Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Fastcoworks Created for and commissioned by Adobe
Fastcoworks Created for and commissioned by Adobe
Forget Ad Blockers—Marketers Should Worry About Their Partners

Data is more crucial than ever to brand storytelling. But for many companies, it’s second party—that is, collected by partners. And while we all know it can be symbiotic for experience-based businesses to share customer data, that doesn’t mean your partners will always be happy to fork it over.

According to Tim Waddell, Adobe's director of product marketing, the first offenders, are usually the "walled gardens": the big social networks. At the company’s Summit conference today in Las Vegas, he encouraged marketers to push them and other media partners for transparency around their audiences and IDs. If you don’t set that requirement early in the relationship, they could slow the transition to data-based storytelling by months or even years.

If you can’t get what you need directly from partners, Waddell said, you may be able to combine data from consulting services and your ad ops team to reproduce what the social networks have.

Even if some partners provide what you’re after, they might undermine your strategies (by not taking action against consumers with ad blockers, for instance). Because storytelling requires months or years worth of data, it can take time before marketers realize they’re not getting what they need.

Partner sites may have their own procedures for misbehaving visitors, Waddell said, but you still need to calculate how the approach affects your KPIs and your attempts to optimize. You can then negotiate them into action (or at least better terms). If they don’t play ball, move on to publishers or PMPs that disincentivize ad blockers.

Which brings the discussion to the other kind of partner: the vendors selling you software and services. If you’re spinning your wheels with them, examine what your software platforms can do on their own. Companies often spend millions on core technologies, only to fail to use them fully.

"If you can’t get your organization galvanized around a new process," Waddell said, "that Ferrari is just going to sit in the garage."

His advice: Think about the core technologies for your business and prioritize integrating them into the workflow, testing new solutions on the periphery of your industry as they come along. Once the right systems are in place, you can begin knocking down the obstacles to data one by one.

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