Businesses tend to perform better in times of stability and continuity, when the future is simpler to predict. But we now live in a world of perpetual uncertainty, from trade wars to Brexit the future is becoming more difficult to anticipate. So how exactly do businesses achieve sustainable, meaningful growth in these uncertain times?

To mark our 2019 global partnership with EffWorks –  the global initiative that champions accountability – Jon Webb, Managing Partner explains what businesses should be doing to ensure that uncertainty becomes a growth opportunity.

Click here to read it.  

Why should I read this?

  • Understand what growth means in context of the times we live in today.
  • The opportunities that exist in the same spaces as challenges.
  • How to plan for sustained growth using a ‘future > back’ approach.

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Originally published on the Marketing Society website.

Shawn O’Neal knew he should speak up but froze.

He was a junior exec and didn’t want to upset the apple cart. Plus, everyone else in the room was suddenly ‘yes-ing’ the CMO to death.

He had just spent months collating the data, analyzing, researching and focus-grouping the new Pepsi Blue can that would be the face of Pepsi for years to come. The team was armed with a strong recommendation and the facts to back it up.

Then in one swoop, no questions asked, the CMO pointed at a can and simply declared ’I like that one’. The version that hadn’t performed well in any of the research. The one that had tested poorly and didn’t represent the agreed upon goals of the project.

Yet there they all were, nodding their heads in agreement, trying to make the CMO feel smart.

O’Neal bit his tongue. He’s regretted that ever since and spent the last 20 years trying to ensure that CMOs incorporate data, facts and solid insights to help inform better decisions rather than solely going with the bias of ‘gut’ decisions.

If that incident taught him anything – it’s that marketing excellence requires conviction and bravery.

These were much discussed topics during the ‘Is Marketing Excellence Enough?’ session at Advertising Week in New York hosted by Gemma Greaves Global CEO of Marketing Society. Conversation guests – Subway CMO Roger Mader, Michelle Froah, SVP of Global Marketing Strategy & Sciences at MetLife and Shawn O’Neal NA CEO Gain Theory – debated the role of data in modern marketing, coupled with the continued need to take bold risks.

Marketers are often wrestling with when to take ‘job risking’ gambles, when to lean on data, or when to play it safe. To Mader, the idea of being brave in pursuit of excellence requires “confronting sacred cows treated as religion in the organization.” One of those ‘sacred cows’ is that marketing is limited to just marketing. Today, it’s crucial for executives to push “beyond the boundaries of marketing” – such as speaking up about whether their company is selling the right products, has the right pricing or the appropriate strategy.

“You need to be brave enough to say this is not just about marketing. This is about our customers’ experience and marketing is just a window onto that.”

Mader said he’s hopeful that in the coming years, as more marketers are able to get comfortable with and unlock the benefits of data and artificial intelligence, the more time and ammunition they’ll possess to take on some of their bolder challenges.

Of course, there’s always the worry that too much reliance on numbers can hold a major brand back from chasing big – sometimes unproven ideas.

“I think that there are organizations that set some stretching ambitions,” said Froah. “Then when it comes down to setting the goal, or the target to meet, no one wants to fall short of that.”

Froah urged brands and their agency partners to make sure they are clear on what success looks like, before simply trying to ‘chase excellence’ without a clear plan. That requires getting everyone signed off on quantitative and qualitative measures. 

“I think data is critical to making the right decisions,” she said.

“But you have to use data for good and that means using it to really listen to customers and really understand what issues you can fix. Also, you can galvanize the whole organization to set the right marketing requirements, to reset customer experience, create new solutions. There is still very much an art and a science to it. The biggest watch out is remembering that data represents people, but people aren’t data.”

True. But the panelists also noted that marketing is a long way from being as ‘scientific’ as it can be. O’Neal quoted a recent study which found most Marketers are using data to inform only 40% of their decisions. Which left him to wonder, what happens with the remaining 60% of decisions?

