Forrester Consulting Opportunity Snapshot: CDPs Must Transcend Data Aggregation

Zeta Live: 5 Key Themes Shaping the Future of Marketing

From NFTs to first-party data to the Metaverse and everything in between, these are some of the most engaging themes that marketers can’t afford to ignore from Zeta Live ’21.

The industry’s most forward-thinking marketers and business leaders came together at Zeta Live ‘21 to discuss the evolution to a digital-first world as well as trending topics on the future of marketing.

From NFTs to first-party data to the Metaverse and everything in between, we’ve collected some of the conference’s most engaging themes that marketers can’t afford to ignore.

1. Ecommerce Enters the Experience Era

The last 20 years of ecommerce and the technological progress made within the industry have offered solely static experiences for consumers. The old ways of selling online no longer work and brands must adapt to reach consumers in new ways. Enter the “experience era.”

The experience era enables marketers to give consumers the branded experience they crave. In the What Comes Next for Social Commerce session, industry experts from Verishop, Snap Inc., ThirdLove, and Yahoo! explain what’s next, with emphasis on one-to-one interactivity, sustainability, the Metaverse, and livestream selling being the holy grails. 


From a retail perspective, Sydney Stinson Ferguson, VP of Marketing at Sunglass Hut North America, noted in Engaging the Connected Consumer how through experiences, the Luxottica brand has been able to become the destination for consumers through the campaign, “The Sun Within,” which helped consumers create their own happiness in their own environment (yoga, dance, etc on social media) and feel safe when coming back in store. All in all, a personalized experience at every step of the path to purchase is the expectation of tomorrow’s consumer.


2. Web 3.0, NFTs, and Blockchain Technology GoMainstream 

Web 3.0 represents the next iteration of the evolution of the internet as we know it. Built upon the core concepts of decentralization, openness, and great user utility, the real value coming out of web 3.0 will be blockchain. 

At the center of this blockchain technology now sits non-fungible tokens, better referred to as NFTs. In our session 2022: The Year NFTS Take the Mainstage, industry leaders from TIME and CNBC weighed in on the ability of crypto technology to create a new type of relationship with consumers through exclusivity. Michael Rubin, CEO of Fanatics, supported this positioning in his session on Sports Marketing in The Digital Era, sharing why he is launching NFT trading cards to strengthen the fan experience. While we’re still a few years out, NFTs and other Web 2.0 products platforms will inevitably disrupt the MarTech industry as we know it.


“In the digital world, there’s a voracious appetite to own. Values create value.”

 – Keith Grossman, President of TIME

3. The Next Wave of Customer Engagement in the Metaverse 

Despite an uptick in big news surrounding the Metaverse lately, the reality is that this shift to virtual experiences won’t come overnight. When (and if) this trend fully catches on, it will have been a long time coming — just as the concept of AR and VR have existed for years with slow adoption.

Bob Sherwin, CMO of Wayfair, noted in the session on The Future of Commerce & Creativity that the home-goods brand has offered these experiences to its shoppers for years. Yet, the question of ‘when do consumers want to engage with it?’ still remains.

So what can marketers do in the midst of the Metaverse boom? A wait-and-see approach will be what works best as all the kinks with technology and user experiences get worked out.


“I think the whole Metaverse thing is an eventuality. It’s just when will that happen, when will we be there? We’ll realize we’re there before it’s declared, then it will all continue to evolve.”

 – Bob Sherwin, CMO of Wayfair

We’re now gamifying the game. Fans want to be even closer to the game than they were.”

Jene Elzie, Chief Growth Officer, Athletes First Partners

4. Identity Plays A Pivotal Role in the Digital Economy

Identity-based marketing – especially through the use of first-party data – has become increasingly important as consumers accelerate their transition to digital for everyday conveniences, transactions, and social interactions.

In the session Navigating the Golden Age of Identity, marketing experts from Zeta, LiveRamp, AWS Data Exchange, and T-Mobile unpacked the significance of identity being the only thing that unifies the customer experience. Allan Samson, SVP, Marketing of T-Mobile, built upon this notion by recognizing that finding the right algorithm and the right hierarchy in a massive amount of data is key. 

The theme of identity was supported throughout other Zeta Live sessions as well. In Using Technology to Achieve Your 2022 Goals, leaders from G6 Hospitality, MGM Resorts International, and Christmas Tree Shops shared their teams’ best practices for using ID-based data and technology to activate segment-specific growth strategies.

But a successful future of data is more than just finding effective ways to activate personalized strategies. It’s just as important to leverage clean room technology to understand your customer in a privacy-first, secure way, as consumer consent expectations will continue to evolve.


“A clean room in a silo can’t be an input. It is a function of its own purpose, which we don’t see much of today.” 

Dennis Ellis, VP of Product, GM of Identity Infrastructure at LiveRamp


5. CDPs Become The Marketer’s North Star

Legacy technology systems no longer meet the needs of omnichannel orchestration in marketing. Whether it’s added complexity that slows down processes, or siloed processes that lead to mono-channels, marketers are breaking through these roadblocks by implementing a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to power their MarTech stack.

In the session Technology Bets for the Modern Marketer, industry experts from Carter’s, Email Connect, Healthgrades, and SIMON weigh in on the importance of having such a CDP platform at the core of their marketing infrastructure. With first-party data at the core, marketing teams can execute personalized, coordinated, omnichannel programs across the customer lifecycle. 

Zeta and Snowflake also announced a partnership and a new suite of joint offerings focused around first-party data and the Zeta CDP+. Brands will be able to enrich and integrate Snowflake records with the CDP to activate campaigns faster with more precision, a key factor in ensuring this trend is efficient and effective.


“Do I need a CDP and ESP? There are overlaps between CDP and enterprise ESP. You can very quickly over-platform. You’re paying more than you should be and building inefficiencies. My prediction is, these will eventually become one platform.”

 – Chris Marriott, President & Founder of Email Connect


Want more insights to inform your 2022 marketing efforts? 

Access all the Zeta Live ‘21 session recordings until December 17th by navigating to the “theater” area of our virtual experience here.

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