Big data Q&A: How can marketers get the best return on investment?

Q: Many marketers are still not enjoying the benefits big data can offer. How can they exploit its full potential to transform their businesses?

A: Big data has to be applied in a practical way that brings about measurable return on investment for the advertiser. Consumers are actually willing to share more information about themselves these days than ever before but, in return, they expect it to be used in a way that means they receive targeted communications which are relevant to their interests. The common misconception is that you have to collect every single piece of information that’s available. But what marketers should be focusing on is the right data so they can create a clearer customer view in order to display the right ads to the right person at the right time on the right device. A focus on sales performance produces a return on investment.

Q: You talk about the right device; why is this so important?

A: I still get ads aimed at me that are completely generic. I think ‘How can you waste your money sending me this? Don’t you know anything about me?’ Sometimes I’ve even bought the product already. The senders clearly aren’t using the data to join the dots. Marketers have to realise that this data is only useful and actionable when it’s analysed and utilised effectively. All too often it’s reviewed and applied in isolation. Marketers need to remember how many touchpoints they have with their consumers – offline, online, in-store, desktop and mobile. Each offers an opportunity for brands to form a clearer picture of this consumer. They need to join the dots, through the first and second purchase. What might this consumer be interested in? If they’ve just bought some brown shoes, for instance, would a pair of black trousers go with them?


Q: Retargeting is clearly an important way of getting closer to customers, especially as they use multiple devices. How can marketers make it work for them?

A: Before I buy something, I might look at it on my phone and then visit the site again on my tablet before using my desktop to actually make the purchase. Our latest mobile e-commerce data for the first quarter of 2016 reveals that 39 per cent of UK e-commerce transactions now involve multiple devices. Used properly big data allows marketers to identify that I’m the same consumer across these different devices. But marketers need to make these connections. To do this they can use an “implied match”, in other words they can pair the user with a device based on their user and navigation history. This works to some extent, but isn’t very precise. The second option – and this is what we use at Criteo – is to create an exact match. This involves using a unique identifier for each consumer that can track them across all devices. It’s anonymous and we don’t hold any of their personal information, but it means that whether they’re using their smartphone, tablet or a desktop at work, this identifier allows us to build up a detailed, accurate profile of the consumer, including their likes and dislikes and their shopping behaviour, as well as the kind of product they might be interested in. Once brands have built up this detailed knowledge of the customer, they can then deliver relevant content to them and engage shoppers wherever they are online. This is great for the consumer and it cuts down on waste for the brand.

We believe in data-driven, people-centric marketing with accountable performance metrics

Q: With Criteo, a retailer only pays when a customer actually clicks on advertisement. Why have you taken this approach and what do your customers say about it?

A: We believe in data-driven, people-centric marketing with accountable performance metrics – all advertising will be executed like this in the future, in my opinion. Everything comes back to the cost of sales. We’re looking at actionable shopping intent rather than just the consumer demographic. We need to make sure we measure the performance and that we link our clients’ ad spend with revenues achieved. That’s why the advertiser only pays Criteo when there’s a click on the ad. Advertisers are only going to want to stay with us if we’ve generated sales for them. Marketers like this because it’s transparent and shows when advertising is working.

Q: Most marketers are already well advanced with their plans for Christmas. What advice would you give them?

A: Preparing early for your holiday campaigns is the best way to make the most of the gift-giving season, so if they haven’t started already, they need to. It’s absolutely critical that marketers do not run out of budget during the build up to the holiday season. As consumers start to spend more on themselves and others, the challenge for brands is to put the budget into activities that are delivering a good return on investment. It’s easy to spend a lot of money on poorly targeted campaigns, especially at this time of year. Capitalising on Christmas also means making sure that targeting is accurate by having cross-device solutions in place. Be flexible; if one channel outperforms another, then be prepared to reallocate budgets accordingly. Finally, don’t forget e-mail marketing. We know that personalised e-mail retargeting is five times more responsive than social media and 1.5 times more than non-personalised display advertising. People receive e-mail on laptops, mobiles and tablets so, as always, just make sure that it’s co-ordinated across all devices.

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