“We’re still a long way from call it, the perfect balance between art and science,” he said “40%! Come on! Are you telling me that 60% is guessing?! I mean what are we doing here?”

“There is still a ton of room for science to be part of this equation,” he added.

The more science backing up your ideas you have, the braver you can be.

Especially if you think your CMO is picking the wrong soda can.

It’s a long journey from the classroom to the C suite, and managing a global organization isn’t a job many people can relate to. So, what is that journey like? What are the lessons learned? What are the leaders really like behind closed doors?

In this exclusive and candid WPP Stella podcast we hear from Manjiry Tamhane, Global CEO at Gain Theory in conversation with Jay Kandola, Commercial Director at Mediacom talk about her journey to the C suite, perspective on life and leadership.

Highlights include:

  • Manjiry’s journey from university graduate to Gain Theory CEO
  • Why being brave is vital to success
  • What makes Gain Theory special
  • The book that had the biggest impact on her
  • On building data informed cultures
  • How to deliver marketing excellence
  • …and why shy bears get no honey!

Listen to the episode below, if you enjoy it, share it!

Stella Conversations is a series of informative and inspiring conversations between members of the WPP Stella women’s leadership group and a cohort of future leaders.


In June during the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Gain Theory Global CEO, Manjiry Tamhane, and Howard Grosfield EVP & GM US Consumer Marketing at American Express took to the stage to talk brand purpose and Marketing Excellence at the CMO Club House.

Below are the key takeouts, originally published on the CMO Club website.

To join this innovative and engaged community of CMOs, committed to helping each other solve their biggest challenges in a behind closed doors, candid, and trust-worthy environment click here.

Key Takeaways

  • Marketing is the engine of business growth.
  • We find a lot of conversations are about being data-driven, but it should really be about how data is used to inform the decisions within an organization.
  • Organizations that ground their decisions in data outperform on revenue by 85% against their peers.
  • You need to have a deep understanding of the purpose of your brand and then permeate that meaning to the front lines of your organization. If you do both of these things together, that’s excellent marketing.
  • When marketers excel at what they’re doing, you get sustainable business growth.
  • We aren’t trying to be the largest Bank or credit card company. We wake up wanting to deliver the world’s best customer service every single day, even if that involves us moving into new markets or engaging with our customers in new ways.
  • We’re a data-rich company. Our problem is not getting data. We have 120 million cards used around the world, but we need to be surgically precise on how we use this data to drive engagement. When customers tell us what they need, we pivot.
  • There’s a divide between those who think it’s about creative and those who think it’s about data.
  • For those of us in heavily regulated industries where every marketing message needs to be approved, the gift of agile is being able to seat the copy person, the creative person and the compliance person round one table, and do what the customer wants us to do.
  • Questions marketers are asking, “How do I educate and upskill my people,” and “How do I change the process?”
  • The marketer’s challenge a few years ago was getting their hands on data, removing jargon from the industry and asking a simple question without getting different answers. Now marketers have the data, know the jargon, and have the answers. The challenge is how to make decisions quickly, and how to become data rich but not insights poor.
  • Manjiry Tamhane says; “My Mum gave me determination. She’s as stubborn as anyone you’ll ever meet. My Dad was an architect so from a creative industry, and it created a beautiful blend of my mom’s data brain combined with his creativity.”
  • Howard Grosfield says; “My parents were tremendous role models. They taught me that people rarely remember what you say, but they always remember how it made them feel. We’re now in the feelings business, that advice has translated well into my career.”

Karen Kaufman, Global Chief Strategy Officer at Gain Theory speaks to AdAge in an article about the barriers keeping marketers and organizations from leveraging their data to inform decisions.

Closing the gap between marketing analytics and performance

Many marketers today have measurement systems in place to gauge the impact of their marketing campaigns. When ROI estimates reveal that a campaign is falling short of expectations, a decisive and well-informed marketer will reshuffle the media mix, change up the creative or take some other corrective action.

Unfortunately, this level of rigor is not being applied consistently to marketing investment decisions. Data and analytics are a gold mine, but marketers are not fully incorporating this intelligence into their decision-making process.

