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. 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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We are proud to announce that the Gain Theory team in India scooped the Best Omnichannel Customer Experience Initiative at the Customer Experience Awards for ongoing services delivered to Nestlé, India.

The awards, now in their tenth year and part of the Customer Engagement Summit in Mumbai, honour the highest level of achievement in customer experience across the Indian community and pay tribute to organizations that lead the way in providing best-in-class customer service.


Winning this award validates Gain Theory’s outstanding delivery to create a world class consumer engagement services model for Nestlé.

In the digital age, the ever-evolving world of consumer services either makes or breaks the way in which an organisation is perceived – all it takes is one tweet or a Facebook post for a trivial issue to be blown out of proportion. The Gain Theory Customer Engagement Services (CES) team for Nestlé India ensured customer service is approached holistically with the help of our multi-channel engagement process.

The Approach: Enhancing Consumer Experience 24/7

The number of consumer contacts received at the CES centre has increased almost three-fold. The goal for Nestlé India was to produce a multi-channel always-on engagement strategy that could successfully handle consumer complaints and queries received at the centre.

With this goal in mind, a three-step strategy was created:

  1. Cross platform consumer engagement (social to ‘traditional’ and vice versa)
  2. Personalising the experience
  3. Keeping consumers involved in the engagement journey

Execution of this three-step strategy was enabled via the help of our cross-platform engagement process. When a query or complaint is received it is approached with a 360-degree perspective – the communication medium is made irrelevant and consumer experience is given the highest priority. A complaint received on Facebook, for instance, is immediately picked up by our social media team, the consumer is contacted directly to get a better understanding of the complaint and a resolution is provided in the shortest possible time.

During the engagement journey at the CES centre, a consumer is kept involved in the resolution process. From the moment a complaint is registered until it is resolved, all concerned stake holders are kept updated every step of the way.


At Nestlé’s CES centre in India, Gain Theory has consistently set industry standards for others to follow. Customers now determine the experience they want and expect companies to deliver it. Our trail blazing approach to consumer engagement has not only delivered beyond these expectations but also made competitors stop and do a bit of course correction. Our approach has resulted in:

  • Leaving consumers feeling pleasantly surprised off the back of real time responses to positive and negative queries on social media
  • Helping Nestlé India earn the trust of the consumer
  • Helping to create a positive outlook about Nestlé and give consumers the confidence to register a complaint with the guarantee of a resolution to a query or complaint.
  • Developed a positive environment not only for the consumers but also the employees, who take pride in resolving consumer concerns.

The awards and accolades have further strengthened Gain Theory’s resolve to provide best-in-class consumer engagement.

To read excerpts from the interview with Mr. Chandrasekar Radhakrishnan, Head of Communications, Nestlé South Asia Region, published in afaqs! click here









AI and voice recognition promise to accelerate consumer adoption of smart devices, writes the global CEO of Gain Theory.

Last year, CES was most aptly described as more of an evolution than revolution. The reverse is true in 2017. This year’s event was a complete game-changer. Behind the high-profile, attention-grabbing gadgets is a very clear commentary on how voice recognition, artificial intelligence and smart technology have combined to irrevocably change the relationship between brand and consumer for the better.

“Smart” was the prevailing theme at this year’s event—and I saw (and heard) it everywhere. From lightbulbs to toasters and TVs to vacuum cleaners, the devices on display didn’t just “do”—they thought. Smart devices themselves are not the real game changers here. It is AI and, in particular, voice recognition, which promise to accelerate consumer adoption.

Relevance, ease-of-use and trust have all been barriers to consumer adoption and, until recently, many smart devices were controlled by a smart phone. The ability to turn lights on and off via a smartphone has been around for some time but not necessarily widely adopted. Frankly, why get off the sofa to grab your smart phone to turn off the lights when there’s minimal additional effort to simply walk over to the light switch? Voice recognition was the crucial missing component—and it was all over CES.

So it wasn’t surprising that Amazon’s Alexa stole the show.

