Getting real about personalization at scale

Dentsu discusses personalization at scale through the lens of unified customer profiles, identity data and content production.

In 2020, 75 percent of U.S. consumers changed their shopping habits and tried new brands. That means they were open to ads from those brands, shopped, considered, sampled, test-drove, free-trialed, and/or dipped their toes in the water of new experiences with brands that were new to them. These ‘moments of truth’ were and are opportunities for brands to create connections with new customers like never before, and has only increased the need for brands to make those experiences as relevant and personal as possible.

As marketers in the industrial age, we used to conceive the customer journey as a brand-driven, linear, funnel-shaped trajectory starting with awareness and consideration, then moving to intent as consumers flocked to the store to make their purchases, ultimately becoming advocates based on their satisfaction with products. The digital revolution transformed our notion of how shopping occurs across multiple channels and on multiple devices, with enhanced availability and accessibility of competitive products and services informing a shift to a customer-led market. Now, with the way our day-to-day has changed, it is hard to define what is “market” and what is not. As consumers, we carry out commercial activities in a stop and go fashion, often intersecting or overlapping them with unrelated activities tied to work, family, personal well-being and entertainment. And the number of devices and channels we interact with has grown in a correspondingly exponential way as well.

Data deprecation, digital disruption and operational stagnation stand in the way

In this context, personalization is more important than ever to ensure your brand interactions are given the proper attention — most consumers would happily share some information with brands in order to gain a more tailored online experience. It is no longer enough to target content for a segment of the audience or a stage of the journey. Consumer expectations and competitive dynamics demand experiences that are truly tailored to each individual at any given moment.

At the same time, it may appear harder to achieve this than ever before. Not only is there more competition for attention on digital channels, but also more organizational challenges created by the very opportunity that this increase in online engagement provides. More customers interacting with your brand on a growing number of channels means more data from potentially disjointed sources and the need for a lot more tailored content delivered to a galaxy of destinations.

A lot of organizations are struggling to make this work, paralyzed by the very urgency that is driving them to make this a priority. Even those who are already on the path of delivering personalized interactions are now burdened by challenges created by the scale at which they are now demanded to execute: elevating personalization from single-channel A/B testing into the operating principle that informs how you engage customers across the entire enterprise.

Additional challenges such as privacy regulations, the death of third-party cookies, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and the emergence of cloud platforms, are causing a shift in the way marketers approach customer-centricity, and now add to the set of challenges enterprises need to overcome as they plan their customer experience transformation.

Unifying data is the key to creating serendipitous moments

However, the most evolved technology platforms in market are enabling us to craft solutions that address this complexity. The key to delivering personalization in today’s blurred digital ecosystem is identifying individuals and layering their online behaviors into a living, breathing, real-time customer profile.

In order to do personalization at scale, companies need a real-time customer profile that harvests all digital signals from an individual consumer. Building these customer profiles while honoring privacy is easier said than done, as few systems are built with an adherence to privacy by design, nor can they provide data governance across the entire stack of systems used by the enterprise to power customer experiences.

As brands are increasingly determined to bring together that sought-after 360° view of the customer, Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) have risen to enable that goal. But the effectiveness and reach of activations and decisioning orchestrated by CDPs and other experience platforms remain dependent on the quality, accuracy, and resiliency of the data that informs these profiles.

Serious personalization ambitions need scalable content production

Once brands have a modern customer identity capability within the enterprise, and the ability to activate that identity “in the moment”, the stage is set to deliver real, human, personal experiences. Only one thing remains: having the content to do so. Brands are faced with a content-at-scale challenge, fraught with volume, velocity, and adaptability issues. The Adobe State of Creativity and Marketing Collaboration survey shows that it takes 12 days on average to take a single piece of content to market.

Brands aiming to deliver personalization at scale realize the need to mature their content capabilities through a new combination of skills, workflows, and technologies. Having an enterprise “content stack” that supports many personalized experiences — advertising, engagement, commerce, customer service, and loyalty — is critical to success. Brands must Inject centralized (and collaborative) content orchestration, asset control and security in a platform powered by technologies dedicated to the creation, management and delivery of experiential content.

Few need to be convinced that personalization is a critical aspect of customer experience — it is now an industry standard brands have been working at for several years. However, delivering personalization at scale, orchestrated across many moments, channels, and devices — and in a cookie-less world — is something entirely different. Those brands who invest the resources in getting this right will find happier customers, and more of them. Now is the time to act.

Visit the dentsu showcase at Adobe Summit to learn more about how our solutions can help brands enhance customer profiles with identity data and build a scalable content production engine.