By Nancy Marzouk, CEO and Founder MediaWallah
The more marketers handle data, the more they need the right technology to ensure that they’re handling it well. Not only do they need to comply with government and industry regulations, they have to actually get value out of it.
How those goals are accomplished is starting to become more and more industry specific. When finance brands collect and use customer data, they need layers of encryption across their organization. Healthcare brands need to adhere to special privacy requirements. Retail brands have loyalty programs and partnerships with many other companies, with very high transaction rates, requiring near-real-time data management.
Not every technology can support these highly specific use cases today – and it’s just going to get worse. I predict that we are on the brink of a new tech explosion, one where industry specialists start to pull customers away from generalist solutions.
Here’s how it will play out:
It Starts With The Customer Data
The catalyst to this shift is brands’ growing focus on first party data. When a brand decides to collect, aggregate and use data, they have drastically different requirements than when they use third party data. The focus on data means that the primary tech category brands are scrutinizing so far is the CDP. CDPs are built to house customer data and provide a unified view of a customer, but industry by industry, and even brand by brand, that definition comes with additional requirements.
One obvious example is the healthcare industry. Healthcare marketers need HIPAA-compliant data collection across their entire organization. They also need to comply with the Truth in Healthcare Marketing Act, which means that they need to say the right things to the right audiences. Financial services companies have huge risks to manage when it comes to customer data. Information tied to credit scores, bank accounts and other assets put them at risk for data breaches.
CDPs specializing in helping healthcare and finance brands with these challenges are gaining traction, including Celebrus, with a long list of finance clients and claims to help healthcare marketers with “hyper-focused” patient targeting.
The trend is also taking over new industries. Take cannabis. This booming, but highly regulated retail industry has its own CPD, Surfside, which last year also launched a data co-op to help individual dispensaries increase their audience insight and reach. Zeotap and NG Data both provide CDPs for the airline and travel industries which play into the industry’s need to come back stronger post-pandemic with promises of “real-time” personalization and a focus on loyalty capabilities.
This handful of specialty CDPs is just the beginning. Check out a Gartner Magic Quadrant, and you can rest assured that each player in that report already has an industry or two that it supports best. I wager that they’ll continue to differentiate from one another in the next couple of years as identity heats up.
Execution Matters Just as Much
Imagine a day when The Trade Desk breaks into different DSP offerings for different industries. It’s not impossible. Already, a variety of brands have opted for specialized solutions over the mega-DSP.
What’s a healthcare brand to do with a CDP full of great patient data? Port it into a healthcare-specific DSP of course. DeepIntent has been the DSP of choice for many a healthcare brand because of the company’s ability to deliver specialized tools to reach key audiences including healthcare providers and patients with accurate messaging.
What’s more, retail media giants like Amazon and Walmart are wooing retail brands with DSP capabilities. No other DSP can top their ability to augment first party data with audience shopping insights for better scale and targeting.
History Repeating Itself, But Bigger
For anyone who’s been around digital advertising for a decade or more, this might feel a bit familiar. I remember clearly when P&G announced that they were creating their own DSP/DMP combo on top of Audience Science technology so that they could aggregate audience data across their global brands and ensure frequency capping, attribution, and other “CPG” marketing priorities of the day.
Companies have come and gone like JumpTap, focused on automotive marketing, which is weirdly distributed across global brands and regional dealers.
While those instances were a bit one-off, what we’re seeing today is not. There is a clear trend towards first party data and identity-driven marketing, and that will create a shift in the way brands use adtech. In many cases, the need for specialization will outweigh the integrations and scale of the big guys. Now that everyone has different data sets, a centralized mega pipeline is not as valuable as one that can squeeze as much value as possible from a brand’s data.
Adtech could go a few ways. As tech companies specialize, they could be acquired to create vertalized stacks, where CDPs, DCPs and measurement are all wrapped into one. Or big companies could suck the specialists back up, and wrap them back into the generic offerings creating the cycle all over again.
Whichever way things go in the future, right now, brands have an opportunity to build out capabilities that can help their data perform better. This really is the reason for new tech in the first place, and it should drive how the market evolves in the long run.