Gartner Digital Marketing Conference 2018: Day One Reflections

May 16, 2018 | By

BlueConic Reflections

Over the course of day one at the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference in sunny San Diego, I was surrounded by marketers of all stripes trying to make sense of what to do with AI for marketing, the increasing rise of walled data gardens, and personalization in the age of GDPR. Gartner analyst Andrew Frank’s opening keynote presentation really set the stage before the attendees scattered off to various tracks and sessions covering these complex topics.

Frank acknowledged that yes, the “big platforms” – Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon –  are black boxes that are continually making decisions to “maximize predictability of a positive response.” (This immediately made me think of Benjamin Bloom’s Gartner blog post earlier this year, Control Your Marketing Data, or Google, Facebook and Amazon Will.) But he then offered hope to brands and told them to look inside their own black boxes. He encouraged attendees to use emerging technology to learn more about customers in terms of what they want, what they value, what they do, and what brands can do for them.

I couldn’t help but want to stand up, raise my coffee into the air, and shout, “hear, hear!” Because this is exactly what we mean when we talk to our BlueConic customers about liberating their first-party data with our customer data platform (CDP).

If you’re looking for a single black box with all the answers, hidden somewhere on a dusty shelf in your marketing organization or deep on an IT backlog queue, you’re going to be disappointed. Instead, all of this customer data is scattered across your ecosystem – in your CRM, website and mobile app, email, adtech platforms, analytics solution, in-house database, and so on. When it’s so severely fragmented and inaccessible, it’s impossible to gain insights and take action in real time. Without a single view of the customer, AI for marketing will be an empty promise. Garbage in, garbage out.

Just looking around and listening in to the discussions, it’s so clear that marketers realize they can no longer afford to ignore this reality, especially with all the concerns around third-party data and rising walled gardens. They need to take control of their own first-party data because it truly is their most valuable asset.

As I went from session to session, the four themes that led to the rise of the customer data platform were everywhere. Attendees are no longer asking, “What is a CDP?,” but rather, “How would I start using it?”

Stay tuned for reflections on day 2. And if you’re asking that same question, “how would I start using a CDP?,” check out our customer data proficiency assessment, which will provide some use cases to get you started based on where you are today.

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