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Kim, founder and CEO of Centrally Human, is a marketing technology and human-based executive leader. With more than 12 years of experience in human-based marketing, she brings proven expertise to help marketers connect with customers in authentic, meaningful, relevant and profitable ways.
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By Kim (Weisensee) Brown  |  Originally posted January 29, 2016 on Acxiom Perspectives Blog

A new year equals new resolutions. Get healthy, eat right, cook more at home. Boring and oh-so-typical. No, my young media and advertising friends, this is the year of data! Your new resolution for 2016: become a more savvy, data-driven marketer. For those of you that work in the media planning and buying space, you know the “Right Place + Right Message + Right Person” recipe. Using more data to find and reach the right people is a powerful way to elevate your campaigns’ impact.

There are many media planners just starting out who may be thinking to themselves, “I’ve heard about using data in marketing and advertising, and know my clients want to be more data-driven. But what exactly does that mean and how do I do it?” Great question. Data can feel abstract and intangible, but it’s just like cooking a simple meal. So instead of worrying about cooking actual food this year, focus on cooking up the best marketing campaigns possible. Think of it this way: building a media campaign is like cooking a big bowl of spaghetti. The result is one dish, but it contains lots of different ingredients: noodles, cheese, meatballs, and – of course – pasta sauce.

People-based data is like the best top-shelf, organic pasta sauce you can buy (homemade sauce would screw up my analogy). The sauce is just one ingredient in your spaghetti campaign, but it’s a very important one. People-based data represents the full and multi-faceted aspects of individuals based on real-life data, not stereotypes or assumptions from online behaviors or just one of our many interests/identities. It starts with a unique individual and, very importantly, anonymizes that individual using identity resolution technology. Then it can be matched and translated across different media channels – in a privacy-compliant way – so you can reach your true target audience. For marketing through digital, social, mobile, and addressable TV, this becomes like the paperless version of direct mail.

When I make the comparison of people-based data to top-shelf pasta sauce, I’m calling out the similarities in the quality of the ingredients – real and natural. Great spaghetti calls for key ingredients at the highest quality, and so does a great marketing campaign.

Why would you skip the sauce?! Maybe you don’t know what your dinner guests like, so you decide to make spaghetti and serve it without sauce. This is like running a campaign without data targeting. Sure, the creative is great, and it’s reaching a huge audience. But a lot of your audience target isn’t relevant, so you just spent a lot of money on noodles that many of your guests don’t want to eat. In a marketing campaign, using data doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to have a niche target. Leveraging data to ensure you’re reaching only known adults (“18-year-olds and older” for an adult age target, for example) is a way to keep scale and ensure core targeting parameters are in place.

Not all sauces are created equal. You could also get a generic or common commercial brand of pasta sauce. But it’s not made with high quality, natural ingredients and doesn’t taste nearly as good. All that cooking for lackluster flavor? I don’t think so. People-based data is different because it starts with data tied to actual people making it accurate, relevant and omni-channel. Regardless of the name on the jar, if a sauce is only 10% real tomatoes, do you really feel good about calling that a tomato pasta sauce? And if we hold the ingredients we cook with to a higher standard, why wouldn’t we do the same with the data we use to create a marketing campaign?

Okay, I’m sold on using the best sauce, ahem, data. What now? Just like in cooking, you have to gather all your ingredients first before you head to the kitchen. Start with identifying your audience, then creating people-based data targets. Look at the size of the targets overall and work with your publishers to see how your target scales. Then you combine the data with your placements and – voila! – a delicious and well-targeted campaign. Regardless of what you’re creating, the result is a sum of the parts within. High-quality ingredients equal high-quality meals. High-quality data equal a high-quality campaigns. Data-driven marketing sounds intimidating and complex, but it’s really as straightforward as cooking spaghetti as long as you remember to use the best data and follow the recipe.

And when you’re ready to start making your data shopping list, make sure you get the highest quality ingredients that connect people across channels at scale, which may include data for mobile, social, auto, retail, travel & entertainment, telecom, video and more.

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