Getting Personal with Europe’s Online Marketing and eCommerce Community

Data, personalization, programmatic, customer journey - for a good online marketing adrenaline rush, read on.

June was a big month for Europe’s digital marketers and online retailers. With PMI Europe in Berlin and eTail Europe in London happening at the same time, two major conferences gathered thought leaders from across the continent. Among them: our Sociomantic teams from Germany and the UK.

Here’s what we learned about the rapid developments and latest trends in eCommerce and online marketing.

PMI Europe, Berlin (June 24-25)

Formerly known as a4u expo – an affiliate-focused conference and exhibition – this year’s Performance Marketing Insights event focuses on the bigger picture of performance-oriented online marketing across channels. Although there were still many affiliate representatives attending the show, the trends we observed in the affiliate industry clearly mirrored the development in programmatic display. RTB, new technologies, real-time marketing, CRM and Customer Lifetime Value – we’ve been sharing the gospel of these advances in performance marketing few years now, and are excited to see that today that the industry at large is also starting to align on these topics. This was evident in how affiliates showed themselves to be expanding product portfolios to tap new revenue and inventory sources while (re-)positioning themselves as a more flexible intermediary players between clients and technology providers.

Advertisers were clearly outnumbered by the variety of affiliates, networks, agencies, technology vendors and CRM system providers, but other disciplines like SEM, SEO and price comparison services were underrepresented, too. Nevertheless the event managed to create a buzzing hub of online marketing professionals to fuel the exchange about the future of our increasingly complex, ever-changing media ecosystem. Which business models will we be working with in the future? How will advertisers, affiliates and technology vendors collaborate? What will real-time advertising look like in a data-driven, multi-screen world?

Cross-channel Personalization: The True Story from

Challenging questions. Lothar Krause, VP Global Advisory Services and Markus Winter, CMO of Internetstores accepted the challenge in their talk, Turning Eyes Into Buys With Personalization on all Devices. It was an honor to have Markus join us on stage — in fact it was the only presentation supported by an advertiser — to share real-world retail insights. For example, Markus shared that Internetstores already generates 20 percent of their traffic through mobile devices. More good news for the mobile skeptics out there: its net revenues per visitor are increasing too, allowing Internetstores to benefit from improved efficiency and extended reach.

Another success factor for Markus and his team has been personalization. Website recommendations, newsletters, display advertising – Internetstores uses all these channels to provide personalized communications for increased value and relevance. This will be even more important in the future. In the conclusion of the presentation Markus and Lothar agreed that in order to stay ahead of the game, online marketers will have to work towards true 1:1 marketing at scale with personalized messaging and pricing strategies, focusing on the three dimensions of the customer lifetime value (CLV) rather than on short-term transactions.

With this combination of real-life advertiser insights and global cross-industry perspectives from our Advisory team, we managed to hit the sweet spot between theory and practice as the feedback from our audience confirmed. The other speakers also addressed many related topics that have been keeping online marketers up at night for years: overcoming data silos, connecting CRM and online marketing for better platform integration, avoiding the pitfalls and leveraging the benefits of attribution logics, taking optimization to the next level with customer lifetime value (CLV), investing in new key technologies like fingerprinting methods – it was great to see how well the key topics of this event resonated with our own perspective of the market and the strategies that we’ve been pursuing over the past two years. When it comes to CRM and attribution, for example, we started addressing the challenges and opportunities as early as 2011.

eTail Europe, London (June 23-25)

etail_europe_2014Nearly 800 delegates visited Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster from June 23rd-25th for eTail Europe. Senior-level advertisers attended on behalf of a wide spectrum of industries: apparel, accessories, sporting goods, luxury, department stores and more. While best practices were shared from different stages and a number of stands invited discussions on innovative tech, the conference remained devoted to providing private in-depth conversations between e-commerce professionals. We were happy to converse with interested prospects, inquiring minds and other tech vendors.

The dialogue at eTail — whether in person, on stage, or even in-passing — focused on the customer: how to effectively target the customer; how to leverage IT infrastructure to get a full understanding of the customer; or how responsive design speaks to the customer, amongst other topics. Our own Gavin Wilson, MD Northern & Southern Europe, addressed a customer-centric marketing plan in his Innovation Spotlight presentation.

Interestingly, as buzzword-worthy as the 360-degree view of the customer seemed to be throughout the event, not as many speakers seemed ready to delve into deeper narratives about how data can enable this precise and perfect level of personalisation for the customer along his or her journey. From our perspective, the future of personalization is dependent on leveraging programmatic wherever possible: programmatic buying, programmatic messaging and programmatic segmentation.

Gavin’s Innovation Spotlight raised five programmatic trends noted for 2014. Given the short presentation timeframe, he concentrated on three (CRM and loyalty; mobile and web-to-store).

Focusing on the importance of CRM and loyalty within programmatic highlighted brand engagement and affinity. Essentially, it’s about creating brand ambassadors out of a customer. Gavin asked, “What price would you pay for a new customer?” Presumably, most marketers in the audience could picture a number quite clearly; he asked another question. “But what price would you pay for a loyal and returning customer – one that comes back not once, but over and over?”

He touched on what everyone had been saying throughout the conference. Personalised messaging – targeted ads – work. However, taking it a step further, he recalled the days gone past of rudimentary retargeting based on cookie alone. Thanks to a programmatic ethos of highly personalized and highly relevant messaging, the days of blanket targeting are long gone. Or at least they should be, given that retailers are sitting on a wealth of first-party data assets (CRM data), which can enable them to speak on a one-to-one basis with any valuable customer or potential customer.

Gavin also raised findings we’ve uncovered from our research on mobile-shopping behavior. We, as consumers, may be browsing on our mobile as we rise in the morning, followed by clicking away on a desktop at work and then, later in the evening, on our tablets. How much time we spend on our mobile or tablets, and how we shop on the move, indicate a need for a smooth, information-fuelled brand journey across devices. Programmatic methods help to establish this. Last but not least are the shifts from web-to-store, and store-to-web. After all, shopping offline is no longer detached from online activity. The trends we discovered point to how programmatic — the notion of smart data fuelling how media is bought — assists offline sales.

The lesson learned? Connect the dots between online and offline to achieve a 360-degree, actionable perspective of the customer. Yes, it sounds similar to what delegates may have heard Days 1, 2 or Day 3 of eTail Europe. Assuredly, we’ve sung this tune prior to eTail Europe’s arrival at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.