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Beyond GDPR: what now for digital marketers?



There were varying degrees of readiness in the marketplace for the introduction of GDPR on 25 May. Larger businesses are typically further forward, given their ability to allocate resources and create specific project teams. Smaller companies are either bringing in outsourced partners or more often having to absorb the requirements into ‘business as usual’, which was always going to make meeting deadlines more challenging.

That said there was always an acknowledgement from the Information Commissioners Officer (ICO) that all companies may not be 100% compliant by the 25 May 2018 deadline, however, as long as there is work on going and plans in place, this is a good start.

Larger organisations face additional challenges with governance and might simply have lost track of access privileges. For example, do internal analysis teams really need access to customers’ names and addresses? There is a blind assumption that big data analysis and data science requires access to personal data. It doesn’t.

One of the major hurdles is that some of the legislation is very technical. Depending on whether organisations and team members have had to deal with similar requests previously will depend on how easily GDPR changes can be translated into day-to-day working practices.

The GDPR data reforms are designed to reflect the world we're living in now so all businesses have a responsibility to address their data ownership and use. There has also been a two-year transition period so there is a reasonable expectation for businesses to have organised themselves to be ready.

New world

The issue of ‘marketing consents’ is the number one challenge facing brands post-GDPR. Consumers have been receiving an extreme number of emails asking them to opt in to marketing communications. It is reasonable to expect the size of marketing databases to reduce but perhaps the silver lining will be improved marketing campaign efficiencies. Brands can also use the legitimate interest clause for communications and providing they have created a number of scenarios as to who can fall under this category and what they can do with these eventualities. Customer service via social channels, competition and promotional prizewinner liaisons are examples of these.

Consultants and analysts who have well-designed data management processes are likely to be at a significant advantage – for example they may already operate on the basis of data minimisation and anonymisation, while at the same time having no system access to any of a client’s personal data.

Don’t freeze

Any new situation can seem daunting and there is a real danger that many teams will experience uncertainty and perhaps even a certain amount of ‘marketing paralysis’ as a result. No brand wants to be on the receiving end of an ICO complaint/enforcement action. The maximum fines of €20 million or 4% of annual turnover will be a significant amount for any company to have to pay.

It is important to note that there is a range of actions other than fines that the ICO can take that are more likely, certainly when a business has made a concerted effort to be compliant. These include warnings, reprimands, ordering specific compliance requests and communicating data breaches.

Marketing teams are undoubtedly one of the most impacted departments by GDPR due to the amount of consumer information and data used in marketing campaigns. However, stay calm and do what marketers do best – focus, target and creatively execute. Targeted campaigns might be reaching a smaller circulation but they will be reaching people who are engaged in your brand and want to hear from you and the rewards will be reaped in results and cost efficiencies.

Now is not the time to panic! Well thought out brand strategies, hyper-targeted campaigns and strong insight-led creative will continue to drive success post GDPR.

Peter Harris is data science director at If Agency

All copyrights for this article are reserved to The Drum

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Vice overhauls its UK Studios division



Vice has overhauled its Studios division in the UK which has seen managing director Kevin Sutcliffe depart, not to be replaced.

Sutcliffe joined Vice in 2013 from Channel 4, where he was deputy head of news and current affairs, taking on the managing director role for Studios last August.

According to Variety – which broke the news – with his exit the role will not be replaced. Instead, the former general manager for Viceland, CJ Fahey, has been promoted to general manager for Vice TV and Studios across EMEA which will see him take on responsibility for Vice’s TV and Studios output.

Fahey was most recently responsible for negotiating the landmark deal to bring 900 hours of Vice content to Channel 4’s digital platform, All 4.

In addition to Sutcliffe’s exit and Fahey’s promotion, Yonni Usiskin has also been given the creative director role at Vice Studios in the UK.

The overhaul of the Studios team is part of a wider attempt from Vice bosses to unite the UK Studios and TV business (Viceland) units under one leadership team.

It follows several rounds of redundancies across the global business, which has seen Vice lose approximately 2% of its 3,000 US employees and 4% of Vice’s 400-strong EMEA workforce.

It has also made a number of crucial high-profile hires in the last six-months, including Nancy Dubuc as CEO and former Havas executive Dominique Delport as chief revenue officer.

Elsewhere, the BBC’s Tamara Howe was also appointed to the newly created role chief content officer for EMEA earlier this year.

All copyrights for this article are reserved to their respective authors.

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Connecting head and heart: The new anatomy of advertising personalisation



Personalisation in the advertising industry probably began 60 years ago when Lester Wunderman first invented the idea of direct mail and the concept of targeting messaging to individual consumers.

It took the rest of the industry a few years to catch up but catch up it did and so began half century of mailboxes piled high with “personal offers” addressed to you, or similar(ish) to you, or someone who lived in your house three moves ago.

While it was understood that the more personalised the approach, the more likely it was to be read; the execution was too often poorly carried out, losing the impact for the intended consumer.

However, just as personalised advertising was approaching its half century it had the opportunity to reinvent itself with the advent of the internet. Digital advertising enabled newer, better opportunities for targeting, tailoring and personalisation. However, collectively the industry failed to treat this new toy with the appropriate respect and so consumers went from junk mail in the post to being stalked online by a product they might have idly clicked on during last week’s lunch break.

These blunt-force trauma tactics applied by the industry could be less like a friendly invitation to respond, than doorstep intimidation demanding money (or at least attention) with menaces.

