MarTech Interview with Eugene Becker, General Manager and Executive President of Global Data and Identity Products at Acxiom
To build out more strategic customer-centric marketing models, brands need different kinds of data to fuel their plans; Eugene Becker, GM and Executive President of Global Data and Identity Products at Acxiom shares some views:
Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Eugene, tell us about yourself and your journey through the years, we’d love to hear about your time at Acxiom…
Joining Acxiom was coming full-circle for me, as I started my agency career more than 15 years ago at McCann Worldgroup, a sister IPG company. An early believer in people-based marketing, I’ve had leadership roles that have often mirrored the growth of the big data ecosystem, emphasizing data, analytics, and identity.
I couldn’t think of a better time to be at Acxiom, a time when people-based data and identity are more critical than ever in what is a dynamic, often challenging, marketing ecosystem. I serve as Acxiom’s GM of Global Data and Identity Products. Everything my team develops is designed to help marketers use data and identity to overcome these challenges and deliver more relevant and engaging conversations with people by better understanding them, something which has always been at the heart of Acxiom.
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Acxiom has had a lot of exciting updates the past few months; we’d love to hear more about the key updates like the recent partnership with Adobe and how that will enable end-user needs?
In a nutshell, our strategy is about being open and connected. Brands need access to good, clean, reliable data no matter where they are interacting. Brands also need first-party identity solutions that bring together a cohesive picture of identity and understanding across tech stacks and platforms.
Our innovative partnership approach revolutionizes the data and identity model by placing the brand at the center, and all third-party data, tech, or identity providers become contributors to the brand’s own data and identity management. This allows brands to have complete control over their data and identity solution, and ultimately to create their own identity graphs, reducing reliance on third-party cookies across owned and paid media.
How in your view can marketers today drive better content engagement tactics to win the marketing game?
The marketing game is all about customer understanding. No matter the tactic, if you don’t understand your customers, and those you’d love to have as customers, your marketing is likely to fall short at best and risk alienating customers at worst.
I’d encourage marketers to think about the complete customer experience, not just a single interaction or channel. It starts with an enterprise data and identity strategy that accounts for customer insights and how to best put them to use. For example, when you think about identity, people have multiple interests and personas. You need to know which persona and interest is meaningful in the moment. People are dynamic, and your solutions should be as well.
What are some of the ways in which you’ve seen B2C marketing teams build exceptional experiences for their customers?
I think it goes back to being open and connected. We know that it’s unrealistic and unreasonable to expect brands to lean into a single channel or a single data source. Rather, they need to be able to connect all sources of insights – whether digital, offline or a combination. When brands do this, we see them improving everything from conversion rates to attribution models.
We’ve seen a major car manufacturer use a connected first-party identity graph to ensure they are delighting their customers by remembering them – connecting dealership and online experiences. We’ve seen a major financial institution use our first-party tag solution to understand their impressions and conversions across paid and owned media. Anything that focuses on customer understanding is a step in the right direction for marketers.
As the online marketplace starts becoming more complex and crowded, how can marketers make better use of identity solutions and data to understand their user better?
It’s easy to talk about identity solutions, but creating them takes real expertise. These are highly technical solutions. Challenge your organization to understand what data is available and recognize the opportunity to bring it together into a cohesive first-party identity graph designed just for the unique needs of your brand.
Also, map out experiences. If you’ve truly connected insights, you understand your customers’ in-the-moment needs. Are there new offers you may have never considered relevant? Are there new partnerships that now make sense? Are there new channels that perform now that you can truly measure? When you have a connected identity solution, it means it’s time to reimagine the possible. What once may have just been a good customer experience has the potential to become a great customer experience – one that moves beyond mere satisfaction to delight.
A few thoughts on how you feel martech as a segment will move in 2022?
As a segment, it’s noisy and it’s easy to get distracted. There’s an overabundance of chatter about the deprecation of the third-party cookie, which often serves more as a distraction than as a problem solver. I do think 2022 will be the year to solve identity in a way that has longevity and makes performance better for brands and experiences better for people.
It’s also important not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” New technologies have a role to play, but so do tried-and-tested marketing identifiers like email. It’s not always about invention of new but innovation of, and integration with, what we know works. It’s about finding a way to connect to real people. Martech that is grounded in a people-first approach is the only way forward.
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Some last thoughts, takeaways, digital marketing and martech thoughts, tips and best practices before we wrap up!
We’ve talked a lot about first-party data and identity, but there’s also a huge role for the use of ethically sourced, powerful partner data that can provide additional insights. Marketplaces are quickly becoming the norm and being offered by everyone from media companies to retailers. It’s critical for marketers to find partners they trust and use this data as supplement to their first-party data activities. Digital resilience is not about a single anything – data set, channel, identifier – rather it’s the ability to connect the disparate parts to make a cohesive whole that delivers for your brand and respects the people you serve.
For more than 50 years, Acxiom has helped brands make sense of fragmented data and changing technologies to drive greater reach, revenue, and return – all based on customer understanding. Today, Acxiom is the trusted advisor of hundreds of the world’s biggest brands.
Eugene Becker is the General Manager and Executive President of Global Data and Identity Products at Acxiom
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