The AEP Mindset

The evolution of the analytics industry has taken us through some fascinating transitions. Specifically AEP has introduced a new paradigm in digital marketing. As a marketing cloud leader, it is a model for how these SaaS products should be packaged. With that said, a new tool paradigm inherently means we have to change the way we think. I’ve already written an AEP dictionary because… conceptually, it’s a little nebulous.

People seem to have a solid grasp of the products that sit on top of AEP, but I’ve noticed people still have a very traditional mindset. AEP is the best marketing suite because it challenges that mindset. Allow me to explain.

Traditional Mindset

In a world where one of the most anticipated releases of the year was CMO’s Jackson Pollock of MarTech companies, we’ve gotten addicted to 1:1 tool:function ratio. There are certainly more than 11,000 tools at this point. That means you design architecture specific to a tool. That tool typically has 1 function (yes, I know there are outliers). What’s great about these tools is they do one thing really well – you know, if you match the architecture. I guarantee these tools have integrations, but that’s literally an afterthought. You have to figure out how to accommodate the data from other sources to the platform.

Even in Adobe’s OG Marketing Cloud stack – you have these tools that are often difficult to stitch together, like Adobe Analytics to Campaign; or connecting anything to Target. Google Analytics’ biggest value proposition was its integration with Google Ads. It’s a huge value proposition – but if you want to hook it into a complete CDP, experimentation, or BI tool, you’ll need a lot of elbow grease.

I think you get the point. I think you’re also anticipating me talking about how AEP has all of those products in one. If that’s your takeaway, you’re still missing the point.

AEP Mindset

The most common questions I answer nowadays are as follows:

Will this work for RTCDP?

Is this compatible with CJA?

Can we make extra plans to incorporate AJO?

These are great questions for a traditional mindset. In the AEP world, the only question you need to answer is:

Will the data in AEP be architected with our users in mind?

We’re designing our architecture around AEP – and there’s a right and wrong way to do it. When executed correctly, you don’t have to think about whether it works for CJA, RTCDP, AJO, or any other tool in the AEP box.

So what you’re saying, Jim, is all you have to do is implement it the right way and it won’t be wrong? Thanks.

Well, yes… but let’s pull back a little bit. It’s more than just “do it right”. Let’s make a small, incomplete checklist:

  • Define profile IDs
  • Create an intuitive schema
  • Send data that doesn’t suck
    • Consistent
    • Adheres to schema
    • Preferably more than just pageviews

This seems pretty boilerplate; but if you can check these boxes then you’ve unlocked the rest of the tools in AEP. Congrats. With any other tool, if you aren’t checking the last box then you’re screwed. The first 2 boxes are part of the new paradigm. It’s not because it’s conceptually NEW (it’s not even close). It’s because historically, as a marketing analyst, you could get away with not focusing on this. Sure, you probably collected an ID, but then you’d have to figure out how to pipe it to 20 different places. Its endpoint would then have to figure out WTF to do with it.

In AEP, do it the right way up-front and you don’t have to think about it.

Final Thoughts

This is a unique perspective coming from a major marketing cloud player (mostly comparing Google and Adobe). Google has all of the functionality of Adobe’s cloud, but the workflow is packaged differently. That’s the biggest, most impactful differentiation.¬†With AEP, you are practically forced to think about what you want to do with the data downstream. Adobe is solving for people instead of only technical capability.

Bottom Up vs Top Down

The workflow makes all the difference. And that’s a good thing. We can’t think of data like a pipe that starts with the website and then cascades into a data lake where you’re forced to figure out what the hell to do with it. AEP forces you to think about the big picture and then makes its activation completely seamless. There’s no DESIGNING for CJA, AJO, or RTCDP. There’s just designing for AEP.

As we depart the traditional mindset and migrate to the new paradigm, we aren’t just evaluating technical capabilities. We’re evaluating their compatibility with the people who will use them. So far the AEP mindset seems to take a much more intuitive path.

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