Justin DeBrabant, ActionIQ: “Embrace the big trends”

“Embrace the big trends”

Our industry is constantly evolving, changing, and shifting, now more than ever. AI, retail media, and data clean rooms are some of the exciting trends and technologies reshaping the data-driven advertising ecosystem. A challenge with emerging technologies however, is to agree on clear standards and definitions.

In the latest episode of our Identity Architects podcast, InfoSum's VP, Business Development, Valerie Mercurio, sat down with Justin DeBrabant, SVP, Product at ActionIQ, to discuss data privacy, identity, the value exchange, and much more.

“You have to embrace the big trends that are happening [...]. It's just something that, as vendors, we have to do. We have to embrace the term that everybody is coalescing around but then the challenge is really differentiating [your company from it].”

Absolutely. You have to embrace the trends or risk being left behind. We are seeing this play out in the industry around privacy. It’s great to see organizations develop privacy-preserving solutions, but not all are the same and often solve for different challenges. It’s also no different in the CDP market. Communicating your USP, the ways you are different, as well as your focus and values is challenging:

“There's just so many competing definitions and I don't think that there's ever been a category that was this mature, this established, this hot right now that still really didn't have a well-defined. categorization of some of the vendors. [...] There's not a source of truth for enterprises to look to and say okay, here's the leaders in this type of CDP versus this, and I'm already talking about different types because there's nuances, right? And it creates a lot of confusion and a lot of noise, and as a vendor it becomes difficult to cut through that noise and then as a buyer, it's just overwhelming.”

This lack of one true definition creates confusion within and outside the industry, making it difficult to determine what technology each company needs to solve its specific problem. This is especially important when you consider that many companies are still figuring out their first-party data strategy.

“Brands cannot look to replace what they did in the past with new technologies. There's not going to be a one-for-one mapping where they just swap out acronyms. [...]. It doesn't work like that. There needs to be a shift in strategy. And I don't think everybody fully recognizes that or acknowledges that and so sometimes they're just looking for the next thing to fit in the exact slot that existed before. And I think that's the wrong approach. If brands try to do that then in two or three years they're going to be going through this whole process again as the technology and the privacy landscape shifts once more.”

So, from ActionIQ’s perspective, what can we do to help make it easier?

“The thing I always try to focus on when we are talking with clients and prospective clients or when I'm talking on industry panels, I really encourage people to start with the problems internally. Don't go try to buy a solution when you haven't really even defined the problems that you're trying to solve internally. [...] It's not just about the technology. It's again, the people, process, technology, and the organization around it, that is going to be necessary to probably solve that gap and make this overall project successful. So you need to identify those before you then go and say you want to buy a CDP, and we've seen the most success when brands have done a lot of that upfront work.”

Music to our ears. It is important to first understand your challenges internally before assessing which solution will help you solve those needs. Another aspect of this is having a first-party data strategy that ensures the consumer is central to it all - being more aware of what’s happening with their data.

“Certainly, there's been a lot of progress lately in how you know products and services are using people's data and making them opt into that. But it's very kind of generic transparency right now. And the flip side of that transparency, I think there needs to be a better awareness on the consumer side on the value that they're getting from these products by sharing their data. And that's where you see still a very big gap. People assume that this brand is collecting my data and they're doing bad things with it. Well you know they're helping give you a better experience in their products and services and that's a value exchange.”

So, what needs to change?

“I don't think people realize how much these tech companies’ commercial and business models were based on leveraging data and that's not necessarily a bad thing right? So consumers need to raise their level of awareness and realize that actually my data is valuable and if there's an exchange of value for products and services that I'm using and I'm able to give them my data that's valuable for that company and I get to use a product that I care about that is essentially like paying a subscription fee for that product and I might prefer that right? And so I think we need to get to this more nuanced transparency on the brand and product side but then also more nuanced awareness and understanding on the consumer side that data is an asset. And sharing it with the right companies is not a bad thing, it's part of the currency that drives the internet and all the products and services that are built on that at least right now.”

100% agree. Data empowers organizations to deliver personalized and seamless experiences, which consumers increasingly expect as table stakes. But with so much damage done to consumer trust in the past, this data must be used responsibly. As an industry, we have a lot of work ahead of us to rebuild trust, educate consumers even further and help them understand what’s happening with their data and why.

“It comes back to being an exchange of value right? And it really is a transaction and if people were to go and pay a dollar for something or use Apple Pay to pay for something in a store, they understand that that's an exchange. And whatever they're getting is presumably worth what they're paying for. I don't think people view sharing their data in the same way. And I think we need to get to that level of understanding again. Both the brands and the consumers.”

So true. Thanks, Justin, for the chat!