Next generation smarter devices
With seven microphones embedded into the Echo device and machine learning at scale with automated speech recognition, Alexa’s response is almost instantaneous in helping to control lights, thermostats, door locks, sprinkler systems and even order an Uber at the command of voice. Amazon has opened up Alexa for integration using a free API and, according to GeekWire, Alexa now has over 7,000 “skills” (Amazon’s word for integrations) from just a 1,000 in June 2016. With reportedly 5 million units of Echo sold to date and fast growing integration of Alexa with other devices, the ease of use and relevance of smart devices is likely to accelerate consumer adoption with some predicting that 2017 will be the year smart home goes mainstream.

On another front, traditionally non-tech brands are moving into the smart device market, partnering with tech creators to fashion an array of new products. For example, Hair Coach, the world’s first smart hairbrush, is a collaboration between Kérastase (part of the L’Oréal Group) and Withings, who bring sensor technology and app connectivity to everyday products. The brush has microphones that pick up on various audible cues on the state of your hair and shares its data via a mobile app.

There were also a multitude of toys and educational devices for children. Fisher Price announced its intent to launch a high-tech exercise bike for toddlers and Lego announced a robot-making toolkit for kids. Lego’s “Boost” toolkit enables children ages seven and up learn to code and build robots, bringing their creations to life by adding movement, sound and personality.

Manufacturers as maintenance managers
Until recently, retailers held the keys to unlocking direct conversations with consumers. Having a detailed understanding of customers purchasing habits and demographics have helped them to communicate one-on-one with consumers, build strong relationships and increase future sales.

Manufacturers, on the other hand, have remained relatively in the dark beyond the number of units distributed, relying on third parties to help inform them of the end sales volumes, pricing and demographics of customers. The advent of smart technology has the potential to change that by enabling the manufacturer to gain a deep understanding of customer behaviour after the product has been purchased (assuming the customer grants permission). Smart fridges will automatically reorder items when they run out. Automotive manufacturers will know when your journey cannot be completed with your current fuel levels and alert you when driving to your nearest/most convenient/cheapest gas station.

Implications to marketers
Smart devices with voice recognition and AI will not just dramatically change the way in which consumers interact with computers, but also the way in which brands market to and build relationships with consumers due to the vast increase in data and resulting insights.

Retailers of consumer electronics, manufacturers, energy providers, telco operators and others will have a real opportunity to build even stronger relationships with customers by helping them to navigate the smart home. Joining up all the devices, ensuring strong security, diagnosing and solving problems for consumers as they integrate new technology as well as providing on-going subscription based support will strengthen brand relationships if done at a level that results in surprise and delight.

Machine learning, the ability to process data at scale and make intelligent decisions and recommendations in real-time will require a different approach to marketing in the future.

On its 50th anniversary, CES has indeed (re)found its voice and it’s clear that there’s a major step change in the technology we interact with every day, with voice recognition likely to be the biggest revolution in our lives since the smart phone.

Manjiry Tamhane is the global CEO of Gain Theory.

Article originally published by Campaign US  here



In a competitive pitch, Gain Theory – the global consultancy that helps brands maximise value from marketing – has been selected by Aviva, the multi-national financial services company, to deliver an always-on measurement and optimisation programme that will help them understand and predict the impact of media on short and long-term sales.

Aviva will utilise Gain Theory’s cutting edge proprietary cross channel measurement techniques across TV, Online Video, Social, Out of Home, and Display to boost their brand and sharpen their response spend in channels such as paid search, SEO, and Email. Gain Theory will continuously measure campaign results to help Aviva optimise their media investments and achieve their strategic goals.

James Henderson, Head of Marketing Performance at Aviva says “We’re on a journey of brand evolution and Gain Theory are the ideal independent partner to support us in really understanding the value of our total marketing effort.   We are already yielding powerful insights allowing us to optimise our spend and increase commercial return across a changing media and channel mix.”

In December last year, Aviva launched its Good Thinking strategy, which has helped evolve the brand from marketing campaigns primarily focused on motor insurance to a brand that has a bigger social purpose. The strategy objective is for consumers to recognise Aviva as a key player in the savings, investments and pension arena but more importantly empower them to take control of their finances by encouraging them to examine their own financial behaviours and attitudes. Aviva partnered with Gain Theory before the launch of Good Thinking to help develop an optimal media plan, optimize their marketing investment and identify which products within their portfolio should be supported. The campaign delivered a higher ROI than any previous Aviva brand campaign.

