From the spectacular Sphere to our AI-powered alien robot Wormhole chatting it up with the press, there were numerous showstoppers at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Futuristic attractions aside, we were especially impressed by the minds behind all the astonishing technologies and the many inspiring conversations we had with our tech partners. For one, during our “Brunching Up on Personalization: A Tasty Discussion on Data Foundations” panel, we asked experts from Salesforce, Google and Lenovo how to bridge the gap between adtech and martech to create groundbreaking experiences. Their response? Data elevates your personalization efforts. Here’s what we learned.
Start building your data culture now.
In the spirit of first things first, the speakers wasted no time to highlight the importance of initiating and nurturing a strong data culture. Once again, the CMO profession is evolving—while the Mad Men heyday revolved around big creative ideas, this changed when the industry started implementing martech and focusing on precision. Now, it’s all about data. “The advertising landscape has changed so much that today’s marketing professionals are almost scientists,” said Google’s Global Brand Lead Felipe Gomes.
Successful companies, especially in tech and media, foster a strong data culture and weave that into everything they do.
However, many brands find themselves a bit stifled by how overwhelming data can be. In that case, Salesforce’s Vice President Tech Industry Strategy Lauri Palmieri argues that it’s critical to just get started—anywhere. “Choose the KPI and the segment that you care most about, obtain access to the data, and get going. Brands sometimes spend way too much time thinking about what they should do with their data instead of actually doing it,” she said.
Always make sure to establish solid and secure data foundations.
Once you get going, it’s crucial to govern the data. Before figuring out which sources of data to connect—think of information around clients, sales and marketing, cost and operations—brands must focus on taking care of their data. During the panel, Gomes stressed that data governance is the first thing he and his team at Google talk about with clients, raising questions such as what are the team’s roles and responsibilities, who is making sure the data is shared with a company’s core business units, how do you organize the data, how do you secure the data, and how do you ensure compliance.
The last question in particular was echoed by the other panelists, as the importance of privacy, ethics and trust can’t be overstated—any failure to comply with current privacy laws would not just affect the brand in question, but also the ones they collaborate with. “We don’t operate in silos, but we work very closely with our partners to understand all the governance, laws and regulations and ensure we meet them,” said Chin Wu, Lenovo’s Director of North America Marketing Consumer PC, Gaming, Tablets.
Chiming in, Gomes emphasized that education around privacy and safety is absolutely critical. “The amount of data, possibilities and, on top of that, regulations, it’s all really overwhelming. So, brands have the tendency to freeze,” he said. “Especially right now, with the main concern to transition to the cookieless future, [brands worry] what’s going to happen to the conversions or personalization strategies that are already happening with third-party data. That said, many tech partners are more than prepared to help brands on this journey towards safe and trusted data foundations.” Moreover, the good thing is that a lot of AI-powered solutions are built on first-party data.
Differentiate your brand in the new AI economy.
This brings us to the last topic of the day: AI and its unbreakable bond with data. We would be remiss if, at one of the top tech conferences in the world, we didn’t talk about this technology—particularly given the role it can play in advancing personalization efforts.
Establishing strong data foundations is key to the success of AI. From Google’s point of view, Gomes argues that when we talk about AI, we are essentially talking about two things that are available today: embedded solutions and applied solutions. Zooming in on the latter, this entails customized AI models that are related to factors like creative work, trends, insights and forecasting sales, to name a few. It should be noted that every brand that partners with Google has access to these solutions.
“This brings me to the point of distinguishing yourself using data, as the data serves as fuel for all these models,” said Gomes. “The better data you feed these models, the better your output is going to be. That is why it’s so important in 2024 and beyond to really focus on how you organize your data foundations. This is going to be the competitive differentiator for your company.”
Dialing it up a notch, Palmieri argued that the experiential piece—what you do with data—will ultimately differentiate your brand from another. “Since you can get to know your customers so well through data, the main question is: what do you actually do experientially as a result of that information? Marketing has an important role to play in using data to drive even more value for consumers,” Palmieri said. When it comes to personalization, first-party data and forward-thinking AI solutions leave today’s marketers with the opportunity to tailor best-in-class experiences to each and every individual.
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