The fact is data and insights often languish inside the organization, resulting in organizations that fail to achieve the full potential of their marketing investment.

Research confirms a disparity between spending on data and analytics and a marketer’s willingness or ability to make decisions on the basis of its conclusions.

Currently, marketers spend 5 to 7% of their overall budgets on data analytics. According to the CMO Survey, that number is expected to jump to 11.3% in the next three years. And yet, in 2019, fewer than half (43.5%) of all business decisions are being made on the basis of marketing analytics—the highest level in the last six years. Moreover, when respondents were asked “To what degree does the use of marketing analytics contribute to your company’s performance?” they gave an average rating of just 4.1 on a scale from 1 (“none at all”) to 7 (“highly”).

The numbers seem remarkably low, especially considering the high levels of investment. To the casual observer, they raise the question: Why would a company commit resources to marketing analytics—or any data asset—without an obvious benefit to the business?

For starters, many marketers approach the need for data analytics as simply “checking a box”—in other words, for its own sake rather than with a clear understanding of the business question the marketer is trying to answer. There is an urgent sense of “I’ve got to do [fill in the blank] because everyone’s doing it.” That’s one sure way to get stuck in the weeds and by no means a path to marketing success.

Turn actionable insights into action

By now, it is widely accepted that one of the main goals of analytics is to produce “actionable insights.” Many successful marketers already possess the necessary insights to better engage with consumers. The issue is not so much the insights per se, but rather it is the ability to implement those insights by key decision makers across the organization that usually represents the biggest hurdles for marketers.

At Gain Theory we know this to be true from our own research findings. In one industry study, we asked marketers, “Is your company able to act on insights?” The answers we got back were mixed. Some marketers were unable to take action on key insights because they lacked a mandate from senior management while others got bogged down in a process of testing the efficacy of the findings before widely implementing the lessons to other departments. One respondent summed up, candidly, “We sometimes apply data without logic or experience.”

Design solutions for the end user

Today’s marketing technology space includes an abundance of tools powered by precise statistical models. Yet most of these tools were not designed with the marketer in mind. They can be overly technical and cumbersome to use.

We set out to correct this problem when developing our new marketing decisioning platform, Gain Theory Interactive. We conducted interviews with marketers and brand teams to fully understand how decisions are made. We learned that marketers need to be able to make critical decisions—often on the fly—and they need tools that empower them to make those decisions without requiring expertise in things like regression models.

Our main goal was to build a platform for marketers that simplifies the user experience and makes the output clear and easy to understand. The platform’s landing page, for example, immediately gets to the crux of the business question, whether it’s determining the budget required to achieve a sales target or informing the right marketing mix for a planned spend. As users go deeper into the platform, the steps and required inputs are designed to reflect how marketers tackle real-world problems.

Consider how the iPhone has revolutionized not just how we work but how we handle practically all aspects of our daily lives. Yet few if any of us ever think about the nitty-gritty details of the technology that makes our gadgets work right out of the box. With a platform that enables marketers to make informed business decisions without having to be experts in analytics—or taking the time to consult with a team of data scientists—marketing can achieve its fullest potential.

Article originally published on Adage click here.

Find out more about Gain Theory Interactive by visiting the site here 

 

 

Gain Theory’s Claudia Sestini discusses the numbers behind marketing excellence.

marketing-measurement-in-the-uk-the-senior-marketer-pov

This year’s Marketing Society Excellence Awards displayed the UK’s bravest and most impactful marketing achievements. Direct Line, Mars, John Lewis, The National Lottery, ITV and many more can now be added to the marketing hall of fame providing inspiration for years to come.

Reading the case studies, you get a real sense of vision and purpose. But what about measuring impact – the numbers behind marketing excellence? What role does measurement play in the ad campaigns that steal headlines, generate sales, and win awards?

In a world where a marketer’s currency isn’t solely focused on creative anymore, the data gold rush has taken its hold. A rush to measure, validate, optimise and manage based on the insights from the data mine.