Matthew Chappell, Partner at Gain Theory says “I am delighted that Aviva has selected Gain Theory to continue on a partnership that is delivering the company sustained growth. The results so far on the Good thinking strategy are testament to how best-in-class measurement, optimisation and advice can have a positive impact on all areas of Aviva’s marketing spend. It’s really exciting to know that our advice will help them to grow and adapt to the ever-changing world of financial services.”


For more information contact:

Claudia Sestini
Global Marketing & Communications | Gain Theory




FT event logo


The influence of the marketer within organizations is continuing to grow. Due to real-time marketing, social media and data analytics, marketers are becoming more informed about the competitive landscape and the customer than other functions within the company. This invaluable knowledge means that their authority is increasing and they are frequently being looked at to drive the strategy within their organizations.

As the need for measurable ROI increases, data analytics presses its prominence and we’re seeing the rise of the marketing technologist. The future for marketers is bright, but also exceedingly encumbered and the marketer wins will be the one who can sort the substance from the noise.

Preparing for a connected future with next-generation technologies

Wearable devices, the Internet of Things and virtual reality are all proving themselves to be valuable tools for reaching out to consumers in an ever-more connected world. Developing clear strategies for a connected future is vital for marketing professionals, but what will they look like and how can marketers fit into the emerging technology eco-system?

In an on stage interview, Manjiry Tamhane – Gain Theory’s Global COO & CEO EMEA – will delve into the topic of the Internet of Things and whether it is indeed a marketer’s friend or foe.


If you are a client-side marketer or insight professional and would like to join us please email

Date: Weds, September 16
Venue: 10 on the Park, 60 Columbus Circle, 10th Floor, New York 10019
Time: 08:00 – 17:00 EST

So, the fifth series of the ever popular Downton Abbey is now on its second episode. Did you watch it? Did you watch live or did you catch up? Did you avoid the spoilers? Over the past few years the show has gained a huge following and caused a number of shocks, whose waves are felt over social media. These days, to avoid the spoilers, you almost have to watch Downton live.

Downton Abbey is no exception, following a summer of blockbuster TV ‘events’ such as the World Cup, Great British Bake Off and regulars such as EastEnders and X Factor. These now make up a small subset of shows you “have to watch live” on linear TV.

The majority of viewers now catch up on at least some of their programmes on catch-up TV (according to Thinkbox, the average TV viewer watches 6 half hour programmes a month on catch up). Add YouTube and services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, who are between them creating increasing amounts of new content, to the mix, and it quickly becomes clear that the TV viewer has more options than ever. This creates a huge series of opportunities for the advertiser.

We have bucketed these opportunities into Audience, Format, and Content. It is not only important for the brand to fully understand the available options, but to understand how differences in delivery can be measured.

Audience: who is watching VOD?

The traditional use case for using VOD alongside TV to extend reach, increase frequency and target younger viewers is still valid. However, in the last 18 months the profile of consumer watching VOD has changed. The proliferation of tablets, smart TVs and smartphones and the increasing usability of VOD apps means the user base is growing.

In the early development stage the user base was mostly young, early adopters; now it is much broader. According to Ofcom, half of all UK adults now use video-on-demand services1. VOD is still a good space to attract the hard-to-reach 16-24s, but, depending which programmes are targeted, it can be a great place to target other parts of the audience mix.

Format: increased engagement?

The rise of the internet has gone hand in hand with a rise in consumers wanting everything for free – and crucially, not wanting to be advertised to. According to research conducted by by MetrixLab2, 94% of all YouTube pre-roll ads are skipped. How brands deal with this is a hot topic in the VOD world. One clever example is from VW, who skip the advert for the consumer, in a creative that’s clever and memorable. 

In the catch-up world, different types of interaction are being created and tested to boost user engagement. This could go from clickable video (with the video becoming a hyperlink to the brand’s website), to ad bloom (where the video is embedded within a microsite – and ad weather (where the content depends on the weather in the viewer’s area)3.

Whether these options are viable depends on budget and messaging. But in an increasingly cluttered market, engagement is key, and anything that increases this can only be a good thing – as long as the benefits outweigh the costs.

Content: addressable is king?

There comes a point where targeting and interaction link: addressable content. Here is where the copy depends on the person watching the ad. Complicated algorithms are able to deliver different copies to different people watching the same programme. It has been trialled by Sky and is utilised by YouTube.

