How media agencies can help bridge the data knowledge gap

For the past decade, it’s safe to say that marketers have not only known the importance of rich data but have also assiduously worked to collect it. Logically then, they should be able to nail their customer offerings all the time.

But that is not the case. And for many marketers, the goldmine of data that they find themselves sitting on has shifted from a precious resource to a weighty millstone.

And with this overwhelming quantity of data on their hands, what are marketers doing by and large? They’re falling back onto tried and tested metrics like clicks, conversions and interaction rates when assessing the best way forward for their business, which often gives an incomplete picture.

Consequently, many aren’t fully able to gather insights into consumers’ motivations, priorities or even why they are behaving the way they are.

A knowledge gap is what causes most marketers to fall into these traps. It leads to limited insights being derived, and worse, an inability to turn any findings gleaned into meaningful action for a business. It’s also a problem that’s not likely to disappear anytime soon as access to data outpaces solutions that make it easily comprehensible.

The key to closing this knowledge gap is what I refer to as marketing intelligence. At its most advanced, this intelligence drives key business outcomes and elevates insights to maximise brand strategy. It connects key data points to business outcomes and it puts marketing at the heart of the business, allowing it to integrate with sales, customer service and product development.

Where media agencies can add value is by providing a helping hand to their clients - and their marketing teams - by demystifying their data for them. In short, they need to become the trusted purveyors of marketing intelligence.

This means taking a holistic approach and understanding their clients’ data potential. And, crucially, they must be adept at structuring this data. True business insights are only derived when data is adequately analysed, hence the ability to organise data and add to existing databases is paramount.

This refined data needs to be combined across business critical silos - these may take the form of the ad server, the customer relationship management database, the email service provider, the brand website or loyalty programs - which commonly aren’t connected in any substantial way within businesses. Marrying up these diverse data sets is a crucial step in gaining richer insights.

With data being brought in at the outset of campaign planning, the results allow savvy media agencies and their planners to develop, identify and measure KPIs that matter to clients. For example, factors such as incremental customer acquisition, order size, increasing customer lifetime value, or reducing churn can all be given sufficient focus.

With KPIs in place, the opportunity to shift marketing focus to the target customer base becomes a reality and appropriate messaging can be developed. Finally, based on these augmented KPIs, the most comprehensive marketing intelligence practitioners will identify customers who respond, those who don’t, and assess why they do so or don’t, as well as provide future insights to help engage these customers.

In data terms, this is playing in the big league.

Now the importance of being the right marketing intelligence specialist can’t be undersold, but I can’t stress enough that developing a data science-centric mentality also needs to be a prime consideration when client planning.

Furthermore, data-led planners should not be confined to the sidelines, but instead positioned at the forefront of client conversations.

It might require a collective mindset shift, but doing so will assist clients in getting to the crux of the business challenges they face. They’ll also be well positioned to grasp emerging opportunities that well-analysed datasets reveal.

Now surely that’s a goal worth pursuing.

Marcus D’Souza is managing director of Southeast Asia at MiQ.

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