How marketers can unleash the power of data

Europe’s leading Digital Marketing Exposition and Conference, DMEXCO, returned to Cologne in September for an array of fascinating insights and conversations around the latest in digital business, marketing, and innovation. Ogury’s own Jan Heumueller, Managing Director Central Europe, joined a rockstar panel of industry leaders in an event called “Digging into Data in Marketing – How to Reach Creative Efficiency.” The panel was moderated by the “diva of mobile,” Peggy Anne Salz, Chief Content Officer of MMA Germany, and also included:

  • Timo Benzin, Director Data Solutions & Platforms at Google
  • Deniz Ozer Can, Global Director Creative and Content Director at Bayer Consumer Health
  • Steve Martin, VP Data Partnerships EMEA & APAC at The Trade Desk

This panel provided an invigorating discussion on how brands can effectively architect a data-driven strategy and why such initiatives are more critical than ever to businesses looking to thrive in the marketing world.

To fail is to succeed

The truth is that only 12% of marketers are prepared to build and execute a data- and audience-centric strategy. This, despite years of industry experts asserting the importance of following digital trends, learning audience demographics, observing consumer interest and behavior, and ultimately driving user attention. Data is crucial and can provide incredible value to any marketing campaign if used correctly.

Ozer Can described how Bayer approaches applying data with greater confidence in its marketing initiatives. “We have been looking at data as a marketing asset, and that’s why we have been working on operationalizing it and embedding it within our marketing strategy and execution.”

When thinking about data and technology and how it can create value, the pharmaceutical company uses a three-prong approach:

  1. They ask what their consumers need and if there are any unmet needs. 
  2. They ensure that all stakeholders, the marketing teams, are involved in the decision-making and solution-building processes. Such involvement is critical to avoid problems in the adoption phase, since the solutions are built for the marketing team.
  3. Bayer encourages getting comfortable with testing, learning, and sometimes failing. 

“It’s important to have a culture where the teams feel comfortable to fail at times. If you’re not failing at anything [in marketing] these days, you’re probably missing out on something that will be really critical in the next few years,” Ozer Can remarked.

She also described merging creative, data, and technology as a very complex domain requiring highly skilled partners. For Bayer, those partners include the likes of The Trade Desk and Google, who have helped unlock and activate consumer data to personalize their creatives. For this reason, she believes partnerships are the main enablers that every company needs to have. “Precision Marketing is a big part of how we activate our marketing strategy now, and these platforms enable us to do that at scale.”

Increasing the value of brand data

Brands must also increase the value of their first-party data and use it in their decision-making. Martin asserts that first-party data is the best data asset that any company can possess. And while seemingly basic, the foundational steps of utilizing that information in an activation is getting the data together and sorting it on identity. He explained that the ability to resolve that identity down to the same consumer is incredibly powerful in any activation.

When asked how marketers without first-party data can get the best results from a collaboration on data, Martin said that trust is the most important thing. “Don’t ignore the human side of building trust with whoever you’re collaborating with.”

To Benzin, as the industry scrambles to compensate for the looming loss of third-party cookie data, it’s important to consider that the changes in user privacy and safety are not driven by this loss. Instead, it’s motivated by regulators, and “the fact that we all want and depend on increasing the user experience on the web.” It’s up to industry players to offer consumers transparency and control of what happens with their data. He also believes that when asking users to share their data, providing a real value add to promote a better user experience is crucial. 

Benzin continued to express that while most players seek more identifiers or first-party data, which is important, they should also seek measurement information on conversion values that don’t have to link directly to a consumer or individual. This is important for algorithms such as Google.

Balancing the advertising experience with the user experience

While measurement is of the utmost importance when considering data in marketing, the user experience should not be ignored. How can companies balance user experience while building and refining their audience data?

Heumueller explained the disappearing identifiers and cookies are not only a result of legislative initiatives such as GDPR, but also the fact that users simply do not want to be tracked anymore. “They do not want to share their identity and be targeted. And a lot of brands are taking action based on this and are looking for alternatives which are not based on cookies and identifiers to target single users, but to target personas.” 

With personified advertising, various layers are identified, including the placement, or, where the user is consuming content. These data points are connected with historical mobile usage and mobile journey data, as well as ongoing surveys, to present users with a privacy-first experience. They are not being followed. “We validate the impression, not the user. For Ogury, it’s targeting personas at scale and not relying on identifiers such as cookies or ad IDs.” 

A certain level of collaboration and synergy is required to connect the dots between effective data usage and a positive user experience. But what do marketers have to do or prioritize to unleash the power of their data and drive conversions while being mindful of the experience? To Martin, measurement is key. “Test and learn measurement is the one thing you can’t overlook as a marketer,” he said.

Benzin believes that marketers need to prioritize conversion measurement to drive their creatives’ performance, particularly in times of uncertainty or dynamic times where marketers feel increasingly pressured by their finance department to deliver results. “It is right now the name of the game to really get a holistic view and try to compensate for the losses we have because of regulations and consent losses [preventing us from seeing] what our consumers do on the website,” he explained. “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”

According to Heumueller, marketers cannot afford to waste their advertising budget on serving ads that aren’t seen. In many cases, ads presented to consumers are not fully on screen or viewable, rendering the efforts pointless – a consumer cannot remember what they cannot see. At Ogury, only fully on-screen formats are used to capture the user’s attention and encourage memorability. 

Heumueller continued to explain that in speaking about data and finding the right audience or persona to display an ad, you are again in the area of measurement. It is important to measure not only conversion, but also viewability and attention

Finding the sweet spot

Despite the importance of data, there is still a need for the human side of marketing. Fortunately, the more data you have, the more creative you can be. Some may fear that the more technology and data is involved, the more creativity will be endangered, but according to Ozer Can, the opposite is true.

“Creative is the ultimate blend of art and science in marketing. And machines are now helping us assess the trends and behaviors from the data that is accessible. But still, humans need to make meaning of that trend and of that outcome to find out the deeper human insight.” At Bayer, everything is built on deep human insight, and it is amplified through technology and data. It’s something that will allow marketers to go further and drive creativity.

Advertising has the potential to move mountains when you combine data and creativity. But where should marketers allocate their attention to maximize their positioning? Martin believes “when you have a fantastic creative, make sure you pair it with a fantastic channel.” And Benzin, mirroring Martin’s sentiment, suggests that 70% of the campaign success is driven by the creative, and it needs to be a great creative driven by addressing human needs. However, testing is important to ensure that a great creative is presented on the correct channel.

To Heumueller, technology like personified advertising allows marketers to provide users with future-proof solutions that respect the laws and regulations in place and the user, which is what an advertiser wants. Delivering formats that are seen and creative solutions that the user appreciates will allow you to have scalable success in the future.