Mad Men to Math Men
by Herman Manson (@marklives) Mad Men to Math Men is where advertising has been heading for a while now, and the pace of transformation is only picking up, Steven Plimsoll (@splimsoll), Chief Technology Officer at the WPP Data Alliance and at Mindshare Worldwide, told delegates at the recently held Acceleration Digital Ignition Symposium.
In case you don’t know, the WPP Data Alliance is a partnership between WPP companies “to connect diverse data to provide powerful, analytics-driven solutions for our clients.” This is where direct marketing meets media, says Plimsoll, who argues that the traditional adoption model used by many marketers is broken as consumers adopt communication technology at an unprecedented pace.
WPP, with its keen eye on shifts in marketing spend, and backed up by the findings of a 2012 Gartner report that says by 2017 the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) will spend more on IT than the CIO, is investing in building data partnerships, like the one recently announced with Twitter, and going into client data strategy.
For the WPP Data Alliance every interaction, across the various channels we make use of, becomes an opportunity to collect data on consumers. “Insight opportunities” extend from store openings to tweets, call center activity, online ratings and reviews, media preferences and more. Data sources include traditional market research, owned activity monitoring (own website, call centre activity etc), social monitoring and media intelligence. Now plug all that data into a single pipe and see what you come up with.
According to Plimsoll collecting data is a never-ending task – 2% of customer records are made irrelevant each month. Of course you now have to figure out which 2%!
Plimsoll talks of a value exchange between engaged consumers and marketers as the future of brand communication. As a delegate I thought the word ‘engaged consumers’ should have been in caps, because I really can see value in only seeing advertising on topics I’m engaged with, on the proviso that the rest gets junked. It seems unlikely that media owners, or frankly marketers, would honour such a deal, where they get to collect my data in return for only relevant marketing communication. I’m betting my data will be collected, sold, resold, and I’ll still receive a ton of messaging
Charles Duhigg, the NY Times writer and author of The Power of Habit, explains how data are already mined to predict consumer behaviour. Plimsoll uses Duhigg’s video as an example of power of data already held by many corporations (watch video below).
Plimsoll gave a telling example of what customer data integration is already in play (for those companies who can afford it). An anonymous consumer is served a display ad. The same consumer later drops in on the brand site and their activity is recorded against the initial cookie. This second visit indicates consumer interest, the cookie is targeted on ad networks, after the brand site visit triggered a rule to ensure the highest bid against said cookie.
The consumer might well land back at the brand website, where they register via Facebook Connect and sign up for the opt-in newsletter. The Facebook ID and email address are recorded and Facebook Graph provides social network insight. With a name and email address in hand 3rd party data brokers will be approached for lifestyle data and address details (by now your full real name will be available to the marketer as well as your location).
The cookie might be identified as a regular visitor to a site catering to new moms, a text to a competition line with the email address included matches email and mobile numbers. Finally a call center operator calls with baby product offers, capture, and match personal details. That is anonymous browser to a personalised call with a relevant product offer in eight not terribly hard steps.
Plimsoll isn’t worried about legislation targeting cookies, saying WebObjects in HTML5 remains active even when cookies are cleared, and offers more data. “No one is missing cookies,” says Plimsoll.
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