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When CRM meets Digital – this time for real


Anybody who has been in this business for long enough remembers the original hype cycle around how digital was the new frontier for direct marketers. I am talking circa 1998 here for those of you old enough to remember. Digital was going to finally elevate the lowly direct marketer to his/her proper place in the world order and bring accountable marketing to its rightful place in the C-suite conversation...yeah, not so much.

What we ended up with was a mass media dressed up in newer, shinier clothes – with a lot of talk around targeting and measurement, while in reality maintaining a completely old school planning and buying mentality. I love to tell my younger ad-tech savvy colleagues about how I did a digital media (banner to be precise) buy as a young account manager at iXL (what got rolled into Razorfish) in 1998 for my BellSouth client (remember the Bells?). Basically we were selling ISP service against AOL and wanted to target young, tech-savvy professionals who would pay for high speed DSL lines. I had lunch with the Weather Channel ad sales rep, who showed me a sheet PROVING that young, professional, tech-savvy people were the core of their audience and there was huge scale. Lunch at the Mesa Grill (Bobby Flay was new) was fantastic and I faxed in my IO the next week. Yup, we uploaded the creative to DFA and then moved onto something else I can’t remember and then lots and lots of ad network and guaranteed buying to fill out the budget…I am still working off those lunches on the treadmill 14 years later. And to be clear – I am like the embarrassing uncle telling the same old war story here and my adtech savvy friends want to crawl under the table when I tell this story to clients.

Fast forward all the way to 2008 and all of the incredible advances you assume must have happened to transform that primitive state – yeah, once again, not so much. Same thing. I am not kidding.

Now to the good news (sans the late ‘90s digital nostalgia…though that time really did rock if you were in the agency business, in your 20’s and in NYC)…fast forward to 2012 and things are changing and shifting towards that original vision in a BIG way. This is going to be a multi-part series on this topic but to provide a teaser here are the big headlines:,/p>

  • CRM has grown up and gotten more serious…we are out of the direct marketing phase and into the customer strategy phase, sitting squarely in the c-suite. Enterprise segmentation, customer value currencies, and cross-channel attribution are now the order of the day for CRM.

  • Adtech has brought us RTB, DMP, and social at scale…there is actually a platform now for accountable, individually targeted spend.

  • The CONNECTED data management platform (I don’t mean DMP in the narrow sense) is bringing these worlds together in a big way.

  • So now we are ready to realize the value we were talking about in 1998…

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