Unlocking the potential of your ‘marketing cloud’

‘We have an obligation to keep the promise to consumers that their data will not be passed on, utilized, or re-directed. We’re working to keep that promise to consumers,’ – Nicole Keiter, director of media strategy and optimisation at Equifax.

Nicole is talking about a new business phenomena: Marketing Cloud Management. In the ever more complex world of marketing technology, the opportunities for driving return on investment are stronger than ever. At the same time, the risks to your business have also never been greater.

Several years ago, companies ran their websites with a site analytics tool, a content management partner and maybe a couple of ad technologies. Today, they are reliant on hundreds of technologies to power their online customer experience across many devices, geographies and platforms. In other words, you no longer have a website, you have a marketing cloud.

From data analytics tools, to optimisation tools, data collection, and social media technologies… the list of partners in the marketing cloud gets longer every day. Ghostery has counted more than 1,800 companies in the space. Each company has an ever-changing complexion of partners in this cloud. It comes from the biggest companies in the marketing technology space (Google, Adobe, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce) as often as it comes from smaller companies that enterprises may not know, and may not even have a direct relationship with!

> See also: Gartner survey reveals the digital marketing landscape

And, when you look at the situation as new business phenomena, you see that the needs of consumers and businesses are in fact aligned. In the same way that consumers need to control which technology companies are tracking them, the companies that own those websites where the tracking occurs have the exact same need – to control which vendors have access to consumer data on their websites and mobile apps.

Let me go a little deeper into the details of what Marketing Cloud Management is using an example of a fairly typical marketing cloud.

Telegraaf Media, the largest Media and Publishing company in the Netherlands, is relying on these technologies first and foremost to drive an outstanding user experience. It’s an old adage, but there’s never a good way to annoy someone into buying your product. That’s why undertaking a Marketing Cloud Management effort has made so much sense for leading companies like Procter & Gamble, Equifax and Telegraaf.

When the user experience is compromised, the numbers speak for themselves. Try these three statistics on for size:


  • $50 million in lost revenue for each extra second it takes for a leading retailer’s site to load
  • Data being sold to competitors. Top retailers use the same Marketing Cloud Vendors 72% of the time
  • Hundreds of hours of wasted time from lack of visibility. Without knowing who is in their cloud, sites cannot manage or optimise their vendor relationships


There’s good news for companies who are embracing this new discipline of Marketing Cloud Management. For example, Telegraaf Media, working with our Ghostery MCM technology, was able to identify and remove 72% of the technology on their sites from vendors they disapproved of, and set up a real-time alerting system to identify when companies they have blacklisted show up on their sites. This led to a 62% improvement in the performance of the marketing cloud technology on their sites.

Similarly, a leading US retailer was able to identify the advertising networks that were accessing their marketing cloud and using visitor data to power competitor marketing campaigns. Once they set a new and clear policy for how data can be collected and used from their marketing cloud, their data stopped leaking out to competitors and their conversions improved as a result.

> See also: Not one IT giant has a complete digital marketing platform: Ovum

Success in Marketing Cloud Management is a multi-step process to build the new discipline in your company:

Step 1 – Awareness – Audit the vendors to gain a real picture of your marketing cloud; benchmark your performance against industry best practices and against specific competitors; then remediate the obvious offenders who are compromising your user experience.

Step 2 – Achievement – Craft a Marketing Cloud Management strategy that is shared across the organisation and establish a culture of effective Data Governance. Essential to this success is setting up monitoring of your cloud, and creating automated alerts that can be shared across your enterprise, and incorporated into your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Step 3 – Optimisation – Use the findings from your Marketing Cloud Management process to maximise your performance against the competition; build an ongoing workflow to screen and hold each new marketing cloud vendor accountable to your data governance requirements; and coordinate across your company on new investments, especially those on emerging platforms like mobile, video and wearable computing.

Gaining control of this new phenomenon is essential for any business that values the online channel. Our work with more than 50 leading retailers, travel bookers, FMCG brands and publishers over the past year has shown significant benefits. The marketing cloud isn’t going away. It will continue to get more complex as marketers become more sophisticated in leveraging data across devices and utilise proprietary and off-line data sets. There’s never been a better time to take control of your marketing cloud than right now.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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