Bill Gassman

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Bill Gassman
Research Director
15 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Bill Gassman specializes in helping marketing leaders manage, measure and optimize their Web, mobile, social and search marketing programs. For more than 15 years, he has advised marketing teams on how to use technology ... Read Full Bio

Are You LinkedIn to a Digital Analyst?

by Bill Gassman  |  May 31, 2013  |  Comments Off

By now, we all understand that data and analysis play a big part in a successful digital marketing strategy, but I don’t think most marketers fully understand what it takes to be data driven.  At one level, analytics is easy.  You install Google Analytics or load data into a spread sheet and can explore to your heart’s content.  It is easy to paste charts and graphs, with circles and arrows, into memos or presentations for that monthly report or yearly budget justification.  But, is the analysis correct?  Do creative marketing folks understand what they are looking at?  Do they know how to challenge the results?  Do they care about the numbers?  Are they even asking the right questions?  In many cases no.  This is why all marketers need digital analysts on their staff.

The role of a digital analyst is relatively new; having evolved from the days when the web master was also the web analyst.  Web analytics is still important, but digital marketers need so much more.  Today’s popular marketing buzzwords, mobile, social and multi-channel, bring new data sources and new analysis requirements, but it goes beyond that.  Segmentation, personalization and optimization are key tools in today’s digital marketer’s tool bag, because the data is there to work with, the market is flush with solutions and the math works.  If not for you, look at the leaders in your industry.  Running your marketing operations by the numbers works even better if the source data is accurate, current and available, and that doesn’t come for free.  Handling these issues, and more, is the role of the digital marketing analyst, and perhaps even a data scientist, but good luck finding a good one to hire.

Part of the problem in finding a digital analyst is that the culture of marketing is strongly based towards the right-brained creative world.  After all, without content, there is no marketing.  Creative people tend to make decisions based on intuition, while analysts use logic and analytical thinking, a right-brain dominate trait.  In an ideal world, the marketer and analyst have a balanced way of thinking, so that each skill re-enforces the other.  Marketers use analysis to spark creativity and measure what works, while analysts focus on highlighting the creative works that most align with business goals.   Indeed, the best digital analysts go beyond crunching the numbers, and know how to turn insights into stories that inspire trust in the data and influence decisions.  We’ll all get there some day – and many organizations are already there.

Do you know many digital analysts?  The digital analyst community is alive and well, but not well enough connected with the creative marketing world.  The extent of the problem recently became clear to me while interviewing candidates to fill roles in Gartner’s advisory service to digital marketers.  The candidates were superb, some with famous digital campaigns in their resume, yet they were all poorly connected to the digital analytics community.    I say this, because they were all at least three degrees of separation from me in LinkedIn.  While you may be chuckling at my analysis techniques, hear me out.  In my 500+ connections, I am directly linked to some of the best digital analysts in the industry.  Luminaries, such as Avinash Kaushik, Jim Stern, Gary Angel, Bryan Eisenberg, Eric Peterson and Rand Schulman have been building connections in the web and digital analytics community for over 10 years and each have 500+ LinkedIn connections.  My list also includes digital analyst practitioners at some of the biggest brands.  Our marketing candidates also had 500+ LinkedIn connections, but obviously focused in another branch of the digital marketing community.  How is it possible that we didn’t have at least one connected person in common?  I’m still puzzling over this one!

So the point of this blog is; if you are a digital marketer, get to know your digital analyst, if you have one.  If you need one, tap into the vibrant community out there.  Look at the Digital Analytics Association.  Check out the Twitter #measure stream.  Attend a Web Analytics Wednesday social event.  There are great digital analysts out there, but they are in high demand, and they like to work for those that appreciate their work.  And, when you meet one, invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn.  Let’s get the creative and analytic digital marketing communities more aware of each other.

Comments Off

Category: Data Driven Marketing Digital Analytics digital marketing Web Analytics     Tags:

The Art and Science of Data-Driven Marketing

by Bill Gassman  |  April 18, 2013  |  3 Comments

Little doubt should remain that data-driven marketing has broad potential.  Leading brands, like NY Times, Disney, Wal-Mart, Intuit and Geico prove its worth every day.  There is also a strongly collaborative community of digital measurement specialists (see Twitter #measure), committed to helping each other get more value from data and celebrate better conversion rates.  The weak link though is buy-in from the creative side of marketing, to be driven by data.

