I’m the first to admit – we overuse the word ‘experience’ in our industry. Of course, we’re not the only ones at fault; every sector is seemingly trying to outdo one another in the race to find new and increasingly inventive ways to connect to consumers today.

Traditional marketing methods have given way to an abundance of digital channels that need to be constantly monitored and optimized to yield the expected results. Along with this shift, we’ve seen the way we communicate move from telling users a story to crafting a creative that is designed to stoke an emotive reaction as well. Welcome to the age of experience. 

There’s nothing wrong with placing experiences on a pedestal of course, as long as you can deliver on providing the user with a point of difference. The UX is now so ingrained in all of our planning, strategizing and execution that sometimes we forget how quickly users can get bored or jaded with the amount of information they receive daily; multiple messages on multiple platforms from multiple brands – it’s enough to make anyone want to switch off.

Connecting with consumers for the long-term means context and relevance, something which tailored and targeted experiences can deliver. It’s not enough to just pay lip service to this either, we need to use all the tools at our disposal to utilize data effectively to actually create personalized communications that will resonate, time after time.

The march towards digitization has played its part in elevating experiences for the user today, no-one is arguing that, but it’s how we take things to the next level, using new technology to power this new wave of personalization, which is of interest. We’re already moving past established mar-tech solutions, such as Content Management Systems (CMS) and developing Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) that can make such a shift possible.

Flexibility, the cornerstone of any fledgling technology, is imperative in allowing the integration of these multiple digital platforms in one place. For DXPs to truly be successful, they need to be intuitive and multifunctional, allowing marketers to keep apace with changing consumer habits, as well as helping to shape other areas of the business, such as streamlining operational capabilities and making full use of the data analytics provided. Where companies may still silo data per department, embedding a DXP in the current set up would allow a 360 overview to analyze this information, identify any learnings and make relevant changes to improve efficiency overall.

The evolution of such technology, particularly when it comes to the advertising world cannot be underestimated, especially given the increasing importance placed on personalization, and both cost and operational efficiencies in business. DXPs have the ability to deliver on all three, evolving in line with the ever-changing digital channels and touchpoints that will only become further augmented in the approaching 5G-powered era.

There are two ‘E’s’ we should focus our attention on today: experience and engagement. One cannot exist or thrive without the other, and both play a role in the success or failure of every campaign we execute. Campaigns have to be multi-layered, building on previous data to both conceptualize and then deliver the right kind of creative at the right time and to the right person.

It’s not enough to send something into the ether and wait and see, especially when the measure of success is now defined by engagement. How users interact with the experience you are providing them is crucial and if the next generation of DXPs deliver on their promised potential, then brands could begin to challenge the stronghold that Facebook and Google currently have in this space.

These walled gardens may have seemed impenetrable until now, but with the arrival of Amazon into the ad-tech space, it’s not inconceivable to see a crack appearing in the walls of this duopoly, and brands may well be able to use the might of their own DXP to leverage consumer data to their advantage.

Amazon have been smart about their move into this sector, quietly building on their offering and (less quietly) acquiring Simzek’s ad-tech stack in a bid to go head-to-head with Google. Surprised that Facebook doesn’t factor in more heavily? Ultimately, it comes down to scale and the multiple streams of each business that pit Amazon and Google directly against each other, both vying to become the definitive powerhouse of this millennium.

It’s a battle that won’t be won overnight, but with Amazon’s completed purchase of an ad server and DCO unit, combined with their current DSP and exclusive search tool offering, they are ready to compete on an even footing. We may see clients, who up until now have resisted big tech, decide to shift their budgets to Amazon as a result, taking full advantage of the e-commerce platform’s wealth of transactional data and new heightened targeting capabilities.

When you stop and think about it, that’s ultimately what we’re looking at here; the race to build the most effective technology offering that combines effective data with personalized creative. Where DXPs come into play is in making us more proficient, offering independent vendors a new way to connect with their consumers at scale with an increasingly tailored proposal.

The buzzwords of this technological age may appear clichéd at times, but that doesn’t mean they don’t warrant a serious place in today’s discussions. Data, in much the same vein, shouldn’t be categorized in terms of collection only – we should already be thinking ahead to how we can use it to get the best possible outcome.

Creating a truly personalized experience is a craft, one that can’t just be done by a creative mind alone; you need the insight and analysis provided by data. Technology will forever be the enabler in helping us do our jobs better, but it still must answer a need, something which DXPs could well be capable of delivering on…

Written by Nader Bitar
Deputy General Manager