This year’s RampUp offered a wealth of information from a truly impressive lineup of speakers. There’s a lot to digest, and we know that (like us), you’ll be considering and sharing what you learned for weeks to come. We sifted through the ideas and insights presented by advertising luminaries across the conference to find the five most important things you need to remember.
1. Search for quality
We all know that there is an ocean of data available. Most brands know they can’t do it alone. They need reliable partners that can “bridge the gaps,” providing unique capabilities, as well as reliable data. Those that make the cut can expect deep, fruitful relationships.
Linda Duncombe, managing director and global head of digital marketing for Citi, said that once she finds a partner that offers what Citi needs, “We go deep and take it global.”
But that bar is high. Marketers look for real, in-market capabilities, a specialized understanding of their industry and unique data that can help build a more holistic view of their customers. To learn more about assessing data quality, check out coverage of the “Data as an Asset” panel, in which industry experts discussed data needs, gaps and relevance.
2. Interoperability still critical, yet elusive
Joe Zawadzki, chairman and CEO of MediaMath, said, “Interoperability is the watchword. How do you get the data to flow?”
This lack of data flow remains a huge issue for marketers who must deal with multiple identities for the same consumer, as well as the inability to smoothly move data across marketing platforms. Mastering such portability would enable better attribution, as well.
This interoperability is unlikely to be driven by the likes of Google or Facebook, which profit from keeping their consumer insights walled off. If the rest of the industry could take the lead in connecting the dots for marketers, it could create a strong competitive advantage, experts agreed.
3. Building corporate trust in data
Marketers who are new to using data to drive results may struggle to evaluate a vendors’ claims. Even those who have started seeing results from a deeper dive into data may have difficulty convincing higher-level executives to invest.
Matt Marolda, Chief Analytics Officer of Legendary Pictures, said he’s found that “analytics tend to confirm the majority of what you already know.” To help strategists and creatives get comfortable with a more data-driven approach to decisions, he emphasizes the need for validation. If you can reinforce current customer intelligence with data, it makes it easier for team members to then accept that the data may also be right about other insights.
4. The biggest barrier is organization, not technology
Almost every company that is not digital-first—and even some that are—has difficulty unifying its data. The more siloed the data is, the less unified their view of the customer. Moreover, each of these data silos has its own stakeholders, which causes decision-making to stall.
In addition, many businesses have organizational or legal barriers to data unification. Alexandra Morehouse, CMO of Banner Health, described her organization’s struggle to bring together protected health data, billing and call center data in order to allow its members better access to their information.
For Macy’s, the challenge was that different departments have individual sales plans and expectations; individual business units were more focused on their own results than on the overall results for the company, according to Darren Stoll, VP of interactive marketing and analytics.
Joshua Lowcock, EVP and head of digital USA for Universal McCann, advised companies, “Stop thinking of data as an output and think of it as input to every part of the business.”
5. People, not numbers
None of us should forget the purpose of all this data: to connect brands to real people. Real people are unpredictable, diverse, impulsive and complex. “Don’t forget the grandma who rides a Harley,” suggested Augustine Fou, Chief Marketing Scientist of the Advertising Research Foundation. Only real-time, one-to-one marketing could get grandma the information she needs on a new windshield for her bike; perhaps further data mining and consumer research might even uncover that older women are an emerging segment for Harley Davidson. Or maybe not. But only the data will tell the story of hidden audiences brands haven’t discovered yet.
Craig Teich, Connexity’s EVP of Global Sales, added that in order to connect with an individual, the messaging, creative and content are just as important as the data. The marketer’s ultimate goal, he said, should be a holistic understanding of how to use quality data assets and powerful creative to get the right message in front of the right people.