Gartner’s recently published survey on data-driven marketing shows most organizations understand the potential of analytics.  They allocate an average of 21% of their marketing budget towards analytics.  A survey summary is freely available at this link.

What the survey doesn’t show is how effectively organizations use the results of analysis and how efficiently they spend their analytics budget.  How much of that analytics budget is wasted?  Getting value from data is more difficult than sitting in the CMO captain’s chair and commanding; “make it so”.

The selection of tools available to the data-driven marketer is already nothing short of amazing.  You can tell which campaigns are attracting your audience, how people behave, create micro-segments and target an individual based on context.  But, what good is all of this if you don’t know what will persuade your users to take action, or are unwilling to expose creative ideas to the transparency of an A/B test?

Analytics tell you what is working and are pretty good at predicting what will work, but someone has to think up the possibilities in the first place.  New ideas takes creativity and analytics can help people that are creative do things better.  The best work gets done within the intersection of art and science.  Organizations that figure this out first have a marketing advantage over those that come around more slowly.

Where should you focus your data-driven efforts?  On the data, of course.

  • Hire talent that knows the science of analytics, but has passion for the artistic side of marketing.
  • Measure everything you can.  Build telemetry into the development process of online applications, content and campaigns.  Mash with externally purchased and internal data.
  • Embed analytics into every marketing decision where it makes sense.  Train the creative folks, so it becomes essential to their work.
  • Create an independent analytics omnibus to measure results from the CMO’s point of view.  Here, all individually optimized tasks come together into (ideally) harmony with business goals.

Bottom Line: The science behind data-driven marketing works, but works best when there is trust, not suspicion among the creative staff.

Points for discussion – what have you seen work, or not work, to enlarge the intersection of the art and science of digital marketing?  Do you agree it is important?

3 Comments »

Category: Data Driven Marketing Digital Analytics digital marketing Digital Marketing Programs     Tags:

Give Insight for Better Engagement

by Bill Gassman  |  April 15, 2013  |  Comments Off

A cribbage game from Fuller Systems is the best time sink on my tablet and smartphone.  After hundreds of games, I’ve developed a few new cribbage strategies, but no insight was close to what I recently received as a gift.  It started with a pop-up, when I opened the cribbage application.  I was invited to look at their blog to see advice on how to play better.   http://blog.cribbagepro.net/

Using the telemetry from millions of games, the game maker’s analysis illustrates the most and least successful playing patterns.  The one that caught my eye was a cribbage hand with an ace, four and two “10″ cards, or A-4-X-X in cribbage notation.   I’ve seen this pattern many times, yet didn’t have a preferred way to play it.  The blog posting explained that, based on their analysis, leading the ace, rather than the four, yields higher points for the pone (the non-dealer).   Now I know.

This analysis is yet another example of how the “digital exhaust” from business operations can provide better customer value.  We should be thinking about this for all applications.  First, the game collects play action telemetry by instrumenting the application.   The more difficult part is knowing how analyze the patterns.  In this case, the skills came from a Fuller customer that loves analyzing data – showing the value of considering a crowd-sourced approach.  The science (and art) of game analytics is in its infancy, yet will grow as companies add game theory to brand and product marketing strategies.

Combining game analysis with a social angle impressed me the most.  It was the first message I’d seen from the game provider.  They were engaging with me at a new level.  Having never been to the developer’s web site or seen its blog, they hooked me with an in-game tease about how to play better.  It was a gift of insight, not an up-sell

Fuller System’s Cribbage Pro is only a game, but it is also part of their business.  They are showing a path that others can follow.  Because they brought me to new level of engagement, I upgraded to their multi-user version for $2.99.  It would be interesting to see the attribution report for how many saw the pop-up, read the blog and bought the upgrade.  Sometimes, the soft-sell is the most effective.

