UK marketers debate people-based benefits

Katie Field, MD UK, Viant Inc

It was standing room only at an event we hosted last week on people-based marketing, as the industry’s major players turned out in force.

The presence of so many brands and agencies shows just what a hot topic this is right now.

It’s perhaps not surprising when you consider the impact a people-based approach is having on those that adopt it. According to an Econsultancy report released earlier this year, 65% of advertisers who have deployed people-based campaigns report that they out-perform standard campaigns on similar media. And 67% of advertisers say they’re now spending more of their ad budgets on people-based buys.

Three key themes emerged during the event.

1. It’s time to move on from cookies to finally nail attribution

All of the speakers agreed that the cookie is no longer fit for purpose in a world where consumers expect personalised interactions with brands, and joined-up on and offline experiences. The big issue now facing marketers is how to find real people and follow them along the path to purchase.

Finding ‘linkage’ along that journey is critical: according to YouGov, every day 60% of online Britons switch between at least two devices and 40% start an activity on one device but finish it on another. Using first party data to deterministically link devices to an individual is key to activating a people-based approach.

Once this linkage is achieved, it can have a transformational approach, finally letting advertisers track actual, identifiable customers across devices, channels and even in-store, engaging them with relevant content along the way.

At Viant, our partnership with the world's premier credit card information database, provides unparalleled consumer purchase information, helping brands attribute the impact of digital activity, even when the sale ends up happening offline.

2. Dealing with ‘dirty data’ is a priority

A switch to a people-based approach means you need alternative data sources to cookies.

Of course, first party data is the really beautiful stuff – the information brands have collected about their own audiences, often via a CRM system. But panellists also agreed that first party data often has its own issues.

The main issue comes in at the point of collection. For example, when email addresses are collected manually by staff in store when a customer signs up for a loyalty card and are then entered into a database by staff manually, mistakes can be made which makes the data inaccurate. Or in other cases, data can be lost when transferred between departments or between individuals within a company.

That means brands often need help enhancing the data they already own. That’s why cross-matching your first party data with high quality third party data can be so valuable.

At Viant we do this every day – the brands and agencies we work with are able to quickly sync their customer data against our 1.2 billion registered users to create, manage and target new segments on the fly. They can also augment their first party data with other rich sources of insight about consumers.

This matching process enhances your data. For example, a brand in the automotive space can cross-match their data with deep insights into vehicle purchase and ownership data, thanks to our exclusive partnership with the breakdown and insurance service RAC.

You can then define audience segments using known identity attributes such as demographics, purchase history (on-line and in-store), and web browsing activity easily within our audience builder tool. This is also done without needing to share specific personal information and so protects consumer privacy.

3. Can personalised ever be too personal?

It’s a legitimate question – after all, ads can seem a little creepy if they seem to know too much about you.

But speakers at the event suggested that brands and agencies have quickly learned how far to go with personalised creative and are adept at generating campaigns that don’t cross the line. The bigger annoyance for consumers is poorly targeted ads.

Christian Taylor, Chief Insight Officer at the RAC argued that people will thank us as marketers for delivering relevant advertising and preventing duplicate messages that alienate consumers. He felt strongly that the only way to beat the ad blockers is to offer consumers ads that are less intrusive.

Overall, it’s clear the industry is waking up to power of people-based approach. Targeting actual people - rather than cookies or anonymous devices - brings enormous benefits. Great brands care about their consumers and strive for the right mix of when, where, and how often to engage them in order to deliver the best possible brand experience.

We look forward to our next event, and will be sure to provide even more chairs to satisfy demand!

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.