CDP Helps Ancestry Improve Data Oversight

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

AncestryPutting a customer data platform (CDP) in place is helping Ancestry improve its view of customer data from numerous sources and channels.

Ancestry began in 1983 as a publishing company, offering physical books of genealogy records. In 1996, the company moved online with its first website, where people could order CD-ROMs of their family information. In 2012, the digitized version of Ancestry launched, followed by the DNA product in 2015. Today, the company has three million subscribers, and 15 million consumers in its DNA network. It’s files include 100 million family trees and 20 billion historical records.

Creating an organized approach to its data flow was a challenge. Data had been collected in numerous ways and stored in multiple platforms, including the website, transactions, the CRM systems, subscribers for family tree products and other channels.

Much of the technology fueling the legacy systems was antiquated, and the company wanted to create more value for customers. “We were lacking the ability to bring data back in to inform marketing decisions and improve the customer journey,” says Jonathan Roman, global lead of data and technology at Ancestry.

The multitude of data sets coming in from different sources slowed down the brands ability to do agile testing, he adds. “We had the data, but the challenge was activating it. Could we do it ourselves as marketers, or did we need to rely on other teams? Marketers want to move fast.”

Working with different teams in the organization, to educate them on what marketing needed to work efficiently was crucial, as was an assessment of the martech stack to see what was (and wasn’t) working, says Roman, who spoke at the recent MarTech East event in Boston.

A Lytics customer data platform, integrated with other solutions became a foundational piece of technology in helping Ancestry move at a more agile pace, he notes. “We were skeptical at first, but once we had the right data flowing into it, it made a big difference.”

Having a CDP in place enables the company to aggregate data sources and move data more efficiently into multiple sources, including its CMS, a CRM system for email and member service initiatives, and media platforms like Google, Facebook and Taboola.

“We can keep track of data across platforms and channels, and enable testing, to see how different channels work together,” says Roman.

Ancestry also established a standardized account structure, to improve tagging and taxonomy across its website. Governing councils were put in place to oversee products that were considered to be of great importance and/or highly involved, and automated quality assurance processes were put in place.

“Understand the data your vendors are collecting and why they are collecting that data,” notes Roman.




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