Comments Off

Category: Digital Analytics digital marketing Social Marketing     Tags:

Insights from Gartner’s Social Marketing Survey

by Bill Gassman  |  March 27, 2013  |  1 Comment

On the heels of publishing Gartner’s marketing spend survey comes another on social marketing.  A promotional piece, Gartner’s 2013 Social Marketing Survey Finding: Content Creation Fuels Social Marketing, is available to all.

Unlike the marketing spend survey, which was multiple choice, we conducted the social marketing survey using old fashioned social techniques.  Talking.  We held one-on-one interviews with 50 large companies, already with a social marketing initiative in place.  The diversity in comments is astounding, especially across industries and level of investment.  It correlates well with the data from the marketing spend survey published March 12′th.  Here is a table from the spending survey, showing social marketing as a percentage of the digital marketing budget.

Industry

Social Marketing

Media

15%

Financial

10%

Retail

10%

Manufacturing

9%

High-Tech

6%

 

Look at the differences!  The media industry spends the largest share of its digital marketing budget on social marketing, while the social share in high-tech industries is less than half that of media.  For high-tech, search marketing spend ranks first and social marketing is last.  We expect growth in social marketing across all industries, but there are barriers in the way as companies and whole industries still work to determine how to reach their customers and support corporate goals.

First the good news.  The survey shows almost 40% are driving leads from social marketing and about the same percentage sees analytics as a top investment priority for their social marketing programs.  This balance of investments can be the catalyst of a virtuous cycle.  The more you measure, the more you know what works – and that justifies more budget towards efficient and effective actions.  More, more, more, for less.  That’s music to your CEO’s ear.

What about the 60% that are not trying to driving leads or not treating analytics as a top future investment?  The interviews revealed that many focus their social effectiveness measurements more on awareness and customer service than for driving leads.  These companies are gathering social metrics, such as Likes and Retweets, but not yet looking at social channels as part of the path to commerce.

Is it just a matter of time, or is social selling not relevant for some segments of the market?  We saw similar sentiment 15 years ago, when the Web was young, and today there are many that under use their web presence as part of the sales process.  The same will likely occur with social selling, but like happened with the Web, we expect a great awakening and rapid adoption and integration of new techniques that drive customers closer to purchase.  I wonder when we will see the tipping point.  We may already be past it.  Lots of organizations have figured out how to use social conversations to drive business, and there is rapid innovation in lead management and selling technology; even while processing transactions on social sites is still a non-starter.  Gradually, the pressure to catch-up will increase for those standing by the pool or just wading around as the social selling race is under way.

In another angle from the survey, we see a strong trend to use external service providers, like agencies or analytics outsourcers for the whole social marketing process; content development, publishing and reporting.  Even strategy in some cases.  As this trend grows, we are seeing more providers entering this service market and stepping up to the 24×7 brand engagement cycle.  Just today (3/27), there was a New York Times article about the Madison Avenue agency, McCann Erickson New York, expanding its social media division staff to 30 and renaming it “McCann Always On”.  While some companies still say the brand dialogue is too precious to allow it to live with an agency, social marketing demands are high, and some agencies are ready to absorb the impacts. It is still early days though.  Scope, quality and cost varies across agencies, but the survey shows quite a few are satisfied with their outsourcing choices.

If your organization is among those spending a below average percentage of your digital marketing budget on social marketing, follow this line of questioning.

  1. How does your organization’s priority of social marketing compare to your industry peers.
  2. Are your company and marketing executives promoting or inhibiting social marketing?  If there is a gap in budget to where your industry peers are, what will convince the executives to invest properly?
  3. How do you measure a return on social marketing?  How does your analytics help you optimize your social activities?  If the answers are “not well”, the catalyst you need is evident.
  4. Can the agencies and consulting firms you work with today provide a boost into a proper orbit of social marketing?  If not, given your corporate culture, will it be faster to build the skills internally or look externally?
  5. How long can you afford to wait – and will you be able to ramp up quickly enough when the time to catch-up comes?

Gartner’s social survey is available to Gartner for Marketing Leaders clients with seven findings, but the comments from the interviews are more colorful than charts can reveal.   We encourage a dialog here on this blog posting and look forward to one-on-one discussions during client inquiries.  The social marketing gap is widening for those that are sitting on the sidelines or only have a toe stuck into the social water.  For those already in the race, there are new landmarks, and a few sharks, to come.  For those holding back, don’t wait too long.

