The arrival of martech was heralded as the next stage of marketing. These platforms enabled marketers to gather endless reams of data so they could reconfigure their approach and boost their conversions. The theory was that the better businesses got to know their customers, the more appealing they could make their offers.

What actually happened was that businesses gathered an overwhelming amount of data — and had a hard time determining what was truly valuable. “Companies began collecting all sorts of data because they quite frankly didn’t know what may end up being useful — or when or how!” Karl Van den Bergh, chief marketing officer at data platform DataStax, said. “Many went overboard in collecting data that has since proved meaningless to improve customer experience, expand markets or offer new services.”

Martech and its massive data load have created undue complexity around identifying consumer preferences and intent. Every brand has the opportunity to use its digital spend to get closer to its customers, but most aren’t taking advantage of it. Declared data platform Jebbit thinks the key lies in what martech isn’t doing: building a relationship with the customer.

Behavior Doesn’t Necessarily Indicate Intention
Jebbit’s co-founders, CEO Tom Coburn and president Jonathan Lacoste, realized that martech was adding layers to what marketers needed to know: How do we understand customers’ motivations and anticipate their needs? Martech platforms were assembling large quantities of transactional data; while it was firsthand information, it left a lot of holes to be filled.

Marketers, after all, knew when a customer purchased something, how much he paid, and what the product was. But they didn’t know why he bought the item or what the likelihood was that he would do it again. “Instead of simply asking a consumer what he wanted, we captured as much data as we could about what he did to try to predict what he might want next,” explains Coburn. “Marketers were overburdened and their processes were overcomplicated to make them think they needed tech they didn’t to solve a problem with a simple solution: Ask the consumer what he wants.”

It may not be surprising, then, that the idea underpinning Jebbit — to speak to the consumer directly — came from two founders outside the industry. Coburn and Lacoste, realizing that most marketers today rely on third-party data, researched the inaccuracies of third-party data and the problems associated with capturing information from consumers themselves. Most online options weren’t engaging, simply asking consumers to fill in dots to win a shot at a prize; offline methods, like focus groups, faced the challenge of people falling into groupthink. And, perhaps most importantly, scale was an issue: Everyone is trying to achieve the holy grail of 1:1 marketing, but businesses can’t do that on an insight or inference from a focus group that’s applied to a whole external audience.

One-on-one questions and interactions, however, don’t incentivize bad information — there’s no one to impress and no potential prize to lose. What’s at stake, however, is more of what consumers don’t want: products missing crucial features or ads showcasing items the consumer will never buy again. Jebbit’s team looked for ways to gather information that felt informative, not invasive; they knew that allowing consumers to opt in would enable the brand to capture psychographic information in an honest manner. And with that trust, its platform can ask questions to get to the underlying motivations of any purchase a consumer has made or plans to make.

“In reality, the data most martech platforms offer is based on the past or the present,” Coburn explains. “It doesn’t deal in the future; it doesn’t ask people what they’ll do next. So martech has lulled marketers into thinking they’re focusing on the future when they’re really working in the past.”

Why Declared Data Stands to Change the Data Vendor Landscape
Jebbit’s focus on declared data, or data actively provided by consumers, envisions a future in which marketers have less data, but the data they have is high-quality. By eliminating concerns related to data misappropriation, the platform aims to create a transparent experience that delivers personalized offers and content to consumers.

Jebbit recently ran a small consumer study to assess how accurate consumers felt the data marketers were using to feed them offers was. The result? Not too accurate. That hurt their trust in those brands, and it ensured neither side of the equation was getting what it wanted. Coburn says that declared data’s strength comes from two factors: how it collects information and what it answers.

“Brands can ask anything they want to know or see value from,” he says. “For example, if Southwest is asking what type of traveler you are, Southwest can capture that from an interactive mobile-first web experience, resulting in personalized ads later. Behavioral data infers, and this method gets rid of that unnecessary complexity by letting brands engage personally with customers.” Not only does that give brands information to activate in the future, but it also enables them to directly influence the affinity a consumer has for the brand.

Jebbit’s worked with brands like Cathay Pacific Airways. Cathay Pacific Airways ran several Jebbit experiences to capture where visitors might want to go next to give them personalized sets of routes Cathay Pacific runs. The airline went beyond consumers’ searched destinations into discovery. By combining recommendations with personalized offers, the company saw increased consideration.

“Declared data takes really simple data points that have traditionally been hard to scale at large,” Coburn explains, “and makes those points relevant. It creates a competitive data set, and it allows the brand to build its own differentiated first-party data. It puts the money-making power back in brands’ hands.”

Martech may have been viewed as the savior of marketing, enabling the art of marketing to meet with science. But martech platforms have provided so much data that they may have become a hindrance rather than a help. Declared data looks to simplify what’s become overly complicated and make consent-based marketing the rule, not the exception.

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.