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I had a random thought at the end of 2019 that we will enter a tag-less world. Enter 2020 the world goes flat. The whole industry is on a fight to prove its value, budgets are cut, the 3rd party cookies are on oxygen, there is a whole load of redundancies and in-housing capabilities have been accelerated.

The main reason I thought about a tag-less world, putting the customer at the heart of it all it is what marketing should be about: The best marketing strategies comes from using data smartly, understanding the customer, creating emotional creative, building memory structures and nailing the customer experience. This is what drives profitability. Brands need to focus on two simple areas being customer and data centric. Tags are irrelevant in a customer and data centric world.

We have got into a frenzy around tags with the explosion of Tag Managers. I am a big fan of tag managers; they play a significant role in the ecosystem. Since the explosion of TMS it has allowed the AdTech and Martech vendors to make it extremely easy to deploy a tag without thinking. This is one of my biggest bugbears, from tag manager audits I have done they are truly not given any love at all.  Deploying a tag could have huge consequences in a privacy world we live in now. Let’s make it clear that tagging is not going to help with measurement or help prove ROI. Tagging becomes a means to an end.

With the growth of the core tools such as Python, Customer Data Platforms, Data Lakes, Data Warehouses and Data Clean Rooms, the capabilities around machine learning are growing fast that can help answer key business questions. None of them need a single tag deployed. This is the future.

There will still be tags to activate a campaign from an ad-server to conversion tags. With the changes in legislation, we are moving away from ‘tagging’ becoming a core part of the data conversation. The data world has exploded with free data available, data collected from tech vendors, customer research data and customer sales data. Brands are in a strong position where they have rich data to harness.

Developing a marketing data and tech ecosystem that caters to being customer and data centric becomes a necessity for brands in todays world. Most data and tech ecosystem are not catered to deliver against business objectives. In most cases the ecosystem becomes a cost and a hindrance to the business.

When building out the ecosystem and trying to prove the value of each tech there are 4 steps to focus on:

  • Identify as many use cases mapping it from efficiency to revenue and low to high
  • The impact it will have on the business, not only on marketing.
  • How does it integrate with other tech?
  • Are there any overlaps with other tech in the stack?

With the core tools this is how I see them integrated part of a marketing data & tech ecosystem.

A plug and play ecosystem are the future building around the core tech provides agility and flexibility to work with data & tech partners at any point in the journey. The ecosystem becomes very data centric and what it should allow measurement to be at the forefront that is bespoke and unique to the business model. It should allow creativity to thrive and measure the impact that it has on the brand.

The plug and play ecosystem will help combat the loss of cookies with customer data being the heartbeat of the ecosystem. The customer data platform provides a single customer view with the ability to activate on the insights generated. Data lake and Data warehouse provides ownership and control over data with flexibility over analysis. Data clean rooms has got more attraction of late in a privacy world of a decentralized clean room. Providing huge opportunities of being able to share data in a controlled manner. This will allow brands to start forging 2nd data partnerships which could open more doors. Python the options are endless in what you can do, it can enhance or compliment your data strategy. Before adding additional tech to the ecosystem, selecting the right platform as the Single source of truth is fundamental to help prove the value of your marketing and how it integrates with the wider ecosystem is critical.

With the evolution of business models, growth of technology and data, brands will need to think about what their data strategy is. The best data strategy is when it is driving long-term business growth and it helps define what the business strategy should be.

I still believe that in the new world of marketing we can live without tags. The end-to-end customer experience becomes core to the whole strategy and having the right data & tech ecosystem to support to drive the business forward.