Bridging The Digital Divide – From Consumer Data To Consumer Engagement

Consumer behavior has been in constant flux since the beginning of the Internet, but perhaps more than ever before, consumers today are setting the pace for digital marketers with the rapid evolution in how they shop online, connect with friends, and engage with content and advertising. They are in a fluid state, flowing freely between channels and devices.

And for all the “big data” our industry analyzes on a daily basis, one would think that we’ve gotten pretty good at measuring, listening and responding to these changes in behavior and preference.

In this measurement-obsessed industry, we are also constantly evolving and measuring ourselves. Data is everywhere…And yet, amongst all our daily labors, we have to question whether our firms are evolving or “connecting the dots” quickly enough to meet the escalating “relevance mark” set by consumers.

A Massive Digital Divide Between Consumers & Marketers

On this point, results from just-completed research makes it abundantly clear that there is currently a massive “digital divide” between consumers engaging in real-time across channels, versus the digital marketing industry that is still largely siloed and not executing in real-time.

This landmark study, Bridging the Digital Divide, employed a three-tiered digital marketing framework designed to assess and benchmark current execution capabilities, as well as key challenges and priorities of senior decision makers at brand, agency and publishing firms.

The study presents an analysis of the input provided from close to 400 senior executives from February 20-March 11, 2012, and is a result of collaboration between PulsePoint, a global digital media technology company, The CMO Club, a CMO peer-to-peer network with over 800 members, and Digiday, a leading publisher with survey access to more than 22,000 publishing and agency decision makers.

Most Are Only Multi-Channel

Specifically, across all groups, the multi-channel approach to digital marketing is what best defines most firms’ current digital marketing capabilities (see chart 1), which is the lowest of the three progressively more challenging capabilities presented:

  • Multi-channel: Executing campaigns in two or more channels
  • Cross-channel: Applying lessons from one to other channels
  • Real-time Interactive Marketing: Executing real-time dynamic interactions across channels and programs


Further, it appears that this digital divide is due, in large part, to two key challenges observed in this research, namely:

  • Overwhelming complexity due to the plethora of “point solutions,” and
  • A lack of unified measurement.

The rest of this article will focus on the latter challenge and implications.

In Search Of Unified Measurement

Unified measurement is perceived as critical to advancing from multi-channel to cross-channel marketing, enabling the tracking of consumer journeys, proper attribution, and connected customer experiences. In this regard, the top five priorities given by marketers for improving their digital marketing capabilities deal with measurement issues.

Delving deeper reveals that unified measurement, in turn, largely consists of the following two related measurement domains, namely:

  • The Need for Unified Audience Views – Unified measurement to “connect the dots” and enable the measurement of audiences for content, no matter where that content is being consumed, would benefit both publishers who wish to “fully and fairly” monetize their content, as well as marketers and their agencies who wish to engage and validate targeted consumers at scale. Expanding the measurement framework to include assessments of total reach and the impact across paid, owned and earned media is also important to improving digital marketing practices.
  • Full-Funnel Thinking – Marketers need to plan, execute and measure from the perspective of targeting and tracking consumers throughout the funnel, which includes measuring and attributing results beyond the “last click.” This mind-set enables a broader, longer-term view of digital marketing programs, targeting methods, and brand engagements.

Finally, as an industry, we need to move from the current plethora of point solutions that, however effective in the short term, only add to the complexity and data overload that most digital marketing professionals are already feeling.

Get Back To The Consumers

It’s time to get back to the core of all this measurement — the consumers — and employ smart end-to-end solutions that provide value to both the buy and sell sides and enable real-time efficiencies.

This also means evolving from channel-data specialists to consumer-engagement specialists, informed with unified consumer views and employing relevant contact strategies based on connected interactive experiences.

My next article will focus on two key enablers that, in union, provide the basis to enhance digital marketing execution. We believe these two forces are reshaping the digital landscape and, over time, will enable the industry to consolidate and evolve towards more real-time adaptive markets — with real-time efficiencies and fair value discovery.

 Want to know how your priorities stack up? Download the full research results here.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Analytics & Marketing Column | Channel: Analytics


About The Author: is vice president of marketing and analytics for PulsePoint. With over 25 years experience in marketing, brand management, advertising, interactive marketing, research, analytics & predictive modeling, and business development, Karl is passionate about creating business value from focused discovery, predictive modeling, key insights, strategic implications, organizational alignment, and integrated execution.

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