 

1 Comment »

Category: Commerce Everywhere Digital Analytics digital marketing Social Marketing     Tags: , , , , , ,

Slicing Gartner’s Digital Marketing Spending Survey

by Bill Gassman  |  March 21, 2013  |  Comments Off

Gartner’s Digital Marketing Spending Survey was published on March 12′th as free promotional research for the Gartner for Marketing Leaders advisory service .  As an analyst that covers the digital marketing analytics market, surveys offer a welcome opportunity to get my hands dirty, diving into data.  Our research process of picking the best material to publish results in a lot of good material on the cutting room floor, but the raw data remains.  Here are some interesting findings from the long tail of our survey, teased out by slicing the averages by various segments.  When segmenting by industry, maturity and size of company, some of the results are anything but average.

Note: Gartner for Marketing Leader clients can do some of their own slicing with the “Toolkit: Compare your Digital Marketing Budget Allocation Against Those of your Peers”

First, overall marketing budgets range from nine to over 12% of company revenue and are expected to rise 5-7% in 2013.  When slicing the data by company size, mid-sized companies in the same industry, in the $500 million to $1 billion revenue range, spend more  on marketing, by over a percentage point of revenue,  than larger companies.    Efficiency of scale can account for some of this.  Larger organizations can afford better audience data and analytics , which produce better yields for the money.

The industry slice  interesting too.  While those in the media industry ranked first in a marketing spend to revenue ratio, high-tech companies spent three percentage points less, and plan lower budget growth.  This makes sense.  Media firms are part of the marketing ecosystem, so spend a lot to draw in audiences.  Many high tech firms sell B2B, with a smaller set of customers than B2C, and on average, lag in adopting new marketing trends.  Yet, in this survey, they are less behind than in previous surveys.  The shift of lead nurturing (and attribution) from sales to marketing may account for this.

When it comes to the Digital Marketing component of the overall marketing budgets, average spend is about 25%.  But, it gets more interesting when looking into the numbers.

  • Companies with a digital marketing director/manager spend an average of nine percentage points more of their marketing budget on digital marketing than those without.
  • While 70% have a marketing technology leader, when the CMO owns that resource (40% of the time), the organization spends five percentage points more on digital marketing and are growing that budget five percent more than when the CIO owns the technical resources (13% of the time)
  • For those without a marketing technology leader, the digital marketing portion averages 10 percentage points less and growth plans almost 8% less than when the CMO owns the technical resource.

This shows that leadership correlates with more investment and technical leadership within marketing is becoming common for those with higher budgets.  This is important.  After all, digital marketing technology can get complicated and someone has to make it work.

The take-away here is; if digital marketing is important to your corporate goals, hire a digital marketing director with ownership of the technical resources to get the job done.

There are two more surveys in the works, so there will be lots more data to analyze, cross-correlate, slice and dice.  I am longing for one of the cool self-service analytics tools that I regularly see in briefings, but for now, Excel is still my ‘go-to’ tool.

Comments Off

Category: Digital Analytics digital marketing Digital Marketing Programs     Tags: , , , ,

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

by Bill Gassman  |  February 6, 2013  |  Comments Off

At Gartner’s European Business Intelligence conference, held the first week of February, the gap between the IT led business intelligence groups and digital marketers couldn’t have been more clear.   The expected “big data” hype was visible all over the exhibit hall, but it was a stretch to see where any vendors were pitching solutions that would help the digital marketer succeed with analytics – or even help the BI group get involved with the task.  Digital marketing is not yet a hot topic among the BI crowd.

The user round-table that I moderated on building rapport between the BI and marketing teams was well attended, but the stories were unfortunately familiar.  One contributor lamented that marketers don’t follow the rules, and their requests are for flexible, dynamic and agile solutions.  They don’t have appreciation for what is done for them and ask for the impossible”, said another.  A third complained that, “marketers ignore security issues and have no patience”.