Before we marshal marketers towards the fountain of eternal data and insights, let’s stop and think about the end goal. Why we’re doing it, how and when we should do it, the impact on marketers and crucially the business.

Research carried out earlier this year, conducted impartially by an ex-CMO with senior marketers in the US representing brands with a total of $1.9bn advertising spend, confirms a number of marketing measurement pain points: Metrics overload, or analysis paralysis; short termism, organisational structure and the need for one source of truth.

With this mind, the Society and Gain Theory have been collaborating to explore these challenges and how we solve them with senior marketers across global hubs – New York, London, New Delhi & Singapore.

Over dinner, high atop the London skyline at the lofty heights of the Gherkin, the Society convened Excellence Awards judges, winners and a wider group of senior marketers to take a 30,000 foot look at the choppy marketing measurement waters. We were in good company with marketers including Jaguar Land Rover, Direct Line, Samsung, HSBC, Wiggle, Hiscox and more.

Metrics that Matter

There was broad agreement on the following fact: we have so much data we can now measure the arse out of marketing.

The increase in channels available to marketers is leading to an increase in the number of metrics used for reporting. This firehose of analytics has crippled many marketers with “analysis paralysis” whereby there’s not enough time, resource, and skillset in a day – or a month – to go through all the numbers, identify the key statistics and discern lessons from them. One marketer sagely remarked, “Just because you can measure, doesn’t mean you can manage.”

In addition, some of the metrics are not sufficiently linked to business outcomes. As one marketer said ‘We have too many metrics that are not financial’.

The consensus is to focus on the metrics that really matter. One marketer said that her view on measurement was simply, “Do they see our comms and will they buy more as a result?” Everything else, it would seem, is salad dressing.

Then, there are metrics that we need on daily basis to understand and manage business impact of marketing to the ones that help us manage stakeholder expectation. Using the right ones for the right ‘internal audience’ was another solution provided around the table.

Other marketers highlighted that in the sea of available metrics “ROI is the easiest metric – it’s a winner.”

Another view was around digital – Google, Facebook et al all were name dropped, of course. The thinking here is that yes do it, but learn from it. To quote one marketing effectiveness leader at the table ‘Go play, but please measure’.

More advice around the table included:

  • Think about the “So What?”  factor – only measure things you can do something about
  • Talk soft metrics and the board are not interested!  Focus on metrics that give you credibility
  • Define the 6 things that drive value creation
  • Where measurement is concerned, it’s incumbent on marketers to set the agenda

Is Brand Marketing Dead?

A challenge that was cited repeatedly, is the sharp pendulum swing towards short-term activation. It feels like marketers are bemoaning a lack of focus on long-term impact, and thus the demise of brand marketing and subsequent impact on long term growth. One view was that this is being caused by C-Suite and shareholders expecting instant results.

Another perspective is that digital has been a pariah to long term effectiveness with one marketer saying “Digital allows us to activate sales quickly.”…“Brand marketing is dead.” Said another “We are so short-term focused – it’s all about instant results. If our campaign isn’t generating sales after 5 hours, its pulled.”

So, marketers are left wondering: how do we highlight how brand marketing can impact growth?

One solution offered was using the right language and metrics when communicating to the business and especially the C-Suite. Marketers must be able to communicate growth via metrics that impact both top and bottom line. So, it follows that even long term brand impact must be able to show an ROI.

Ultimately, we all agreed that short term is not a bad thing but rather that it’s not a battle between short vs long but more a case of re-evaluating short term within long term.

Magic vs Logic

marketing-measurement-in-the-uk-the-senior-marketer-pov-3

There is a place for hard metrics and a place for being brave and trying things that are not measured or measurable.

There was a sense that if you’re able to walk into the board room with a great creative idea then your short term ROI worries go out the window. Big, bold executions still win hearts and minds of consumers, and after all after isn’t the goal for marketing to change human behaviour?