A lot of insiders believe this to be the future of advertising. It has the ability to cut out clutter. If I just happen to be watching TOWIE and see half a dozen cosmetics adverts, the money these companies are spending is wasted. If ITV know what I’m more interested in, there’s no waste.

But like interaction, it is expensive. Whether it is worth it depends on a number of factors. Our job as marketing effectiveness consultants is to make sense of a client’s spend to assess whether any additional money spent is effective, be it in interactive copies, more targeted messages, or addressable content.

Best practice

Best practice will depend on your brand. It will depend on your target market, the creative, the messaging, the proposition, whether you’re online or offline or both. We strive to find the right solution to our clients’ questions, and our tailor-made methodology and unbiased view of marketing and media will always secure this.

However, as VOD use rises, and the options for advertisers grow, it will become an increasingly attractive option for media planners. If you’re a large insurance firm who wants to reach those hard-to-target parts of your mix; if you’re an online retailer selling a specific range, where advertising on YouTube means you can target super-specifically at relatively low cost; if you’re an FMCG brand who wants to sell a new product to a younger audience; if you’re any of these then VOD is likely to be an effective solution.

Planning a VOD campaign requires a number of considerations: do I run the activity on its own or alongside TV, Social, or other media channels? At what time of year do I run the activity? What weight of spend should I put behind it? What data is available to measure success? Each situation is unique, but at Gain Theory we can help you answer these questions and more, in order to help you plan and measure success of you latest VOD campaign.




3.     For more info on VOD ad types, please see the deepen section of thinkbox’s guide to VOD:

The first official UK Twitter TV ratings were released this week. This comes after a series of moves from Twitter this summer to give brands access to greater insight into their Twitter performance across organic and paid activity. Indications are that Twitter is keen to start providing brands with more information to support their advertising decisions and to cement its position as a complement to TV advertising. But what do these changes really mean for brands and how they can measure the effectiveness of their activities on Twitter to make more informed decisions?

So what’s new?

The new Twitter TV Ratings are part of a collaboration between Twitter and Kantar Media and, in addition to existing measures already available such as the total number of tweets about a TV programme, will provide unique reach and impressions for these conversations. The launch builds on moves from Twitter earlier this summer to give brands greater access to Twitter reach and impressions data, and provides an industry measure for the relationship between TV and Twitter audience figures.

As benchmark figures, the ratings are expected to benefit both broadcasters and TV advertisers in defining their social media strategy – particularly those advertisers looking to integrate their social media and TV activities – by indicating which programmes generate the greatest online reach and interaction and therefore how to focus supporting social media activity by ad spot and audience.

The underlying trend towards Twitter gradually providing more access to true reach figures is perhaps the most significant point for brands, as the metric provides a useful benchmark for Twitter performance against that of other digital and non-digital channels.

Until recently, sought after reach and impression measures were only available to advertisers for their paid posts. But for measuring the reach of other posts (their own organic tweets or tweets from their competitors, influencers or wider community), brands have had to rely on tracking potential impressions, which social analytics tools calculate by summing the follower counts of tweeters and retweeters to determine how many times a tweet could have been seen. This metric fails to factor in duplication within follower counts or whether followers are online at the time of posting and has left many marketing professionals sceptical as to its usefulness. Earlier this summer, Twitter began introducing actual impressions data to the market across all advertisers’ posts including organic, a metric every user can now see at

Although the ratings and associated tool are currently limited to displaying aggregate reach figures by programme (as opposed to broken down by tweet or individual user), as more granular information becomes available brands will be able to understand the performance and reach of competitor activity in more depth and identify influencers, not by follower count as many do currently, but by the true reach of their activity.

What it means for measurement

Deciding how much resource to allocate to Twitter and other social media platforms, whether in place of or integrated with other marketing channels (be they TV, print or other digital media) has, to date, been a difficult decision for brands to make. The lack of any meaningful or consistent measurement has made it difficult for marketers to communicate the value of social media channels to senior stakeholders and has resulted in most businesses adopting a cautious approach, with Twitter and social media marketing more generally receiving less attention and investment in the overall marketing mix than perhaps it should.