Getting personalisation right is the Holy Grail of digital and as a result of conversations with clients, rarely get past social niceties before it’s brought up. Every client demands personalisation because they realise (much like the first agencies to get typists to address individual mailing labels) it can drive instant, measurable results to the bottom line, especially when sat on top of a smart e-commerce platform.

The steady move to e-commerce over the last two decades has increased the need for personalisation. Even the most traditional of companies, who may be used to selling through distributors, dealers and partners, are actively looking to incorporate e-commerce in their channel mix. However, this can be confusing to businesses relatively new to digital thinking as traditionally, the e-commerce and customer experience have been kept separate from each other.

Customer experience has taken the role of relationship builder or the “heart” of a brand, while the e-commerce function acts as the “head”, powering transactions and operations. For a truly personalised experience, head and heart need to converge and work together.

To date, the commerce experience has tended to be behind the login wall where it interacts with enterprise systems – often on an entirely different technical platform, with an entirely separate team to the front-end customer experience, which often sits under marketing’s purview. This can mean that personalisation is also disjointed with the front office employing tactics like geo-targeting or device analysis to tailor recommendations, while the back-end deploys different tools from logged-in journeys using more specific data to proactively suggest products aka The Amazon Approach.

However, adopting a truly joined-up approach requires not just lip service but substantial investment in infrastructure such digital platforms or data capability and more importantly, a true culture shift for many organisations.

Customer experience is now recognised as a journey that connects all touchpoints, meaning that personalisation needs to seamlessly span multiple channels regardless of where the customer is. As a result, the concept of “headless e-commerce” is starting to gain traction, recognising that customer experience is best handled by a unified experience platform for a more harmonious approach.

This approach recognises that the path to personalisation may begin way before a customer reaches a site. Advances in programmatic advertising can now not only crunch the analytics on visitor data before displaying an advert but can apply dynamic creative to assemble a creative execution targeted at that individual. This data can be passed onto the website on click through, replacing the outdated concept of a “landing page” as the site itself can be fully personalised for the visitor – down the product or service recommendations determined even before a customer reaches the e-commerce engine. Crucially, this can be done without using any personally identifiable data and so avoids issues around GDPR.

Once the customer reaches the logged-in experience, then the granularity of data increases exponentially and new AI (artificial intelligence) tools help to bring this information together rapidly with customer specific data such as purchase histories aligned to other sophisticated data sources. For example, ASOS can use AI to match clothing images that customers upload to similar items in their catalogue.

Some tools even combine this with external data such as local weather forecasts to tweak recommendations – imagine if ASOS can suggest an umbrella that matches the new coat you bought last week that can be delivered with a drone to your office just as the heavens open?

Now that personalisation is officially a sexagenarian perhaps it’s time to retire the old way of working and thinking to really maximise the e-commerce experience to create experiences that transcend organisational silos and enhance the customer journey.

All copyrights for this article are reserved to their respective authors.

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Brand Positioning

Norwegian CMS startup Sanity wants to kick content creation out of the 90s



As a digital marketer, you’ve more than likely to have had a run-in with a content management system (CMS). If you’re lucky, you might even get to use one every day.

Whether it’s WordPress, SilverStripe, Drupal or Django, tucked away in the backend, it’s easy to take these painfully functional workhorses for granted, but one Scandinavian startup thinks the status quo is well overdue for an overhaul.

Sanity is the product of Norwegian digital agency Bengler and co-founders Øyvind Rostad, Simen Svale Skogsrud, and Even Westvang, who want to build a CMS native to the connected world its forebears were never designed for.

“Most people working today don’t even want to think about their CMS systems,” said Westvang, Sanity’s CPO, to Business Insider Nordic; “I think it’s obvious that existing solutions [have] been stuck in the late 90’s for many years.”

The idea for Sanity stemmed from its founders’ own “personal discomfort” with CMS, who found the most common platforms were time-consuming, and ultimately, no longer fit for purpose in a digital ecosystem built on seamless connections between website, smartphones, social media and video.

Sanity is trying to eliminate a reliance on page structure as the governing principle of content creation. The product acts to centralise all content within businesses while taking into account new technologies and platforms, and also caters for real-time edits to the same content across numerous sources.

“For many companies, the website becomes the primary source of truth on what they’re doing,” said Skogsrud; “What you should do is structure your content around what your company actually tries to achieve – the projects, the people and the clients – and get rid of the page as the organising principle.”

Enabling for real-time content collaboration across teams, Sanity stores content in one database, allowing for distribution via integrated APIs to smartphones, web pages, or even brochures or coffee tables books – the key point being, that where the content ends up should not need to be predefined.

According to BI, the idea came about at Bengler when working for client OMA, a Dutch architect. Using one data source, a combination of “architectural images, presentations, books, crediting and timelines”, the team were able to create a website, business development tools and print-ready portfolios.

“Working with structured data let us unlock achievements like looking up their buildings on Instagram over APIs and adding a content curation interface to the CMS to allow adding them into the data repository, and onto the website,” explained COO Øyvind Rostad.

“Along with external news sources and their own activity we created a real-time narrative of how their works are being used.”

Backed by a suite of clever features and integrations, what Sanity really gifts to the market is a refreshed (and well overdue) perspective on content creation and its place within branding strategy and communications.

It’s not a stretch to imagine forward-thinking agencies adopting Sanity for their clients. At the same time, however, it’s also easy to imagine that many companies will be reluctant to kick their old addiction to the archaic.

Sanity is now looking to expand what it hopes to be a “category-defining” offering following a $1.1m (£880k) seed round from tech investors and founders in its home market, with sights set on San Francisco.

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