As one marketer said, “We all know that the number one driver of ROI is creative.” Gemma Greaves, Global CEO at the Society, cited the Cadbury’s gorilla campaign which apparently didn’t initially receive a great reaction internally – there were reservations:

Lee Rolston, Cadbury’s director of marketing at that time, is quoted to have said, “We had a pragmatic concern that it was just too far for Cadbury to go from where they were at that point; that there had to be some sort of stepping stone. But then we thought, ‘You know what? This is an opportunity; we should do what we feel is right rather than what we think they will think is right.’”

Apparently, the board were tasked to take the creative home for the weekend and show it to friends and family. Come Monday, the emotive, game changing power of the creative execution and its potential was clear: everyone loved it and the creative was given the go ahead.

The Upshot

What was truly great about the dinner in London was how open everyone was about their challenges, views and crucially how happy they were to offer a solution to each other. This is what makes the peer network of the Marketing Society so great.

There are a few key takeaways. Firstly, it’s imperative to focus only on the metrics that matter and that you can do something about. Secondly, it’s about managing a portfolio of risk both short and long term. Finally, even in a time of Big Data, there are occasions when tossing out the spreadsheet and going with your creative gut can move hearts and minds and ultimately ROI.

My final thought is that marketers are well placed to set the agenda for measurement. Not only do we have the data and resources to hand to measure top and bottom line growth but we also possess, in my mind, the biggest power of all: the ability to tell compelling stories that touch the hearts and minds of people. We must be braver and bolder in using the story telling ‘super power’ more with internal stakeholders, remembering to utilize the right language for the right audience whether C suite or across the organisations.

Read the original article here.

The world is data rich. We are inundated with data feeds and each new data feed comes with its own KPI that is shouting for your attention. How do we sift through the innumerable data feeds today to focus on what really matters?

Historically, many marketers have used MMM as a technique to understand what is driving sales. Although this is still a good technique, especially for calculating marketing ROIs and macro media planning, MMM assumes that customer engagement and the way people interact with your brand remains constant. Not only does most activity that marketers run is designed to do the opposite, such as changing the way that people think and interact with the brand, but the technique also uses data from up to three years ago.

Imagine if you could…

  • Know whether you’ll hit sales targets before the campaign launches
  • Shift media /creative during a campaign
  • Connect insights directly to activation partners

Jon Webb, Managing Partner at Gain Theory, shares the latest predictive analytics techniques in a panel at Marketing Week’s Data Storytelling Conference in London.

 

As marketers, many of us start our careers mastering our craft and learning the art of marketing, advertising and communications. A few years pass and we start managing teams, and with this comes the development of new craft: balancing the needs of the day-to-day job whilst inspiring our colleagues and team members to help them achieve their full potential.

Then, there’s leadership – not just leadership of large marketing teams but leadership within the organisation, flying the flag for business growth and the ability to inspire everyone with a vision that will rally the troops towards a common goal. Unfortunately, that’s not a skill that is directly taught but, it’s an area where most of us want to be successful.

However, the path to becoming a marketing leader presents inherent challenges which can, in part, be progressed if we have honest, uncomfortable and brave conversations around the topic with peers and leadership experts.

With this setting in mind, the Marketing Society and Gain Theory partnered to host a dinner for marketers in Delhi, India addressing two topics:

  1. Marketing leadership
  2. Challenges and pain points around measuring marketing’s value

Our 20 high-calibre dinner guests spanned a range of industries – banking, telco, tech, retail – and passionately took part in the conversation. The opinions expressed were lively and arguments were passionate – there was no place to hide for those lacklustre in opinion.

The table was set and by god, the conversation was going to crackle throughout the evening.

