Data-driven marketing has heart.  In fact, at the Mediapost Brand Marketing conference where I  presented last week, much of the conversation centered around marketing and media data analytics, there was a lot of talk about humanity, authenticity and customer centricity.  It sparked my earlier claim that Data-Driven Marketing is Purple.

CMOs and marketing leaders are looking for quantifiable direction to guide customer connections across channels, and with measurable results.  Data alone won’t do it.  Media optimization alone won’t do it.  Creative experiences alone won’t do it.  Synchronizing those aspects into a well-oiled, omnichannel program requires all three – plus a whole lot of technology, people, governance and process behind it.   Real time marketing is about listening to the conversation and reacting to it in a way that is not forced or canned, but is truly authentic.  This requires brands to participate the way that humans, not corporations, behave.

Can brands be vulnerable?  Sure.  In fact, while being relevant and spontaneous takes some process preparation, especially in social marketing, the content must be fully reactive and in the moment.  Consumers don’t want to be engaged by brands – no one wakes up in the morning thinking, “I think I’ll have branded experience today!” – so much as they want brands to react to the conversations they’re already having about brands.

Data both defines and powers those personal, human conversations.  For example, Cisco Systems processes up to 5 million consumer cookies every night, said Paula Wang, senior manager of marketing platforms at Cisco, a panelist at the conference. “We can do a lot of fun things with that,” including match consumers with content, other like-minded people or experts.

The ability to present experiences based on behavior in real time is a core promise of data-driven marketing.  A lot of re-targeting software will speak to your acquisition networks and your CRM system in order to find consumers where they roam, and invite them to explore branded experiences or commerce.  This eliminates a lot of waste in the advertising and marketing spectrum, as well as provides a ton of efficiency and value for consumers.  Often, our data-driven lifestyles are so ingrained, consumers don’t even know (or notice) that marketers make them happen.

It’s just as hard for marketers to know that they made something happen – and attribution is the elephant in the room when it comes to data-driven and real time marketing.  While “last click” is wholly unsatisfying to marketing leaders everywhere, no one seems to be able to break the chain of control at the channel level.  Will the search team really give up their budget to an email team?  Will the content team be able to clearly demonstrate the power of social or mobile messaging?

“You have to comfortable using better data — not perfect data,” said another panelist at the conference, Ryan Bonifacino, Vice President of Digital Strategy for online fashion jewelry retailer, Alex and Ani. “Get better data and take action on it. It’s an iterative process.”

“Better” doesn’t always mean “more data.”  This is one way to make the analytics job more central and more enjoyable – get your analytics people to help the strategy teams ask the right questions of the data up front, by illuminating patterns and using predictive scores to trend behavior.  While everyone says the coolest jobs of the 21st Century are going to be “data scientists,” those jobs will never attract the best and brightest if we keep them behind the post-campaign wall.  Bring them out front and let them aid the strategy and creative process.

One good example of of data geeks transforming marketing is how Google promises to scale their “search and connect” method to the size of a TV audience, and in near real time (two second delay).   Dlya Jolly, senior product manager at Google,  said new consumer brand targeting features will be officially launched next Thursday (June 27, 2013), and will give marketers — small and large — the ability to target consumers based on their own intent signals at scale across all Google channels, display, video and mobile and search.  “We were actually able to get there,” she boasted, about attaining TV targeting scale, noting, “It’s easier to do all this stuff if you’re going to find 10,000 users. It’s harder to do this stuff if you are trying to find the 30 or 40 million moms in the U.S.”





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