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IBM, known for designing intelligent computer hardware and software and building middleware technology to merge disparate data that runs manufacturing supply chains, will now do the same for the advertising industry. 

The company has built a data partner network in the cloud, and continues to work on tag management standards with support from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The middleware cloud framework integrates data from across search, social, gamification, and other media through one tag. Previously, companies would pay to integrate data sources, but the technology allows those participating in the partner network to combine and share data.

The IBM Digital Marketing Optimization platform, part of IBM's Cloud Suite for CMOs, powers the IBM Digital Marketing Network. It offers an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that links services in as little as two clicks.

Jay Henderson, IBM strategy director of enterprise marketing management, said marketers can take the behavioral data from a demand-side platform and leverage it in programmatic ad-buying. He said the partner network not only makes it easy to share data and deliver a more relevant message to consumers, but drives better visibility into the marketing messages they respond to best.

Integrating data will become critical in 2014. The IBM 2013 State of Marketing Survey cites $83 billion in lost sales annually due to poor, inconsistent customer experiences. The breakdown underscores the importance of evaluating media channels as well as understanding consumers in order to create a consistent experience through shared data.    

The network integrates data from ad networks, data management platforms, social media marketing, search marketing, gamification, and privacy management. Some of the partners include x+1, Accenture, Adchemy, BlueKai, Bazaarvoice, Criteo, DataXu, ExactTarget, eXelate, ForeSee, Google, iPerceptions, Kenshoo, Lotame, Marin Software, MediaMath, Rocketfuel, Salesforce, Searchmetrics, Shoutlet, StongMail, Turn and more.

IBM also spearheads an initiative to build digital marketing industry standards for streamlining tag data management with the World Wide Web Consortium. Joined by more than 80 experts from 45 industry companies such as Google and Adobe, the W3C issued a draft specification in July and plans to publish the final specification later this year. The specification will support one model for data collection.