 

Find the Value Creation Zone

To set the scene, Thomas Barta – a marketing leadership author and speaker – spoke about what it takes to drive business impact and career success based on research of over 8,600 leaders in 170 countries worldwide. He highlighted 12 specific ‘marketing powers’ that help mobilize your boss, colleagues, team and yourself. Amongst many inspiring insights, some of the truths that resonated with us are:

  1. Marketing is often perceived as a cost, the ‘fortune teller’– with little tangible value attributed to efforts, specifically value defined in business metrics that impact the bottom line
  2. Many marketers spend time on things that don’t really matter to the business
  3. You have to find the ‘value creation zone’ – projects that matter to your CEO and your customer. Where the two overlap should be your point of focus.
  4. Spend time getting commonly agreed metrics in place, to validate marketing contribution to the business
  5. …and articulate marketing value in business KPI terms

 

Mad Scientist Effect

When it comes to focusing time on the right things to become a marketing leader, a few bemoaned the ‘Mad scientist’ effect where many spend time following the latest shiny marketing toy which, in the end, distracts them from becoming a leader. One marketer said, “you need to heavily prioritise what you take to your CEO/CFO/CIO.”

However, the lesson is simple – when it comes to investment in innovation, test and learn and rather than wait to sell in change, just get on with it prudently under the radar with small portions of budget. One marketer at the dinner said, “Cypher off an amount of investment in your annual marketing budget for innovation and see this as ‘under-the-radar’ investment.”

 

Balancing the Spinning Wheels

One of our guests pointed out that whilst we try to become leaders, marketing is under immense pressure to answer a multitude of questions. Who are our high value customers? How do we cross-sell across category? How do we invest in innovation? How can you deliver and exceed customer experience?

Then there is the tug of war between short term results and long-term effects of marketing activity.

There is no other department being asked such a range of questions.

One solution offered was to balance the expectation of these questions, how they ladder up to business objectives and agree metrics by which to measure them.

 

De-Glamorise Marketing

When the conversation shifted to the trend that marketing initiatives and budgets are getting the last slot at the board meeting, there were a number of empathic nods around the table. There’s an expectation for marketing to come into the Board meeting with the fun campaigns, the pretty pictures and talk about softer metrics which don’t resonate with business language used in that forum.

One marketer said we need to ‘de-glamorise marketing’ and present the numbers that ladder up to business key performance metrics. Once you do this, the Board will start to lean in and take notice of the value that marketing brings in. Marketing can then start to be perceived as an investment that has tangible impact on the P & L instead of being perceived as a cost.

 

Marketing Value – Challenges & Pain Points

Manjiry Tamhane, Gain Theory’s Global CEO shared some insights from an independent research commissioned earlier this year with CMOs from brands representing over $1.9bn in advertising spend. The research revealed several marketer challenges and pain points around marketing measurement. A sample of quotes from the research were:

  • “Can’t agree on which few metrics to measure or focus on”
  • “Too many data points = paralysis”
  • “We are making observations versus true insights into what’s driving the business”
  • “Still too many silos in our organisation and not enough sharing between the data scientists and marketing”
  • “We need one source of truth, a True North, that will drive our metrics and resulting insights”
  • “No agreed method for cross media attribution”

Many of these quotes resonated with our dinner guests but on the last point,

one senior marketer pointed out that Marketing Attribution – understanding which marketing investments are working, in real time – is a real challenge and there is no common standard. There’s a need to understand which tech platforms to invest in, education around the topic and a need to invest in the right skillsets.

 

Metrics – the Cornerstone of Success

Metrics were a recurring theme, underpinning most conversations during the evening. Thomas pointed out that agreement on the key success metrics takes time, it might even take a year, but is worth investing the time.

“Ask sales what is meaningful to them in terms of metrics and work hard to satisfy and if not exceed this” said one marketer. Another said “It is your job as a marketer to set expectations. Satisfaction is ultimately about managing expectation and matching that with the right delivery”.

 

What we learned

As W.B. Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.”

Whilst the take outs listed above are all immensely helpful to our journey in becoming leaders, W.B. Yeats’s quote rings particularly loudly in relation to our dinner in Delhi. Mostly because the fire that was lit that evening through honest, uncomfortable, passionate and brave conversation led to the education of all around the table.

 

This article was originally published on The Marketing Society site.

