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Fastcoworks Created for and commissioned by Adobe
Fastcoworks Created for and commissioned by Adobe
Hey, Marketers! People Are People, Not Devices

Once upon a time, digital marketers used your computer as a proxy for you. If your computer did something before, say, making an online purchase, marketers could track that event as part of their sales funnel.

But today, people use all sorts of devices—TVs, phones, cars, gaming consoles— to connect online, making it difficult to measure someone’s trail of digital breadcrumbs. Even TV commercials have become harder to measure: Up to one-third of screen time today consists of two screens, such as cable television and a smartphone, simultaneously.

As Tim Waddell, Adobe’s director of product marketing, described at Adobe Summit today, this is a nightmare for e-commerce. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), up to 40 percent of people who start a transaction on one screen will finish it on another. In the context of "customer journeys," these are quantum odysseys in which people do things out of order and show up in different places at the same time.

The goal is still the same for marketers, Waddell said. It’s only the conditions that have changed.

"Today," he said, "the question is: How do we leverage what marketers have been doing, but get more nuanced around the identity management part?"

The answer, Waddell explained, is people-based advertising: that is, tracking people instead of devices. The problem with a multi-device world is that it obscures patterns that marketers rely on to segment audiences. The resulting chaos can be nihilism-inducing for anyone trying to move a particular segment down the funnel to conversion. In the quest to get the right experience in front of the right customer at the right time, it can be impossible to know if you’re helping the cause or hurting it.

The solution—moving your marketing data from a device-centric profile to a person-centric profile—requires big changes in terms of reporting.

"We have a very different view of a user from a lifetime-value perspective," Waddell said.

Far from making your team nihilistic, he said, "your segments can be much more finite, much more targeted."

Joining him onstage at Summit was Kelley Maves, the senior vice president of consulting and product for VivaKi, an ad-tech company owned by Publicis Groupe. The way we define activations must also change, Maves said.

"Marketing today isn’t just tent-pole events," he explained, citing the Super Bowl as an example of an irrational gamble on high-level brand messaging. "People-based marketing isn’t a start and stop campaign—it’s an always-on approach."

This article was created for and commissioned by Adobe, and the views expressed are their own.