Data Schmata – Drowning in Data, Hungry for Insight and Starving for Impact

The good news – we have access to tons of data!

The bad news – we have access to tons of data!

There is nothing new about data. In the 1950’s, Nielsen and other media companies used tons of data — both qualitative and quantitative — to share audience and behavioral insights with brands. The only difference between then and now is the sheer volume. Brands feel that they are drowning! This explosion has created three main challenges for brands to overcome:

  1. Identifying where your data is coming from
  2. Generating insights from your data
  3. Creating consumer impact from the insights that are generated

Today’s media headlines make us think that the world is changing rapidly but, the reality is, that it hasn’t changed as much as you think. While our attention has moved online, our lives are still very much offline. Here’s some evidence:

  • Consumers still spend over half of their time each day on traditional media (Source: eMarketer, April 2017).
  • Over 92% of all adult viewing in the U.S. is done on the TV screen (Source: Nielsen’s Comparable Metrics Report, Q4 2016)
  • 93% of all purchases today still happen in the physical world (Source: US Census Bureau, 2016)

The only possible way to bridge the gap between consumers’ online behavior and their offline lives is to leverage the power of location intelligence data.

Understanding customer behavior and preferences across the broader online and offline ecosystem allows a brand to see their customers on a much bigger and more colorful canvas.

Knowing where consumers go in their physical lives is the clearest way to understand their preferences. A brand’s greatest insight is seeing if a consumer has visited their store, has visited a competitor, or is in proximity to their store. A brand’s most valuable interactions are when they reach their consumers on time, within proximity, and within a defined context.

For example, 85% of Americans drive an average of 33 miles per day – mostly to and from work (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2016).  When asked at 4 p.m. on a given day, 70% said they haven’t decided on what they’re having for dinner that night (Source: Food Genius, 2015). This provides an extraordinary opportunity for QSRs, grocery/convenience stores, and restaurants to reach and influence consumers at the right time, location and mindset.

Most of us have already been told that it’s a bad idea to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. However, the ability to reach and influence hungry commuters — with no dinner plans but have a family that needs to be fed  — while they’re driving home is a powerful example of where behavioral data (I am a frequent QSR customer) combined with time and location data (dinner time is approaching and I’m commuting close to your location) creates the perfect opportunity to reach and influence that consumer.

Welcome to the World of Digital Complexity

While big data is hugely compelling, currently the beneficiaries are few. A recent study from the CMO Council (March 2017) shows that only 6% of marketers said they have a complete view of their customers from all data sources. The immediate opportunity for brands is to first focus on identifying, collecting, and analyzing all their own first-party data. This data often lives in various silos unconnected across their organization. Only from here can brands move to develop insight-driven campaigns by building brand-right, channel-right, context-right content.

A brand’s first-party data is by far its most valuable but its reach is often limited. To extend the data and insight, brands must work to identify their most valuable second-party data partners. Understanding customer behavior and preferences across the broader online and offline ecosystem allows a brand to see their customers on a much bigger and more colorful canvas.

After overcoming the initial challenges with data and insights, a brand is still left with the complex challenge of engaging with the customer in a meaningful way. Data and insights don’t guarantee impact!

Automation and standardization make buying media and targeting specific cohorts easier but not necessarily more effective. The average results from the majority of digital campaigns clearly demonstrate that both creative and impact problems still exist despite the presence of great insights from big data.

Data and insights shouldn’t only lead to more efficient programmatic buying. Big moments of consumer impact will come from campaigns that are far beyond the banner ad. When a brand works closely with a publisher to build custom, integrated media campaigns that are woven into the fabric of the consumer experience within that publisher’s platform is when brands will see their biggest rewards.

For more on this topic, watch this session from Advertising Week.

Mark Coffey

Mark Coffey

Head of Strategic Partnerships at GasBuddy
Mark Coffey
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