 

 

On 22 May The Marketing Society partnered with Gain Theory to host an inaugural dinner in New York, following a successful CMO lunch during Advertising Week last year. Our goal was twofold: to understand the value that The Marketing Society could bring to the senior marketer community in the US and discuss findings from a recent piece of CMO research into marketing effectiveness.

‘Marketing can be a route to leadership, but it’s rare. Marketing can sometimes be perceived as a back room function’

With this quote from a senior US marketer we are reminded of the very real need for the joint mission of The Marketing Society and Gain Theory global partnership. We are collaborating to empower marketers to be braver, bolder, faster and smarter, which is crucial given that marketing leaders feel they are a long way from reaching their full potential.

So, over a fabulous candlelit dinner with the added touch of a Chief Magic Officer by Johann Bayle, a stellar group of senior marketers from the likes of Diageo, Samsung, Amex, WeightWatchers, Pepsi and many more congregated.

A community of bold marketers with a diversity of opinions and experience in line with what NYC has to offer…

There’s a cornucopia of marketing organisations in the US catering to the insatiable thirst for knowledge offering up a never buffet of networking, thought leadership, best practise, awards etc.

Yet, the marketers we spoke to in New York are left hungry. When Gemma Greaves, Chief Executive asked people what value they felt the Marketing Society could add there were common threads to virtually all of the replies.

A safe place for honest, challenging conversation; a place where you can be honest about what you do and don’t understand; thought leadership that makes you bolder; help from your peers without bias or judgement; somewhere you can actually drive change; a circle that liberates and helps you think; a true sense of community where you can tackle conversations that we normally don’t talk about.

Ultimately as Gemma put it, The Marketing Society could provide ‘a safe and comfortable place to get uncomfortable’.

CMO insights: marketing effectiveness validation

Having opened the door to honesty and uncomfortable conversation we tackled some insights around marketing effectiveness. Manjiry Tamhane, Global CEO at Gain Theory, took the group through some unbiased CMO research conducted recently in the US around marketing effectiveness.

The research revealed that marketers within global brands are still searching for a guiding light when it comes to marketing measurement, decision making and strategy based on insights. They are being paralysed by ‘infobesity’ caused by ‘too much’ research, data ‘lakes’; confusion around metrics that matter and insights that take too long to develop and are regressive in nature.

Then there’s the lack of the right structure internally to make best use of any insights.

The findings were clear:

1. Going beyond data

Harnessing the power of data, and becoming data driven, is critical to future success. However for most there was the realisation that it’s not about data for data sake:

  • “We are data rich and insights poor” – Travel VP Media
  • “We can’t get what we need from our digital partners who have walled gardens” – CPG SVP e-commerce

2.  Lack of common metrics

For many, the issue was around getting agreement on which metric to use… i.e. which are the metrics that matter?

  •    “We are making observations versus true insights into what’s driving the business” – CPG CMO
  •    “We need one source of truth, a True North, that will drive our metrics and resulting insights” – CPG CMO
  •    “Can’t agree on which few metrics to measure or focus on” – Auto Consumer Insights Director
  •    “too many data points = paralysis” – Retail Brand Director

3. Organisational structure

Most of the brands questioned whether their organisation had all the skills necessary to interpret the data into meaningful insights:

  • “Still too many silos and not enough sharing between the data scientists and marketing” – CMO, Retail
  • “We are our worst enemy sometimes because our brands guard their respective insights closely and do not share” – Travel Brand Director

4. What clients want in the near future

In a nutshell, marketers need to quantify the future i.e. forward looking insights to forecast tomorrow’s sales today:

  • “We are making the most of what we have, although much of it is based on past efforts ” Retail Brand Director
  • “Building more forward looking models that leverage 1st party, media, behavioural, cultural and social data to forecast tomorrow’s sales today” Retail CMO

Do the insights ring true? Feedback from our inaugural dinner

There was a sense of frustration…‘The biggest irritation in marketing is always being asked the same question over and over again. Invariably the answers are always the same, just a different brand manager answering’ said one marketer.