Well, these descriptions of marketers are accurate, but you may be having the same reaction I did; “Yeah, so what?  If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!”.  Digital marketing involves demanding and dynamic use of technology and analytics and nobody should be surprised with the demands, the pace or the passion to get things done.

In defense of the BI organizations, they have challenges too.  Up to 90% of their time is consumed handling operational tasks to satisfy their many analytics consumers, such as keeping the data flowing, worrying about data quality, agonizing over the artistic value of reports and meeting deadlines.  But, no excuse is sufficient.  The BI organization doesn’t have a monopoly on analytics.  IT is but one supplier of analytics to a marketing organization.  Marketers have a job to do and source appropriately.

At the end of the session, we went around the table to see what people had learned.  Many realized for the first time that they were not alone in feeling inadequate to support their marketing organization.  Some were pleased to learn of successful cases where the BI organization introduced self-service tools, such as Tableau and Qlikview to the marketing team.  The best advice of the day seemed to be “focus on where you can be most valuable, and don’t try to do everything”.

While it is tough advice for a BI organization to hear, marketers should give them a choice to lead, follow or get out of the way.  A few BI teams are able to provide leadership, and examples from industries like the telecom world are stunning.  Many are able to provide value by following the lead of the marketing organization, who can often use qualified help, such as vendor selection, data integration or training on self-service tools.  For other BI teams, getting out of the way – at least for the most part – is the most valuable tactic.  It allows marketing to chart their analytics path and leaves the BI team free to work on other tasks where it can be more relevant.

Give your BI team a chance to help.  See if there is interest and capability.  If the BI organization won’t work with you, you may find a good analyst or two that wouldn’t mind switching teams.

 

Comments Off

Category: Digital Analytics digital marketing Digital Marketing Programs     Tags:

Three Marketing Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

by Bill Gassman  |  October 30, 2012  |  2 Comments

In late October, Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and impacted millions.  It was not a surprise.  The weather service reported on it for over a week.   Predictions for landfall and impact had high confidence for days and, in hindsight, were very accurate.  Everyone learned about the power of nature, but for digital marketers, there are additional lessons the storm leaves behind about the power of technology.

  1. Change your message and delivery channels to match the context
  2. Use predictive models to give you an alert and time to prepare
  3. Track your campaigns from inception to impact in real-time

The first lesson is to be agile enough to advertise when and where context changes.  This gives you a chance to accelerate the positive and damper the negative.  People in the track of the storm, or engulfed in any episodic event, change their interests, media habits and search engine key words.   This is no time to take a week to plan a new marketing campaign.  Your search engine and social marketing content, along with budget reserves, should be on the shelf and ready to go operational during predictable events.  With a little tweaking for context, you are ready to get your message delivered to an episodic audience.   In this case, storm name, intensity, path and impact were the context variables.  For many, this is obvious.  The advertisements for property insurance got a bit old, but it was interesting to watch how fast the US presidential campaigns shifted to less negative messages.  With a bit of innovation, anyone can ride the wave with a bit of contextual branding or product promotion, and measure the results.

Second, recall the words of George Box, who is quoted as saying “all models are wrong, but some are useful”.   Without models, few would have predicted the storm would make a left hook and hit New Jersey.   After several models converged on the same conclusion, officials and individuals acted with faith in technology, and spent millions of dollars to reduce loss of life and property damage.  Just 14 months earlier, models for Hurricane Irene weren’t so accurate.  People in NYC prepared for a degree of impact never realized but the false alarm turned out to be good rehearsal for the real thing.

Modeling tools for marketers are plentiful, and useful, even if the resultant models are not as complex or as accurate as weather models.  Not every campaign will meet the forecast, but many will.  The skills to build multiple models, know which ones to trust in different situations and act quickly on prescriptive advice gives an organization a competitive edge.    The next time there is a significant weather event, dig deeper into the discussions from the weather service.  Their lingo will teach you how to turn models into forecasts.

