So Much Data, Infinite Possibilities: A Peek into Customer Data Platforms

September 26th, 2019 | Michelle Cunningham, MightyHive

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Today the modern marketer has no lack of access to infinite amounts of data. The real question a marketer needs to ask themselves is how they can utilize that data in a way that makes sense, while still ensuring customer relevancy and respecting privacy rights.

There are multiple technology platforms out there today that can help analyze and unify datasets. Customers today are shying away from technologies that are overly reliant on cookies due to the privacy and regulation that is impacting the industry. This has marketers shifting over to evaluate a new type of technology called a Customer Data Platform (CDP).

The arms race from the tech giants to launch these new pieces of their platform puzzle and how they choose to integrate with each other will be how the battle is won. Partnerships that facilitate the collection, organization and analysis of data to yield usable segments across all platforms which then can be activated with media and advertising will lead to better customer journeys and experiences.

Customer Data Platforms – The Race to 1-1 Marketing

A customer data platform is software used to create a uniformed customer database that integrates with other marketing software and platforms. Data is aggregated from multiple sources and then cleaned to create a single customer profile with a unique identifier.

Customer Data Platforms:

  • Create powerful tools for marketers with an easy intuitive interface
  • Build identity beyond online advertising with integrations for multiple touchpoints including offline data, service data, and commerce data to show the bigger picture
  • Provide a platform that combines insights and engagement all in one spot

Salesforce unveiled its plans for its CDP called Customer 360. The platform, which is expected to be released next year (Fall 2020), will unify customer data throughout the entire Salesforce stack as well as third-party external sources to create what most marketers want; a single view of the customer using a singular customer ID. Since many marketers are already using many pieces of the Salesforce Marketing/Sales Clouds this is an exciting and critical component for their current user-base to get one step closer to knowing their customers on a whole new level – from sending an email to them, to then following up with an advertisement.

Adobe was not far behind Salesforce this year and unveiled its CDP at the Adobe Summit (2019) in conjunction with its Customer Experience Management Platform. This platform will also bring together data from numerous sources and activate them in real-time. It will allow for intelligent audience segmentation and decision-making. It is still unclear whether Adobe will have a direct integration with Google so advertisers can activate their data directly from the CDP and then buy media through external players like Google.

There are numerous other CDP solutions out in the market already that offer similar functionality to the anticipated products from Salesforce and Adobe but like most marketing technology, improvements are necessary to get the performance marketers are actually looking for. Now that we have bigger players entering the game, this is an inevitable change that will come.

Data Integration between channels and technology companies

Google is also making waves working with its unified view of the customer through their Google Marketing Platform to augment advertising. Google is uniquely positioned to already have a unified view due to its multiple online services (Gmail, Youtube etc.), so integrating the readily available data with a CDP makes for an unparalleled approach to marketing and advertising campaigns.

Earlier this year, Salesforce and Google released a connector between their platforms to allow data to flow between the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Salesforce Sales Cloud and Google Analytics 360. In a nutshell, this connector pipes audience data into Google Analytics 360 which then can be accessed by the media buying components of Google’s Marketing Platform. Most websites are using the free version of Google Analytics, but to use this connector the paid Google Analytics 360 version is required. Once the data is pushed into Google’s demand-side platform, Display and Video 360 media buyers can layer these data sets to buy media more efficiently and take personalized advertising and audience management to the next level.

Combining extremely powerful systems together gives marketers new insights into the full cycle of their customers — from their first touchpoints to conversion — using a combination of website and CRM data. “Marketer’s CRM data includes transaction and customer history data. That eliminates bots and other false signals that can be part of other data sets of less known origin.” Says Chris Williams, VP Digital at ACA.

Relevancy For Today’s Consumer

Modern-day consumers expect relevancy while still maintaining their privacy. They want marketers to know everything about them and use that information to provide them with relevant content when they are most receptive to it. CDPs will be able to link data together from multiple sources and cross-identify users, but also make it possible for the marketer to act on that data directly within the system in real-time.

Unfortunately, in today’s world with systems that are currently available, this kind of capability is at best cumbersome and often requires a ton of data cleansing to figure out. The need for marketers to deliver better, faster one-to-one engagement continues to increase and the fact they are a few steps closer to achieve with CDPs is truly exciting. It is what many marketers have been waiting for and were promised with data management platforms (DMPs).

Addressing Privacy Concerns

With all this talk around customer identity, privacy concerns are at the top of the priority list for marketers. Cookies have taken a beating in the last few years with governments starting to regulate. These products promise to identify a single customer across multiple platforms using a unique identifier usually linked to an email or unique customerID. Whether the CDP is the new cookie that will eventually get regu lated is still to be determined. Features in these CDPs will need to be adaptive based on the user’s location and differentiating privacy laws around the world to ensure customer privacy concerns are addressed from the beginning.

Digital Transformation and Marketing Maturity

Implementing a system as powerful as a CDP requires a high-level of marketing maturity within an organization. There is a lot of work that goes into preparing data and employees in order to get the most value out of a product like a CDP. It is important to assess your current capabilities and identify areas where you may need to improve or bring in a partner to help you get to where you need to be.

Native Integration Between Salesforce and Google Analytics 360

How MightyHive Can Help

MightyHive is a partner that has expertise in platform integration and data management. We have developed an in-depth marketing maturity assessment that will work to identify risks and areas of improvement. Our team of experts can help you create a roadmap to gain control of your data so you can be ready to execute the most advanced marketing journeys for your consumers.
To learn more about how MightyHive can help you activate a unified data and media strategy, please contact us.

Michelle Cunningham

Michelle Cunningham has over 10 years of digital media, marketing, and technology experience. She started her career as’s first employee, where she played an integral part in building its brand and online presence. Her work led to the company’s acquisition by CBS Interactive. Michelle continued on at CBS Interactive after the acquisition, spearheading advertising sales efforts in Canada for the Tech Games and Lifestyle Division. Eventually, she transitioned to Mediative, a performance marketing consulting agency, as a Senior Manager of Client Development. Recently, Michelle took on a new role with digital consultancy MightyHive as their Sales Director, overseeing the company’s expansion into Western Canada. At MightyHive, she empowers brands and agencies to take control of their marketing and advertising data while onboarding them to digital marketing and cloud platforms.