Embracing the Data Marketing Revolution

​By Gina McKinnon, Head of Fuse

​Our job in the communications industry has always been about knowing how to talk to people. The better you know a group of people, the easier it is to talk to them. Audience research has always been a crucial part of our offering to clients.

In the past, this research was an imprecise science. In public relations and communications offices we ran consumer polls to predict effective messaging. Creatives sat in rooms for hours thinking up exactly what to say, based on their conversations with clients around business needs. Social media was seen as a simple extension of billboard space for advertising campaigns, and in media agencies we relied on vendors’ audience numbers.

The explosion of data marketing has changed the playing field for the communications industries irrevocably. We’ve always had to work hard to get data, but now we’re swimming in it. We’re able to track consumers as they move across the web, see what they like and dislike, clone audiences that might like our products, and pinpoint niche marketing to specific geographic locations or audiences. While the old advertising used to be targeted at the mass, now increasingly it’s targeted at the individual.

Jane Stanley, Managing Director of OMD Programmatic, refers to data marketing as ‘Addressable Media’. She believes it’s becoming a game changer. “We know now that targeting an individual is a lot more valuable than just targeting a cookie,” she says. (For the uninitiated, a cookie is information that a website puts on your hard drive so it can remember something about you at a later time).

“Platform giants like Facebook and Google (and some local media players such as NZME and TVNZ) are holding the key to the viability of cookies as they have the ability to rely heavily on logged in identity data. This is precious as it enables the potential match of customer identities with their logged-in data and the media platform/channel to deploy the right marketing messages.”

More and more, marketing success will be determined not only by the number of interactions, but also by the targeted relevance of the message in relation to the business’ overarching objectives.

Kris Hadley, Head of Digital at Dynamo, points out that data can also help obtain reach. “We have now reached the point where we can use data to widen the marketing funnel – thanks to more customised attribution initiatives and modelling, marketers have increasing potential to engage customers with both contextualised and personalised communications at scale.”

Whatever we say, it still has to resonate with the individual we’re addressing. The most effective PR campaigns take qualitative and quantitative data into account. They navigate tricky territory and require us to make empathetic and thoughtful decisions. Hard numbers and personalised data determine our direction, but we’ll always have to make sensitive, human choices.

Across social we’ve used this data to plan creative content. We understand our audiences’ hobbies, interests and motivations. Understanding how users relate to brands, how they engage with each other and tracking these indexes of feeling over time give us rich human profiles that dictate our messaging. We’re always working to interpret these datasets in a way that not only applies to business problems, but also appeals to consumers.

For media, social, PR and creative agencies, this means pulling a cluster of specialized skills together in new ways to best serve client needs. We need to work across paid, owned and earned media to maximise reach and spend. It also means adopting a model whereby audience insights and developments are actually determining the strategy.

Embrace the data marketing revolution and let’s all use it to tell compelling stories.