“Our research department spends a lot of time diving into qual, quant and data analytics. By the time it does the rounds internally – blocked by silos, questions about metrics and what it means – there’s very little that we can actually use” said another.

When it comes to data, one marketer pointed out ‘’Brands that ask the right questions will get the most out of their data’ with another marketer cautioning ‘we need to unlearn our dependence on data’ as some marketers in big brands have a tendency to ‘hide behind data’.

Global CMO challenges

The Marketing Society and Gain Theory will continue to canvass senior marketer participation across many of the global hubs to understand the challenges and pain points we are faced with when it comes to validating marketing value.

Ultimately the aim is to unite marketers around the challenges, and together as a marketing community, find solutions that enable bolder, braver marketing through faster, smarter decision making.

Read the original article here.

As consumers, we are subjected to it every hour, every day and, in some ways, we have already accepted this as inevitable and positive part of our online experience. For instance, beauty and luxury car companies almost entirely withhold their ads from my laptop screen. Instead I’m the prey of food and beverage companies, and thanks to my girlfriend, female fashion. But I’m ok with this; it means I see adverts that are likely to be of interest. It wouldn’t be possible without brands being able to access data to enable programmatic advertising which in 20151 grew in the US and UK by $5.91 billion to $17.5 billion.

Targeted advertising is just the start. The evolution of brands involves using social data and online behavior to help them set prices based on the individual, otherwise known as price discrimination. The word “discrimination” carries a stigma, but in the world of digital media, it’s a good thing.

Price discrimination is not a new concept in the Financial Services industry. Banks charge interest rates based on how likely a customer is to be unable to repay – this seems fair, people with good credit ratings don’t pay for those without. Car insurance companies charge premiums based on a number of characteristics such as experience and claim history.

In November 2016, Admiral intended to launch their tool, firstcarquote, to use individuals’ Facebook activity to help determine a suitable premium. However, on the day of the planned launch, Facebook made the decision to prevent Admiral from using Facebook post data in order to protect the privacy of its users2.

Despite the setback for Admiral, other companies have had more success in using personal data to inform price. Vitality, a health and life insurance provider, enables members to factor in consumer activity levels into the price of an Apple Watch. People pay a small upfront cost ($57)3 and then 24 monthly payments between $0 and $13 depending on how active they have been. In other words, Vitality price discriminates based on the activity level of each customer.

So why did Admiral get shut down and Vitality pass muster? In both cases, the customer has to agree to their data being used. In the case of Vitality, however, the rules are transparent: the wearer gets points for different types of activity, and points mean prizes. For Admiral, the rules were less clear, in fact the principal data scientist, Yossi Borenstein said “Our algorithm for calculating what ‘safe’ looks like is constantly learning,”4 In other words, it will constantly change.

There are also concerns regarding how peoples’ behavior on social media will change if they are aware that it is being used by companies to set prices. How might you change your posts, what you like and the groups you join if it impacted the price you pay? One of the core concepts of social media is for people to have the freedom to share their lives and interests with the world.

Personal data is no longer limited to just targeted advertising (e.g. programmatic display and video) – it is now also used for price determination and perhaps in the future this may extend to product eligibility.

To quote the epitome of advanced technology (the Borg – Star Trek) “Resistance is futile,” and it may even result in harming the consumer through higher prices and less choice. Better instead to direct the flow of innovation by participating in the conversation. Digital discrimination can create win-win situations; Christmas shopping for my girlfriend was made easy this year by positive discrimination being applied to me by women’s fashion through retargeting. Rather than going hunting for gifts my girlfriend might like, gifts my girlfriend had already viewed came hunting me.

1 E-Marketer, 2016
2 BBC, 2016. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37847647. Accessed on 12 Dec 2016.
3 Vitality, 2016
4 Guardian, 2016. Admiral to price car insurance based on Facebook posts. Accessed on 12 Dec 2016.

Article originally published by MediaPost here.

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