If you run your publishing suite without a pure-play CDP, your car has no engine.
Let’s start by what we mean by publishing suite. Similar to the marketing clouds, these platforms are actually a combination of products designed to meet specific media and publishing use cases. Need a paywall setup? They’ve got you covered. What about an email service provider (ESP) for audience outreach and newsletters? Sure thing.
For small publishers and media companies, or those just getting started on their digital transformation, publishing suites are a great way to immediately check off some of the top use cases and hit the ground running. In this regard, we like the suites.
The problem is the data powering these suites doesn’t actually represent a single view of the customer. These suites often suffer from actually being a one-product company that acquired other technologies and attempted to bolt them together.
Even though under the same umbrella, they are separate user interfaces (UI), and unifying data means downloading data from one system and importing it into another, with no identity resolution to speak of. Not to mention if one product was underperforming, say the ESP, publishers are locked into a package deal that could not be unbundled. The chain breaks at the weakest link.
And then came a twist.
What’s in a Name?
The suites understood that customers were frustrated by the lack of clean, unified, useable data. Some suites acquired DMPs and called them a CDP solution, while others simply rebranded their existing relational database as a CDP.
Critically, with suites, the data itself resides in ineffective database types. We’ve written extensively on the trade-offs you face with a relational database as your CDP architecture. To summarize, a relational database is by far the most inflexible when it comes to enabling you to define your own taxonomy. They’re highly structured architectures whereby the database enforces the relationship(s) between objects. Once that data schema is implemented, you must work within its structure – pre-defining a relationship between unidentified visitors to a website and a campaign in order to store that information. Adding new systems and sources to your tech stack requires taking apart current implementations and creates barriers to innovation.
The suites that rebranded a DMP are stuck with DMP limitations, mainly: the solution is built around third-party orientation – data based on millions of soon-to-be-useless third-party cookies from across the web and matched with non-PII attributes like demographics and site behaviors. Using the cookie for data collection also means that a DMP “profile” typically only lasts for 90 days before it expires.
BlueConic’s profile database is tailor-made for persistent first-party data. Profile databases create and store truly unified profiles at the individual level, as opposed to just creating a chaotic graph of events (a la DMP) and its deconstructed events or enforcing an arbitrary data schema on the data set (a la CRM or MDM).
With a profile database, you can store a high volume of profiles, track readers’ engagement from the time they are anonymous to known, or target a segment of readers most likely to churn with special offers through your ad platform. You can also test out a new engagement strategy or open your paywall for a subset of content or audiences without IT or other technical resources. Using the right CDP helps you drive growth at your company, but more on that later.
Must Play Well with Others
In terms of interoperability, pure-play CDPs were built from the ground up to be technology agnostic. BlueConic doesn’t care what ESP you use. We have over 80 prebuilt connections right out of the box and have universal connections to any platform in your stack today and for the future.
We can also control audience consent collection on the front-end and manage those preferences on the back-end to federate across your stack. This allows you to respect your audience’s privacy, regardless of what other tools you use.
Integrated suites not only don’t have the technical capability to unify your customer data, they are actually disincentivized from doing so or they risk cannibalizing their own products.
The benefits of a profile architecture and interoperability are flexibility and operational efficiency. Sure, you may not have a large audience now, and your tech stack may be small. But what about as you grow? Publishers onboard new tools all the time, whether through digital transformation or periods of expansion. For example, one publishing customer of ours that distributes printed magazines found a way to tie offline purchases with online engagement. Without unified profiles and flexibility, that would’ve been impossible.
We learned during the pandemic that speed and flexibility are absolutely essential in dealing with rapid external dynamics. At the outset of the pandemic, multiple publishing customers of ours completely reimagined their paywalls and content metering setups to allow unlimited access to all COVID-related content to anyone, without a subscription. Overnight. And without technical help from IT or other teams.
That’s what we mean when we say speed and flexibility.
Your Stack Should Work For You
The benefit of a pure-play CDP is you don’t need to rip and replace your suite or any other tool – keep what works, ditch what doesn’t. The overlapping area in the middle you should think about as negotiable, use the platform that provides your audience (and your teams) with the best experience and outcomes:
In fact, your CDP should help you get more value and utility out of your other technology by powering it with smarter data to drive better outcomes. For example, using interest data to show relevant ads on site will help increase click-through rates for your partners. Or, suppress discounted offers from readers with a high propensity to subscribe.
This is all made possible by giving you utility on top of your first-party data; not just checking the box for single use cases.
Transformation-Focused Publishers Choose BlueConic
Much of this topic has dealt with the “floor,” meaning the baseline capabilities for executing your current use cases and doing so with operational efficiency.
But what about the ceiling… what’s possible when you have access to rich, real-time, first-party customer data? Transformation.
- Multi-dimensional Segmentation – Grouping readers, subscribers, donors, and audiences based on any combination of attributes, behaviors, consent, preferences, interests, scores, or other criteria and is no longer a task that requires manual list-pulls and handoffs. A user-friendly UI lets you build dynamic segments once that update in real-time, meaning members fall in and out of segments, as defined by your criteria, as soon as their attributes change. Moreover, you can build segments in two minutes, no coding skills are necessary. Segments can be used for anything from personalization to activation in other parts of your stack.
- Modeling and Analytics – Our AI Workbench feature uses data analytics and machine learning algorithms to enable non-technical users like you to find look-alike audiences, process engagement scores, and deliver personalized content and product recommendations. All in just a few clicks, without writing a single line of code. These are also white-box models, meaning you have complete visibility and control.
- Lifecycle Orchestration – Simply put, our Lifecycles feature enables publishers to react to audiences’ changing behaviors and actions in the moment by presenting custom-tailored, timely marketing messages to them automatically with real-time data. Through a simple, visual UI, marketers can setup up lifecycles that guide audiences through stages, like from an unknown visitor to a paying subscriber. Marketers connect all of their touchpoints (web, email, SMS, social) to create experiences that delight and convert, all in minutes, not days or weeks.
- Audience Monetization – Many media and publishing companies are using customer data platforms (CDP) like BlueConic to unify their first-party data. But building a first-party data management strategy built around a CDP like BlueConic also enables these businesses to generate more revenue from their audience data in other, non-traditional ways: from offering new digital products and experiences to developing second-party data relationships with other organizations. Audience monetization is only possible when you have to have true control of your first-party data, as with a pure-play CDP.
To bring it all back together, broader stacks built on best-of-breed solutions spark innovation, opening up new opportunities for internal stakeholders to expand what’s possible. Choose the solution that is right for you, without compromise.
Learn all about the benefits of picking a best-of-breed solution in publishing from BlueConic. Request a demo of our pure-play customer data platform today.