That we are living in the digital age cannot be refuted. The evidence is overwhelming; if Facebook were a country, it would already be the third most populous and mobile phones are on track to outnumber the human race by the end of 2012. The impact of this age on the human race is manifest; as a species we have never before been so connected and the world has become a smaller place. Subsequently, consumer behaviour has shifted; the ubiquity of connected devices and the digital interactions that result are creating trillions of terabytes that marketers can leverage to drive customer acquisition, reduce operating expenses and make faster, more targeted decisions. This is the age of Big Data and the challenge for marketers is harness the influx of this data and translate it into an asset that can be processed and acted upon, in real time.
For the past 15 years I have borne witness to a number of significant changes in the way in which marketers have had to adapt to changing data and the tools available. Most recently, the landscape has been characterised by DSPs (demand-side-platforms) which introduced and provided marketers with programmatic media buying using sophisticated algorithms to determine which ad placements are more likely to convert consumers whilst driving the optimal returns on revenue. Whilst the benefits for advertisers were clear, there was some hesitancy as questions about the quantity of premium inventory on exchanges and whether there were sufficient safety controls to guarantee that their ads would appear in a high-quality context.
As the DSP became more established, so too did it become increasingly commoditised by the agency sector, which was broadly of the view that the DSP was tactical and low-value, judging by performance without taking into consideration the strategic value of the data itself, the analytics, decisioning and real-time actions. The unfortunate perception was that DSPs were little more than cheap media-buying platforms with limited entanglement or shared vision of a brand's strategic long-term goals.
However, in such a rapidly evolving sector, led by the speed of technological advancement, the next evolutionary incarnations were not far away. With the continued fragmentation of the digital media space into an increasing number of point solutions and categories, demand facilitated the advent of data management platforms (DMPs) and attribution management platforms (AMPs). However, in tandem with this was the sector demand for consolidation and integration of these tools and functions into a single unified platform that would genuinely help brands leverage real-time data to drive the bottom line. I was fortunate enough to be with DataXu to witness the birth of the first ever consolidated digital marketing management platform - DX3.
How the sector and demand will evolve over the next few years remains to be seen. However, the age of digital and Big Data is also the age of the digital marketing management platform. By combining the programmatic buying of a DSP with data management, attribution-aware buying, insights and reporting, DMM platforms offer a transparency into the way in which digital marketing campaigns are run with built-in safety controls and support for brand engagement-friendly rich media, making them suitable for both direct response and branding campaigns. Furthermore, taking DataXu's DX3 platform as an example, this is specifically driven by Active Analytics™ providing the ability to feed insights back into the system for immediate action, which enables brands to automatically optimise the ROI of their digital marketing investments. The key DNA of the DMM platform is that they turn the constant influx of digital data into insight, and in turn into immediate and intelligent action.
We are inarguably living in the digital age, and more specifically, an age where Big Data can leave even the most veteran marketers gobsmacked. However, technological evolution is providing increasingly more accurate and advanced methods of collecting, analysing and interpreting the data for to allow for immediate, optimised actions in real-time.