The Future Demands Paid and Owned Convergence

October 17, 2016 — by Mary Casey    

This post originally appeared on IBM’s THINK Marketing blog.

Programmatic marketing—the automated and optimized management of all marketing touchpoints across the customer journey, fueled by data and powered by machines—is capable of transforming the way brands interact with consumers. Specifically, a proliferation of high-quality data and the rise of new connection mechanisms between platforms is enabling brands to master a 1:1 dialogue with customers throughout the purchase funnel, from prospecting to retention, increasing lifetime value.

To achieve this promise, marketers need to actively consider the full consumer experience, from paid to owned and earned. At most companies, the various technology platforms that drive marketing strategy and execution do not “talk” to each other, inhibiting marketers’ ability to deliver relevant, seamless marketing experiences that prospects and customers increasingly expect.

Advertising tech—for audience building, targeting and execution—has traditionally governed the world of paid media, including display, video, mobile and the like. Marketing tech has centered on owned channels such as on-site messaging and email marketing. Presuming that marketers seek to move as many customers through the purchase funnel as possible, as many times as possible, then marketers will benefit enormously by unifying all aspects of the customer’s experience, from initial acquisition through repeat purchases.

The disconnect between the two systems leaves consumers with a disjointed experience—a consumer may see a display ad featuring a product that’s already been purchased, for example. Consumers expect companies to see them holistically, accounting for purchase history, inquiries and preferences. As the number of consumer touchpoints has proliferated in recent years, it’s more important than ever to allow advertising tech and marketing tech to work together behind the scenes. For example, you don’t want consumers to see ads with a promo code they aren’t eligible to use or get emails highlighting offers they have already converted on by clicking an ad.

Customer experience is a critical frontier for competitive differentiation, and marketers are beginning to size up the opportunity cost of not connecting ad tech and mar tech. The barriers between the two are starting to fall with the rise of “programmatic marketing,” as silos across paid and owned media break down thanks to the interconnection of automated systems on both sides, to orchestrate the very seamless, relevant consumer experiences marketers are trying to effect.

Converging paid and owned has three key benefits for marketers:

1) The ability to see and better understand customer behaviors across a broader range of marketing touch points. Imagine connecting consumers’ in-store browsing behaviors with subsequent display messaging.

2) The delivery of more relevant messaging to these customers to improve business outcomes in both owned and paid channels (and the avoidance of delivering redundant messaging). Imagine shortening the number of touchpoints to drive consumers to a CTA, where each interaction, regardless of channel, builds seamlessly upon the last.

3) Reduced media waste by, for example, ensuring that a marketer isn’t paying to show an ad for a product a user has already purchased. Imagine higher return on ad spend, and leveraging impression opportunities to move consumers more closely to a CTA.

There are technologies in place to help connect paid and owned media systems—it’s up to marketers to partner with the right providers who can help them take advantage of these new possibilities.