Just a few years ago the concept of data democratization wasn’t exactly at the top of priority lists for decision-makers at brands and digital agencies. Standard site retargeting was commonplace, and checked the box as a sufficient strategy to address the question “How are we re-engaging with our customers online?"
However, now that more than twelve months have passed since Google’s announcement to phase-out Third-Party cookies from its Chrome browser, the spotlight has turned to data democratization as a critical component of preparing for the cookie-less future.
Data Democratization: The concept that there are no gatekeepers to data that could create a bottleneck at the gateway to the data. It facilitates easy access in order to understand the data, so it can be used to expedite decision-making and uncover opportunities for an organization.
The primary barrier to achieving data democratization is acknowledging that First-Party data sources are often siloed within an organization. Site data is overseen by marketing managers; CRM and email lists sit under a data strategy team; Point-of-sale data is often overseen by revenue analysts. Until technology centered around Customer Data Platforms surfaced within the industry, there was little need or value for connecting these teams and data sets.
The blocking and tackling needed to bring these teams together and identify opportunities to unify the various First-Party data sets can be daunting - especially within a large organization - but the benefits are significant and immediate. Coordination between brands and their agencies can expedite this process, but many are still feeling unprepared.
According to a November 2020 KORTX client survey, just 43% of respondents felt they had a general understanding of how to access their company’s First-Party audience data. We also asked our clients to describe in their own words what the barriers are to unifying multiple data sources, and the results speak for themselves:
In order to effectively develop and maintain an organization-wide data strategy and achieve specific business objectives, companies should consider establishing a ‘Data Owner’ to work with cross-functional team leads and take responsibility for the successful implementation of the strategy.
Once coordination across data owners has been achieved, the next step is to centralize the assets and make them actionable through a technology solution. All KORTX clients gain access to Axon Audience Manager, which serves as a centralized platform featuring a suite of tools designed to accommodate the partners we work with across essentially all industry verticals.
The functionality and flexibility that’s built into Axon Audience Manager ensures that each unique data challenge and objective can be addressed with a bespoke solution. The final outcome of this process will be unique to a brand’s industry, products/services and customer journey, but the goal remains unchanged: Leverage the power of democratized data to influence strategic decision-making, business outcomes and campaign performance.
When all available categories of First-Party data are aligned, it creates a workflow that ideally mimics the brand’s customer journey, drawing insights from the first digital ad exposure all the way through a final conversion or purchase. A funnel analysis in Axon demonstrates how users traverse through a brand’s unique customer journey.
An example of this data flow starts with site visitors and extracting insights to create First-Party audience segments that are targetable across digital media endpoints (display, video, native and CTV). Supplementing these segments with email and CRM lists adds scale and fidelity to the campaign targeting strategy. Finally, using a brand’s point-of-sale data adds a critical measurement component, allowing campaign success to rely on business objectives rather than digital metrics such as CTR or Viewability.
Let’s put all of this into the context of a real-time use case. The retail vertical is a prime candidate for data democratization because most retail brands have data assets across multiple categories that would benefit from coordination, insights and activation.
Site Visitors: Likely the most broad data set encompassing past, present and future customers that can be analyzed and segmented based on which site events and actions they’ve taken. KORTX retail clients use Axon to create a full-funnel data strategy, meaning homepage visitors are addressed differently than ones that are more deeply engaged with the purchase process. Media and creative strategies for a user that signs-in and has shopping cart activity should differ from a high-level user that only browses the homepage.
CRM Lists: A robust list - or several - of a brand’s customers represents the various levels of engagement within the purchase journey and is easily on-boarded into Axon through LiveRamp. Variation between the lists can be aligned with the depth of engagement a retail customer has with the brand. Examples include whether they have made a purchase, submitted payment information or created a unique identifier such as a site login.
Email Marketing: Another unique component of a robust data strategy. Email addresses represent a user-level identifier that can be used to make an anonymous match to online IDs and applied in multiple ways. For example, customers that signed-up to receive a retail brand’s newsletter or offers via email can be targeted across Facebook, or translated into Axon IDs and reached across CTV inventory which moves the user experience into a more engaging ad format.
Point-of-Sale: Accurate success measurement is key, and when a purchase is the primary campaign goal (offline or online) it’s always a best practice for brands to apply their proprietary sales data to campaign measurement. This can be achieved by passing offline retail sales data at the product and/or store level, or using a custom Axon purchase event tag to track online product sales. Either method moves the focus away from vanity digital metrics and puts an emphasis on real-life business objectives.