Finally, realize the value of real-time information.  There is a resolution gap between what is happening and what happened.  During an event like Sandy, there is a flood of information, such as predicted path, current wind speeds, evacuation notices, traffic jams, water levels and people’s reactions.  Information is on the news, social networks and is the topic of daily conversation.  Oh yeah, you can look out your window too and get to clean up the damage first hand.  There is no better time to get a sense of what is happening than during the event.  If you want to understand the history of Hurricane Sandy, sure, you can find lots of information, but it doesn’t unfold in a way that gives you the same sense that you get while following what is happening.  Living the moment, enhanced by real-time technology, is a new wonder of the modern world.

The lesson for digital marketers is two-fold.  First, build real-time monitoring into your campaigns.  Watch them as they unfold.  Be aware of the publishing schedule, customer reaction and social discussions, along with the weather, news of the day and your colleagues’ reaction.  You will never have a better time to learn the nuances of marketing than while living it live.  The second aspect is to publish in real-time if it is relevant to your audience.  Video may be better than text, so understand the optimal channel and media type mix, and ensure your publishing operations is ready to go.

2 Comments »

Category: Digital Analytics digital marketing Digital Marketing Programs Social Marketing Uncategorized     Tags: , , , , , ,

Commerce Everywhere Needs Analytics Everywhere

by Bill Gassman  |  October 8, 2012  |  Comments Off

Over the next few years, pressure will increase to support commerce everywhere, and we’ll see all sorts of experiments.  Some will work, many will fail.  In ether case, including analysis everywhere can accelerate the outcome and support operations for changing customer expectations and business risk.

Digital marketers have a seemingly endless supply of shiny new objects for marketing and commerce, are are using them to outdo the competition and reinvent themselves.  However, there is a trap waiting for those who get too caught up in trends and lose track of the big picture.  If you optimize for new shiny objects, you may not realize you are losing business somewhere else.

Don’t overlook the analytics.  Beyond channel optimization, analytic processes act as an independent watchdog over all you do.  Most organizations could benefit by something pointing out the elephant or hippopotamus in the room, but too often, analytics end up as afterthought, or even worse – something to be avoided.   Don’t.  Instead, learn to accelerate innovation with transparent feedback and collaborative analysis.

Let’s take the example of a new payment feature which lets shoppers pay for items while in the store isles, eliminating the check-out experience.  Technically this sounds very cool, but will it work for you?  In-isle buying may garner delight from tech-hip customers and spur impulse buying, but what if you lose your high-tech laggard customers because they are intimidated by all that new fangled process.  Will you know?  Do you care?  Are you agile enough to adjust?

A digital savvy CMO will create a culture that builds measurements into every marketing and sales effort.  New insights are teased from mashed-up information, looking at channels, price optimization, marketing mix and answering hundreds of other questions.  Answers such as;  Why do new commerce techniques work for some customer segments and not for others?  Which commerce channels are growing overall business and which are eroding other channels for an overall loss in business?

Gut feel is no longer good enough.   With so much diversity in buyers and channels, and unproven techniques to try, analytics everywhere is a key component to succeeding at commerce everywhere.  Talk to your digital analytics group while planning new commerce channels.

For more on commerce everywhere, catch up with this week’s Gartner for Marketing Leaders theme blogs from Jennifer Beck, Allen Weiner, Richard Fouts and Michael McGuire.

Comments Off

Category: Commerce Everywhere Digital Analytics digital marketing Digital Marketing Programs Uncategorized     Tags: , , ,

Google Tag Manager: A Disruptive Opportunity

by Bill Gassman  |  October 1, 2012  |  9 Comments

Here comes Google again. In 2006, Google disrupted the Web analytics industry with its free product, Google Analytics. On October 1′st, 2012, Google announced availability of Google Tag Manager,   also free.  A Tag Manager is a proxy-like service that converts a single tag on every web page into any number of additional tags for tag-driven products and functions.

Free and good enough, Google Tag Manager will disrupt the current market dynamics for tag management products. Within 18 months, we can expect more users of Google Tag Manager than all others combined, similar to the adoption ratios that Google Analytics enjoys.

Tag managers are a great for marketing analysts and advertisers, but that is not the point of this post. Gartner clients can learn more about tag managers and those that provide them in this document: Tag Management Systems Boost Website Efficiency, Quality and Results G00238074.

More importantly, Google’s disruptive entry is a golden opportunity moment for the digital marketing industry to standardize a data exchange model across all tag management systems.

