Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Old and New School Marketing

What can policy wonks teach us about big data?

In a great essay in Foreign Affairs on "The Rise of Big Data" the authors describe the implications and meaning of it all.  Since that is a premium article, I'll summarize a few key points. 

The sacred cows of the analytic kingdom from research to finance have rested on three tenets.
  1. Quality of the data
  2. Representativeness of the sample
  3. Causation of the outcome
For someone who started out in market research, has taught statistics and has an MBA in Finance, these were the inviolable crown jewels - something debated as much as the findings themselves.   However, in the world of 'big data' none of that really matters any more.  In fact,  we now use the terms..
  1. Messy
  2. All
  3. Relationship
as the lingua franca of the realm.   The reason: damn near everything has been datafied - a term the authors use to describe process of reducing everything to a stream of data.  Correlations of events based on all possible data, even if some is messy, is better for a business than a well selected sample from which we try to prove a hypothesis.  Data is now an operational function.

From your butt's imprint on a car seat (think anti-theft) to the spread of flu based on search terms to serving eviction notices based on the risk of fire, data now serves the role of providing the basis of taking action rather than just recommendations.  

Marketing, like many other functions, has been datified. The path-to-purchase is riddled with opportunities to leverage intent signals from one touch point in the business rules for the next.  We should now be asking questions like: 
  • What do consumers do before they do something next?
  • What sequence of content consumption relates to making a decision?
  • Where and when is the best place to facilitate choice?
These are the kinds of business requirements that marketers should be stating.  As marketing technologists, it is our job to architect a solution that provides the means to find and implement the answers.

If we're thinking about a report or a 3" research binder as the output from the data team, then we're thinking old school. 

Monday, June 03, 2013

Top 10 Digital Thoughts from LiveRamp

What were the CEO's talking about last week?

A conference in San Francisco sponsored by LiveRamp on digital marketing focused a lot on the display advertising ecosystem.   Since this was held at the Computer History Museum it was appropriate to see a lot of panels staffed with the CEO's and senior executives of technology and data firms. 

Here are the top 10 things I took away.
  1. The industry is not as advanced or as rock solid as the sales rhetoric suggests.   Expectations (and investment) suggest that several of the challenges will be addressed.
  2. The worlds of "brand advertising" and "direct response" are merging as longer term goals align with short term tactics.
  3. Buying audiences (and creating them) has replaced buying sites where audiences may congregate.
  4. Programmatic and RTB (real time bidding) is moving up the inventory ladder from secondary, remnant levels to premium as publishers get comfortable and see appropriate CPMs.   The display media buying process is filled with inefficiencies and the technology platforms are eying that world.
  5. Leveraging cross-channel data in real time is not yet a reality, but a lot of attention is being spent their in order to improve the consumer experience.   This puts the 'omni-channel data warehouse in cold storage' because it doesn't fit the consumer model of respond now, not next week.
  6. Attribution is 'directionally correct at an aggregated level' - and this from a guy who should know: the VP, Display at Google.    There is no certainty in any of this data – at best we can improve our confidence and that sounds like a service offering from the marketing service providers.
  7. Marketing would pay for a single anonymous identifier that deals with device, browser, OS, carrier, DSP/SSP, email and offline.   Device ID and IP remain suspect, but they're the best we have at the moment.
  8. "Intent signals" the art of separating out what's actually important from a business point of view.   The context of location (mobile) is interesting as services with 700 million devices come on stream.
  9. The money (VC and and advisers) sees opportunities and carnage on the horizon.  Platform proliferation and channel fragmentation is creating unsustainable market for this MANY companies.  
  10. The idea of a 'media plan for one' that is then rolled up into a buy was repeated a couple of times; SVP at dunnhumby made the best case for this.
As is often the case, the sidebar conversations and chance meetings were the most interesting aspect of a conference.