The four ways data changes business forever

If anything is about to transform the way marketing works, it’s that four-letter word: data. Technological advancements that have made it possible for any brand and business to have authentic, meaningful relationships with consumers makes data all the more powerful and relevant.

The following words by Mark Pritchard P&G’s Global Marketing Officer speak to a vision all businesses strive for: “Our vision is to build brands through lifelong, one-to-one relationships in real time… It means shifting from mass broadcasting, to creating more personal one-to-one conversations with individuals and the communities in which they’re active.”

This vision can now be realised with data’s newfound power.

Data’s potential to build individual relationships, which has been the case even before Aaron Montgomery Ward invented the mail order catalogue in 1872, is no secret.

Businesses have always had a fair idea of who its customers are, what they bought and why. In modern times, whole industries have been spawned out of data use. Don Peppers and Marther Rogers became the thought leaders of modern CRM and Frederick Riecheld from Bain, the father of Loyalty.

Billions have been spent using data to develop effective one-to-one relationships,however, today’s technological advancements make this dream a reality.

Technology has created two fundamental changes that alter the way we generate, access and leverage data. Firstly, by exponentially increasing the volume of data generated, and secondly, by making the analysis of this data stream more feasible and accessible to many more businesses.

The world data volume doubles every 24 months. Every second, Google posts two million searches; 48 hours of video content is posted onto YouTube, and over 100,000 tweets are sent.

Social media, mobile phones and other data tools mean that billions of people on the planet leave mile-wide data trails, making for much richer data sources than ever before.

This data explosion is coupled with our ever-increasing ability to slice and dice data. Computers are now better able to analyse the non-structured data surge, such as words, images, tweets, blogs and text messages. Whole industries are forming that help dissect this data into actionable insights.

These two technologically-fueled data tsunamis have forever altered marketing in four ways:

Mass customisation becomes real
Every business in the world has access to data today in a way that enables mass customisation. In some ways, data has become a “bottom of the pyramid” application.

An excellent report by IBM’s “Leading through connections CEO study” states that technology has now made “mass customisation” possible. Businesses now have the means to understand customers, based on actual, real-time behavior, and engage them as individuals.

Emergence of new careers
A science is being built out of foraging through vast amounts of data and turning that into useful predictive consumer insights. The Data Scientist is the new, advanced geek, who combines analytics with investigative zeal. This has resulted in a new breed of tech-savvy, socially plugged in hackers who determine what data to track and how to find meaning in it.

The Network Manager works closely with the Data Scientist. This is someone who curates and facilitates the consumer network of a business, observing, learning and influencing conversation and thus building long-term relationships.

These roles become even more critical in a world where building dialogue with consumers is a critical success factor.

Campaigns stop being one hit wonders
Most campaigns peak consumers’ interest in a brand only for it to wane once the campaign is done. Data changes that. Campaigns will be interventions in the building of ongoing consumer relationships. They will not only be used to pique interest, but to drive data too. The days of running an incredible campaign with no useful data at the end of the rainbow are gone.

Here is the really crazy thought: It’s only a matter of time before the reach of your campaign through mass media is less than that of your one-to-one channels. As a case in point, one million unique users registered and participated in the latest Carling Black Label Be the Coach campaign. That’s half the number of its core user base.

This changes the nature of classical marketing interventions. Data makes real the virtuous cycle of consumer communications and thus will change the way that marketing teams and communications agencies configure themselves to deliver their expert services.

Data makes marketing Return On Investment trackable
Want to know the good news? Data demystifies marketing ROI. The real-time nature of the new data streams means that the impact of any marketing investment becomes instantly available for measurement and refinement.

The words from P&G’s Global Marketing Officer are bold and brave. They usher in a new marketing era where data unlocks real-time value. Like all new eras, the implications are both exciting and daunting, but there is one thing for sure:

There has never been a better time to be doing what we do than now.

 

What does the future agency look like? Part 2

In part one of this article I looked at how the client environment is changing in the age of technology and parity. In part two, I discuss how agencies will change as a consequence.

Content generators
Breaking through the clutter remains a challenge, to cut through, agencies will become content generators. In a way that‘s what they do now, except today’s content manifests in distinct marketing channels – mostly advertising, promotions, brand experiences and digital. Soon however the lines between these channels will blur and agencies will create brand content in many other forms and combinations. Accelerated by media fragmentation and technology, content will vary from movies to movements, from creating bands like the Jonas brothers to choirs like Glee, from social media apps to online games played by thousands of people across the world. Traditionally content has been the domain of media companies, which then engage brands through sponsorship. Branded content will become the Holy Grail, and agencies will own that space. This will cause a shift in how agency teams are recruited and designed – teams that are able to tell a brand story through engaging, interactive (aided by social media and mobile) content will be highly sought after.

Strategy and thought leadership
Agencies will invest more in strategic capacity. A solid strategy with clearly articulated campaign objectives becomes even more critical in a world where brand owners and agencies have a plethora of communications options available to them. This trend mirrors the increase in marketing investment and therefore rigour and scrutiny in the client environment.

Agencies will have to stay at the forefront of the changing communication landscape if they are to service their client effectively. They will become thought leaders and provide the crystal ball perspective to clients. Clients will lean heavily on agencies to interpret the complex and ever changing world. Agencies will allocate more resources to internal thought leadership programmes – this may be more company wide training, an increase in the sharing of global intellectual property within the network, regulated research time and more.

Investment in delivery platforms
The land grab for anything digital won’t stop, however agencies will also buy and partner with new delivery platforms such as mobile, film, gaming and experiential in an effort to own as much of the marketing mix channels as possible. This is driven by the need to keep apace with technological innovation, margin and revenue extraction.

Project management
There will be more investment in senior strategic project management, currently account management or ‘suits’. This role will evolve into a more strategic force. The day of paper pushers will be over. Being the front line, they need to be strategically sussed, they need to understand the client’s complex world and interpret it to their agencies and vice versa. They will go from being the note takers to the umbilical cord between client and agency – the way it should always have been.

The large will get larger
Finally, clients are going to invest disproportionally more with larger agencies. For a number of reasons – in uncertain times, the money goes where experience lies – ask the Mckinsey’s and Accenture’s in consulting, or the Goldman Sachs’ and the JP Morgan Chase’s in investment banking. Large agencies will have the depth of global experience that will give clients the comfort that their agency partners can safely navigate them through uncertainty. Large agency groups will also have the resources to procure the best–of-breed talent, new business platforms (as discussed above). In a nutshell they will have the experience and service offerings that will make them even more competitive than they are today.

Some things never change?
David Ogilvy once said: “We sell or else.” The fact that marketing is such a critical function means more scrutiny on investment and return. Agencies that don’t help their clients sell will see the door faster than ever before.

In closing
I’ve written many times before about how the flux the world is in has made us naïve. When people are naïve they appreciate the opportunities that exist beyond their own experience and knowledge.

This can only mean good things for the industry. Lets embrace our naïvety and boldly go forth where no one has gone before.

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