 20 percent of the market, its owned-and-operated properties can only reach that 20 percent. Technology is crucial for replicating the audience on a larger scale, following up with consumers outside of the telco’s own apps and web properties.

Imagine a telco running an acquisition campaign focused on the new iPhone X. Apple’s latest is a very expensive device, meaning that consumers will pay for it differently based on their level of affluence. A broad offer based on one single financing option is not likely to convert segments of the audience that fall into different financial asset buckets. Instead, the telco marketer could use its rich data set to deliver three variations of the iPhone X offer with different levels of financing options, based on customer insights. The alignment of telcos and martech makes it easier to bring their CRM data online to build dynamic audience profiles and tailor the offers based on income and average revenue per user (ARPU).

Now, telcos enjoy a real advantage for creating dynamic audience segments thanks to their rich CRM files, but other marketing verticals should soon be able to follow this path as well. This strategy applies to automotive, for example, when thinking about all of the vehicle models and financing options that manufacturers can offer consumers. The vehicle type, financing option, even color selection can be determined by truly identifying a consumer through previous purchasing behaviors.

Travel represents yet another space where different price points appeal to different segments of consumers. Third-party data providers might be able to give marketers a “traveler” segment, but that is not a detailed indicator of who the consumer is. It doesn’t provide spending capacity, purchase intent or traveling preferences.

Travel consumers create a very complex path to purchase – similar to telco consumers, they search across multiple devices and access hundreds of touchpoints over an extended period of time before making a purchase. Marketers who leverage dynamic audience segments can deliver multiple offers across segments, ensuring matches of the right offer to the right consumer based on the identity-driven data they uncover. For example, higher-priced business class tickets reach consumers likely to purchase them, while less expensive fares are targeted towards those who are limited in what they can spend.

While rich data assets may not be readily available across all verticals, telco’s recent developments provide a clear view of where consumer identification is going across the landscape and how first-party data and CRM files can make all the difference. In the long-term, this will make marketing a more data-driven practice than it is today, a crucial advantage as brands look to rise above the noise in a fragmented, non-transparent and crowded media landscape.

(Originally posted on Huffington Post and AW360)