Of the many benefits that come with using tag managers, having a common definition for variables and events  is key requirement for advanced users.  Here, variables about  the visitor, page or transaction, and events like filling in form fields are picked up by a tag and passed on to the tag-driven product. Tag carried data is how tag-driven products work, such as web analytics, A/B testing and advertising attribution.

Normally, each tag-driven product has its own variables in a page and its own tag to retrieve the data. Tag managers consolidate the data passing phase, then maps common variables to whatever is needed for each tag driven product. Imagine how much more simple it is to configure tags in a management system versus maintaining tags within a web page.  Now it is easier for web site and content developers to define variables without having to know which tag-driven products will be used.

Now, here is the problem and opportunity. While common data models in today’s tag management systems are a great step forward, each provider represents a different common data model. We are swapping many proprietary data models for a single one, but that one still locks you into a single tag management provider.

If the tag management providers could agree on an standard data exchange model, developers, content management systems and even off the shelf commercial application developers wouldn’t have to care who’s tag management system would be used.

Why is the time ripe for a standard? Let’s face reality. Google will quickly be the new 500 pound gorilla in the tag management market. No other provider has enough market share or market clout to dictate a data model standard, not even Adobe and IBM. Yet, Google’s data model is not finalized yet. There is more work to do. This is the perfect time to try for standardization.

Standards are hard to create, especially among competitors, but it can be done.  The networking industry is not without precedent. Ethernet, TCP/IP, SNMP and HTML are prime examples of evolutionary standards that each sparked rapid growth in the overall industry and got us to where we are today. Standardizing a tagging data model would reduce market inhibitors by shifting competition from data model lock-in to more sophisticated management of tags and more use of applications that tags enable.

The standardization effort could be driven by Google, but involvement by a neutral party would help ensure success. The Digital Analytics Association is one obvious candidate for driving a standard, but advertising associations, such as the Internet Advertising Bureau must be represented too.

9 Comments »

Category: digital marketing Digital Marketing Platform Web Analytics     Tags: ,

Digital Marketing Platforms and Universal Remotes

by Bill Gassman  |  September 28, 2012  |  1 Comment

The term “digital marketing platform” is being thrown around by a number of providers as a universal solution for tool chaos. The benefit, we are told, is better productivity brought by an integrated set of marketing functions. There is a lot to be said for the concept. With a common user interface, common data model and engineered integration points, marketers should be able to perform their tasks seamlessly and more efficiently.

The concept is great. I cheer on the providers that are investing in building integrated platforms and marketing departments that buy into them. Some day, we may get to the point that the promise is realized. But, that day is not today and still seems to be a long way off. My favorite leading indicator to predict the era of true digital marketing platforms is near; is to see one, and only one, universal remote on my coffee table.

How many remote controls do you have on your coffee table? I’m writing to a technical crowd, so there are bound to be a few of you that own a $300 Sony or Logitech programmable remote. But, I’ve heard that it is difficult to get everyone in the household to use them. The programmer of the remote knows the tricks, so ends up being in control of the media. The result is governance and control rather than universal use. Perhaps this is the secret to winning battles over who drives the remote.

In my case, there are several “universal remotes” retired to my electronics junk box in the basement. I’m down to four remotes from needing six not too long ago. Getting an internet ready TV helped there, but my cable box, stereo and DVD player each have a few functions that can only be handled by the remote that came with it, even though my other two remotes claim to be multi-function.

Home media is a lot less complicated that Digital Marketing. When the universal remote problem is truly solved on my coffee table, then I’ll start believing that the universal concept might apply to complex business problems.

There is nothing wrong with buying into a Digital Marketing Platform. Just don’t expect it to solve all your marketing problems or be easy enough to use by everyone in the marketing organization. For the foreseeable future, at least until you have a truly universal remote on your coffee table, you will be using multiple marketing tools with overlapping functions and it will be messy to integrate data when you want to automate processes.

What is your approach to handling tool chaos and if you comment, let us know how many remote controls are on your coffee table.

1 Comment »

Category: digital marketing Digital Marketing Platform Digital Marketing Programs     Tags: