Regardless of your business vertical – retail, FMCG, automotive, financial services or media – one of your primary objectives is building mutually valuable relationships with real people.
This requires capturing attention and keeping it, by offering some utility – exchanging something valuable – with your audience. It’s about being relevant.
Marketing relevance requires an understanding of how people behave, what motivates them and what they expect from you. Each of these is in a constant state of flux. Adapting to these changes is especially hard, considering the staggering amount of big data marketers need to organise, understand and act on.
Information overload is nothing new, but it is something that continues to grow in size and complexity. Big data management capabilities have become table stakes in today’s marketing world, and enterprises of all types need to understand how tools such as data-management platforms (DMPs) works. And that is just a start.
Even well-managed big data is of little benefit without a layer of added intelligence. You need to be able to turn meaningless numbers into actionable insights to adapt to changes in people’s behaviour. This is smart data. And it’s crucial if you want your advertising messages to be relevant, your media and channel mix efficient, and the impact of your advertising dollars meaningful.
In addition to being smart, big data needs to be fast. Fast data is not only fluid (able to move across applications with ease), but also actionable, based on real-time streams of consumer information. It’s as ‘in-the-moment’ as it gets, and it helps you provide a personalised customer experience across channels, devices and time.
The added layer of intelligence and speed needed to process all of this data requires serious machine power – the stuff of yesteryear’s science fiction – artificial intelligence (AI).
One of the most important things to consider when thinking about an AI solution is how fast it really is. Does it enable you to turn marketing data into actionable insights, based on real-time changes in people’s behaviour? Can it help you instantly react to shifts in media consumption, movement in the path-to-purchase, audience composition and new market dynamics across buying and engagement channels? If you are getting a resounding ‘no’ to any of these, then you’re probably wasting your time.
It’s important to note that most AI solutions on the market today employ batch (or offline) learning. Batch-learning requires data to be stored on a computer and modeled at a later time. The analysis, at its quickest, happens overnight but, generally, takes a few business days. These types of solutions aren’t going to help you respond to changes in your customers quickly enough. While a batch-learning system is performing its computational tasks offline, your audiences have already changed – it’s too late.
The type of AI solution that you need is one that employs adaptive (or online) learning, which reacts immediately to a changing environment. You need to take a big leap beyond batch-learning if you have any hope of consistently delivering good customer experiences across channels.
Every time a new piece of information comes in about your customers, it should result in a real-time change to your audience-targeting models. This always-on, adaptive capability makes you responsive to your customers’ needs in ways not possible until now. And you don’t need a small army of data scientists to do it. It’s push-button easy.
Imagine a real working situation – you log into your marketing platform and see that specific combinations of messaging tactics and audience targets are resulting in big jumps in conversions for a recently flighted campaign… significantly more than you’re used to seeing.
You want to double-down and optimise these combinations, but it’s 5pm on a Friday afternoon and most of your team has left for the weekend.
With an adaptive learning AI solution in place, you can go home and rest assured, knowing that models are automatically being built that identify what consumer attributes and behaviours are driving those conversions. Not only that, but it will activate these newly optimised audience models across all of your marketing execution platforms such as email, your website, programmatic, mobile and OTT-TV without requiring you to do anything. This ensures you are meeting the needs of the people most likely to convert at all times, and in all digital marketing places, regardless of where your team is.
Now that’s marketing, just as it should be.
Brett House, Vice-President Global Marketing, Nielsen Marketing Cloud