Guest blog: The internet vs marketing… are marketers playing a losing game? – Richard Foster, LiveRamp

Richard FosterThe rapid pace at which the internet has developed over the years has meant that the marketing industry is often struggling to keep up. Where the high-street retailers once drove buying trends, consumers have now gained control to dictate the market. At a time where it seems almost impossible to keep up with rapid innovations, is it fair to assume marketers are playing a losing game?

Often, things once considered ‘the next big thing’ end up consigned to the history books. As the internet and technology develops, traditional websites are rendered obsolete, with everyone quick to adopt the next novel trend.

We are now in a time where the consumer knows the most, more than marketers themselves. This once-impressionable customer base now has access to all the same information that marketers have, but on top of all of that, they also know their motivation and interests, and that drives their purchases.

The power is with the people

Millennials are the largest living generation, and they are hugely shaping how marketers interact with consumers. Today’s population has access to online shopping at their fingertips, and 22% of them primarily use their phone to do so. The purchasing power is quite literally in the hands of millennials. Their shopping habits are also different to the generations before them; only 7% of millennials identify themselves as brand loyalists, while 75% are influenced to shop during a retail sale or promotion.

In a consumer survey, 74% of millennials said they were frustrated with too many marketing communications, and 60% said they receive too many irrelevant ads. Unless marketers find a way to adapt and combat these issues, they will suffer, and risk being left in the internet’s shadow. Marketers will no doubt suffer; they will be doomed to repeat broken processes, waste money, miss opportunities, deliver inconsistent experiences and treat even their very best customers as if they’ve never met them before. Which isn’t what they set out to do.

It is very easy in this situation to assume that technology is a silver bullet solution to surviving these changes, but a business model must be strong before it can be digitalised. It is imperative that the customer journey is mapped right.

It is not too late for marketers to use technology wisely to enhance their organisation and map their business model to ensure they prosper through the inevitable digitalisation. Marketers have adapted to new technologies since day one so why can’t they embrace this new wave?

Channels as islands

The problem is, every single one of the channels marketers use to reach their audiences is its own little island. Each of these islands – whether mobile, social, banner ads, native advertising or email – has dozens of third party partners who can help them reach people. Each of these has its own platform to automate engagements, and each with its own way of identifying people and devices. And you guessed it, each is speaking its own language.

This issue is what caused marketers to fall behind. Today’s marketing ecosystem is an exploded universe of channels, partners, platforms, data sources, APIs, and integrations. This leads to the biggest problem. Because of this complexity, marketers are limited by how much they can impact the customer experience: they can’t simply take what they know about their customers and prospects and apply it everywhere they see fit, as they run the risk of diluting their message, or disengaging their target audience through generic or irrelevant content.

A person we recognise in our store as a left-handed, horse-riding smoker gets the same messages as any other person when they see ads in print, or online on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet. This means inconsistent, uninformed, wasteful marketing – leading to consumers who think Marketers are clueless, or foolish, or both (they’re not. They’ve just been rendered blind).

We desperately need someone to come along and resolve identities back to real people across the marketing ecosystem in order for marketers to step out of the internet’s shadow.

This ability to resolve identities just may be the most important part of every marketer’s technology stack. And it just might be the only way over the wall that stands between all of the smart marketers out there and the kind of marketing they know they can deliver.

Richard Foster, UK managing director, LiveRamp

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