Promotional feature

Using data to find the unexpected audience

Data at its most granular gives brands deep insights into their customers

We like to think of audiences in terms of homogeneous groups, but there are a lot of reasons why we buy specific products. Understanding those reasons and responding to them can drive improved efficiency and scale in advertising, suggested Konrad Feldman, CEO and cofounder of Quantcast, during a panel session titled Unlocking the Unexpected, held at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Feldman was joined by Slavi Samardzija, global CEO of Annalect — an Omnicom company — and Swan Sit, VP of global digital of Revlon, for the Quantcast-sponsored event.

Oversimplifying who a brand’s customer is and losing the richness of the audience are pitfalls to avoid. This is a particular challenge for the beauty industry, said Revlon’s Swan Sit.

"There are so many different types of women who use makeup, for different reasons, and with different styles," she noted. "Understanding who they are, what they want and at the right time, and where they are in the purchase funnel is really exciting but also really complicated."

Making the wrong assumptions about the customer, and then speaking to her in the "wrong" way, could mean you’ve lost that customer forever. "If you try to sell antiaging cream at a $250 price point to a customer who is in her 20s and doesn’t have the income to purchase it, you’ve lost her completely," noted Sit.

The level of data available today is far more granular and available in far more real time than it used to be, offered Feldman. "Understanding audiences has always been important, but as our ability to do so at a more granular level has improved, we have to get better, not only because competitors are going to get better, but also because consumer expectations have changed. Consumers expect more relevance and utility in the interactions they have with brands because of what is possible."

"We can use data at its most granular level to really see and feel the audience in a way that helps to drive strategic application," Samardzija said. "We can do that today."

While the data is more granular, machine learnings provide you a broader view of the audience.

To achieve success, the process requires an understanding of what you are trying to achieve with the data you are collecting.

"What is it you are trying to achieve? What are the right data sources and analytics to achieve that?" Samardzija asked. "If you have a strategy of how you are going to use data, it becomes a living system that you can fine-tune and utilise."

You have to set specific goals, Sit agreed, with a little gray in between as you test and learn. The days of buying media in the beginning of the year and forgetting about it won’t fly in today’s marketing environment. "We look at data weekly so we can pivot as we go," she explained. If something isn’t working, you have to be willing to let it go.

"Goals are the incentives, and incentives drive behavior," said Feldman, both within the business and with all your partners. If you have a north star, then you are in position to evaluate all your marketing and advertising activities to ensure they align.

"You start to run into problems when you have conflicting goals or lack of clarity on them," he added.

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