Great brands care about their consumers and strive for the right mix of when, where, and how often to engage them in order to deliver the best possible brand experience. However, the ongoing walled garden versus open-platform debate, one we’ve heard ad nauseam across the industry, often loses sight of the consumer entirely.
We, as an industry, should approach this discussion from the lens of the consumer and focus on how our choices as marketers will ensure the best consumer experience. When putting the consumer first, there are two imperatives.
First, it is only with real people—deterministic true identities—that marketers can get the “how often” part of the equation right and reach consumers across all the devices they use. Secondly, it is only with an open view that marketers can answer the questions of “when” and “where” by reaching their consumers with a holistic strategy across all channels. This ensures a consistent experience across all touch points.
A people-based approach targets at scale in order to move the needle for a marketer’s business. In order to get this scale, you need a foundation built on a very large database of registered users. People-based marketing goes well beyond the cookie-based approach, in which one person may be represented as three or four people across their desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. Essentially this means marketers are reaching far fewer people, and they are bombarding these people more often than they intend to, causing a bad consumer experience.
Of equal importance to a true people-based approach is openness and flexibility. A walled garden makes it nearly impossible for a marketer to have one holistic approach across all touch points where their consumers may be. Facebook’s recent announcement that it will accept a select group of third-party measurement and verification services is a step in the right direction, but many marketers and publishers are still craving more ways to compare performance across multiple platforms.
Consumers spend most of their online time outside of just searching for products or browsing social networks. They spend time on desktop computers as well as on mobile devices and tablets, watching TV, engaging with premium content both online and in print, and more. If the numerous vendors that allowed brands access to these channels all took a walled garden approach, the result for brands could mean inconsistent and potentially even contradictory messaging, interruptive bombardment with a high volume of ads, and more, leading to a poor brand perception.
Such an approach and refusal to share data also creates a binary scenario where an ad impression either led to a sale or didn’t lead to a sale, regardless of all other places online and offline that a consumer may have engaged with the brand. Measurement, attribution, continued learning, and one holistic approach are all impossible within this closed system, leaving marketers struggling to figure out how their efforts in a walled garden fit into their broader strategies and accurately measure ROI.
It is only with open, people-based marketing built on a foundation of real people that marketers can tell a cohesive brand story across channels, sequence the messaging, attribute the results, and give their consumers the best brand experience.