Posts Tagged: data

Does Big Data mean Big Mobile? by Matt Rees @TheAgencyUK


Firstly, what does “Big Data” actually mean?

Big Data is, unsurprisingly, a big subject, but in its broadest term it refers to the increasingly huge amount of information that is available to us today. This is primarily driven by the way consumers are embracing the internet as part of their everyday lives. Financial services have been using transactional data to drive marketing for years. Often data from external sources, such as lifestyle data, is overlaid to improve the power of predictive models, and this structured data is increasingly being generated online. However the internet is also generating a wealth of less structured data including content consumption, social media, blogs and even digital photos that can also be harnessed to improve our understanding of consumers. The challenge of capturing, combining and analysing all this information underpins the big data phenomenon. Simply put, we can improve our understanding of consumers by viewing them from the different perspectives offered by different types of data e.g. what products have they bought, what are they doing online, what are they saying in social media, who are they sharing content with etc.

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How far can we push the data boundaries?

Richard Lees, Chairman of marketing services and data company dbg, questions some new data packaging offerings

As a marketer, I welcome the news that American Express has just launched a data analytics tool based on the transactions of its 90 million customers, but as a consumer I have to admit it slightly unnerves me.

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Don’t take a Cyclops approach to viewing your customers

The old adage ‘in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’ is as obsolete in marketing terms as sending post by carrier pigeon. While single customer view (SCV) has been around for a long time, it’s a narrow concept compared to having a 360-degree view of the individual. In this world of multiple data sources, there is ample opportunity to have a holistic view of your customers.
SCV is not the single point of truth about a person. It’s simply an organisation’s consolidated information repository: what you happen to know about me, as opposed to everything you should know about me. But many organisations are yet to make the leap from the unified database SCV affords to the idea of building a more complete picture of the people in it. A 360-degree is crucial because no matter how much time someone interacts with your brand, it likely represents only one or two per cent of the total amount they spend on all brand-related activity: so what about the other 98 per cent?
Filling the chasm between SCV and the 360-degree view is the job of external data sources, which afford a broader view than a limited internal database can provide. Third-party data feeds are critical to helping brands build multidimensional insight and understand the value that can be gained from each customer, not just those who are deemed the ‘best’ or most valuable. This oversight can cost businesses a lot of money in missed revenue.
One way of making greater use of available data is for two brands to match up mutual customers and determine crossover. For example, a store may want to find out more about their shoppers by the type of credit card they are using. The two could then strike up a partnership, using a combination of their data – but ultimately keeping it separate by running the initiative through an external supplier – to identify trends within the identified group.
Using external data can also throw up some more unexpected insights. Viewing only internal data could shape your perception of what look like your lowest-value consumers. In reality, there is probably a section of these people who could be worth so much more if they are identified and communicated with in the right way.
Look at it another way: just because I buy a couple of books on your website doesn’t mean I’m not spending more elsewhere. By knowing as much about my purchasing habits in your category as third-party data allows, you can send offers at the right time that might just tempt me to spend more of my hard-earned cash with you. Your database might flag me up as a good customer – but actually I’m a better customer to someone else.
The days of SCV being a data cure-all are behind us. Yes, it’s still important to join up your databases, but making sure there are no bits missing from your customer profile can be worth an arm and a leg when it comes to return on investment.

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Beyond reasonable doubt, the act must change

Brilliant defence lawyers have built glittering careers around interpretation of the word ‘reasonable’ for years. This seemingly harmless adjective is the lynchpin of many a legal argument, from the reasonable doubt of a murder case to the reasonable people who are notionally considered by the court when determining the damage to someone’s reputation in a libel action.
I was prompted to think about the importance of the same word in terms of direct marketing after receiving several letters addressed to a former resident at my home. Being a stickler for address accuracy (as well as something of a social historian – or some would say just plain nosy) and having the tools of the trade at my fingertips, I looked up the intended recipient. It turned out she was not registered as a goneaway, so it was not a suppression mistake, but the last record I could find of her at my address was eight years ago.
This seems a long time to be trying to contact someone if you’ve had no evidence they’re still at that address. On the one hand, it’s a waste of budget if this person is not responding, and on the other it could potentially upset someone who has to bend down to pick up the post every day.
The problem is, the Data Protection Act’s principle on retaining data states: “Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.” In other words, how long is it ‘reasonable’ to hold data for?
In our business as a data company, we could argue it’s in our interests to keep that asset for as long as possible. But a brand that holds information on someone they have had no contact with at a specific address for eight years is either being lazy or missing the point. From a bottom-line and moral point of view, should you carry on targeting someone who simply doesn’t respond?
Or maybe it’s the fault of the act? Brands and their suppliers, who after all are there to advise clients, need to consider whether they are compliant with the spirit of the DPA, and if indeed that principle now needs to be aired and debated in full. One in eight households will move in the UK during 2011; consumer data decays at a rate of more than 2% each month. This means an unmanaged database is rendered totally obsolete in less than four years.
Surely if we want to be able to keep our current freedom to interpret the Act, undoubtedly to our commercial advantage much of the time, we should be telling anyone who owns a database to sort the wheat from the chaff. It’s our duty to each other, to our client paymasters and ultimately to those consumers without whom all this would be pointless: now there’s a reasonable reason for change.

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Build or buy a database?

If you are serious about engendering long term profitable relationships from existing customers it is widely agreed that deriving effective insight from customer data is critical.

However, there is so much to bear in mind before an organisation can generate effective insight. A key question they must consider is do they have the appropriate processes in place to collect and manage data? Data collection is not easy, because of the plethora of platforms they use to communicate with customers. This is made even more complicated with the growth of digital and the opportunities presented by social media and mobile technologies. Nevertheless it is these new routes that allow marketers to gather even more meaningful insight on consumer behaviour and preferences than ever before.

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Why consumers should care about data governance

This question – should consumers care about data governance? – is a big one to answer, covering the collection, storage and use of data. However, it is one that demands a reasonably simple answer. That is yes, they really should.

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Are aggregated data pools getting stagnant?

Aggregated data pools have become a primary source of data for many organisations in the b2b arena. Marketers using this data are able to deliver adequate results, and the relatively low cost makes them commercially viable. Yet even though I’m not suggesting that working with an aggregated pool will have a major negative effect, my issues comes from the fact that these pools aren’t the Rolls Royce solutions they tend to be sold as.

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One-to-One Marketing goes 3D

Lord Leverhulme famously said that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the problem is I do not know which half”. In a downturn it is vital that none of the marketing pound is wasted and as planning director at Leeds-based direct response agency PCD, I can reveal how to be smarter with your marketing spend.

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The death of suppression?

Suppress, suppress, suppress is the mantra of the data industry. It is a critical element of the campaign process to ensure that we:

– Comply with the Data Protection Act.
– Reduce wastage from mailing goneaways and the deceased. 59m* pieces of direct mail a year are sent to the deceased.
– Avoid reputational damage, especially when mailing the deceased. 30%* of consumers would not buy from a company who had been known to mail a deceased person.

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Is the rush to embrace digital eclipsing the traditional?

Digital digital digital – isn’t it wonderful?! With its power to engage, its speed, the huge choice and access it offers consumers and, not least, the vast opportunity it provides for marketers to get under the skin of prospects and customers like never before.

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