The Road to People-based Marketing is Filled with Potholes

by MarTech Maven

Arguably one of the hottest trends in marketing, people-based marketing originated from Facebook, announced as a new concept in September of 2014 thanks to its Atlas ad server (which Facebook acquired just a year earlier from Microsoft, who a few years earlier acquired via its acquisition of aQuantive). At the time, people-based marketing primarily translated to moving from targeting anonymous cookies and devices, and rather use a persistent ID that transcended cookies and devices to represent a person—one who consumed content across many browsers and devices. 

As it gained in popularity and more companies promoted the notion of people-based marketing, it evolved to mean essentially what Don Peppers and Martha Rogers wrote about two decades ago in their seminal book The One to One Future. The authors wrote of a future of when the combination of technology, data and marketing expertise would power the transition from mass marketing to marketing to individuals, being able to understand and customize messaging based on who they are, how they think and what they buy.

While the prospect was exciting for us marketers—especially those involved in direct marketing, as I was at that time—the reality is the state of technology and data in 1996 simply didn’t make it practical. But that’s not the case today. Today it’s not only possible but leading marketers are starting to implement it.

Which means you may be one of the many marketers attempting to transition from cookie-based marketing to people-based marketing . If so, chances are you are somewhere on the road to people-based marketing, since few companies have fully implemented it at this point. And whether you are still evaluating or three-quarters of the way toward completing your implementation plan, you should expect to encounter some potholes along the road to people-based marketing. Knowing what they are and planning for them can make for a smoother ride.

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