The availability of Twitter reach data and more specifically Twitter TV Ratings will enable marketers to more accurately benchmark Twitter against that of other digital and non-digital channels and add insight into the opportunities presented by integrating social media and TV activities, supporting those stakeholder conversations and marketing mix decisions. But to understand the business value of Twitter activity and to maximise ROI, marketers will need to look beyond the benchmarks reach metrics afford. After all, how can we be sure that reaching someone via Twitter will have the same impact and value as reaching someone via another social channel like Facebook or via a more traditional channel, for example a TV ad?

It is only by using additional analytics to link back to the underlying business goal (whether sales or other brand metric) that businesses can make informed decisions as to their optimum marketing spend mix and social media strategy.

On a beautiful mid-September day in New York (what’s all this about the last day of summer being Labor Day?!) global industry leaders – including Kraft, OgilvyRED, Expedia, Xaxis, Twitter, Coty, Pfizer, McAfee, MasterCard and Dr Pepper Snapple Group – met to discuss the future of marketing.

The hosts – The Financial Times – put together a fantastic programme covering many aspects such as: Millennials; US population diversity; big / smart data; omni-channel shoppers; digital storytelling and commercialising mobile.

With a wealth of information and knowledge imparted during the day, it’s a challenge to decide what aspect to tackle.  But let’s look at the title of the event and ask the question: what is the “future of marketing”?  Not just in the future, but now, we have to concentrate on Millennials (or Generation Y depending on your terminology).  There is no precise date range for when Generation Y began or ended, but typically birth years ranging between 1980-2000 are used.

Why are Millennials so important?  In the US they comprise roughly 27% of the population1 and, in terms of purchasing power, by 2015 Millennials will have a global equivalent of $2.45 trillion worldwide2.  To put in context, that’s close to the United Kingdom’s entire GDP in 20123

So what do marketers need to know about Millennials?  Most important point to note is that there’s nothing wrong with Millennials4, and the conversation needs to move on to how to communicate with them.

Millennials continue to consume media such as TV, but just in different ways.  I touched on this point in a previous blog when examining omni-channel shopping – Millennials are almost always connected via another device, whether that’s a smartphone or tablet, and are constantly interacting with other people and brands through that device.  This “always on” generation is almost begging to be engaged with.

And that’s the key.  Engagement.  Millennials don’t like be marketed at in the same way as previous generations.  It’s no longer about telling consumers about a product and how great it is, there needs to be some connection there.  Consumers can search for your product while watching TV, find out everything they can about you, and make an informed decision.  Whether it’s similar values that you hold, a sense of corporate responsibility or just the way you engage on social media.

Millennials also like to feel like they’ve “discovered” a brand by themselves.  The advent of social media has certainly helped – through word of mouth and clever campaigns, and allowing themselves to be influenced by people they consider in high regard, instead of being marketed at.


These “influencers” have generated a huge following with no corporate backing, but now some marketers are using this to their advantage.  Take Zach King on vine (, he has almost 2 million followers and has been hired to promote brand messages through his “vine magic”.  This is very savvy for three reasons:

-the following is already there and he as credibility

-his vines are genuinely fun to watch and will be shared further increasing reach

-and he will be much less costly than using a current A-list celebrity

The final point is an interesting one.  A-listers can certainly increase brand awareness, but the brand has to be right.  Millennials will be sceptical of A-listers promoting a brand or product, and will question whether they have any affinity with the brand or product in question.  Does anyone really believe that Jennifer Lopez would drive a Fiat 500?

This isn’t to say that brands should rush into social media.  Social media marketing is still experimental and brands need to consider which platforms are right for them, and develop content specifically for those platforms. There are many pitfalls and many examples of what can go wrong


“The future is now” is an oft used and clichéd phrase, but it really is.  Millennials born early in the generation are in their mid-30s now and currently enjoying considerable purchasing power.  Engagement in social media is almost a must to reach this group.  And new social media should be explored for commercialisation as soon as possible – although not a “new” social media, we know anecdotally that younger Millennials are turning away from Facebook in favour of Snapchat.  Why?  Their parents aren’t on Snapchat.  Building brand awareness with this group now will pay dividends in the future when they have the purchasing power to act on it.

 Notes / Sources:

1. US Census Bureau (Estimate based on 15-34 year olds in 2012) (

2. Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (

3. United Nations Statistics Division (

4. For the sake of transparency: I am a Millennial

© Gain Theory 2016. All rights reserved.