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Moving from AI to ‘applied intelligence’ to identify revenue sources and deliver business value

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As companies increasingly adopt CRM technology and improve their data governance, they now have more customer and prospect data than ever before. They have reams of sales and marketing metrics. Yet in the post-GDPR era, with plummeting data confidence, growing numbers now admit the sales funnel is broken.

With a challenging economic climate and Brexit looming, it is not poor products or services that are compromising business success: it is companies’ inability to close new business, or even identify a new market opportunity.

Data starts to go out of date the minute it hits the CRM – and companies are wasting huge resources targeting the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong message. Companies need a far better approach to identifying the core market; approaching the best contacts; and creating messages that resonate. And that model has to be underpinned by real-time insight that encompasses not only standard contact information, but also the key events, from funding rounds to staff hiring, that indicate a prospect’s readiness to buy.

With a constant feedback loop provided by ‘applied intelligence’ (Revenue AI), companies can rapidly identify revenue opportunities, reach out to prospects, and deliver business value.

Broken sales funnel

Companies are still struggling to come to terms with the disruption to inbound and digital marketing and sales methodologies created by the introduction of GDPR. But in many ways the lack of confidence regarding the way data can be stored and used across different geographies is a long overdue wake-up call: companies have been compelled to admit the poor quality of data and the resultant inefficient and ineffective marketing outreach.

The issue is not simply the time wasted in marketing to out dated contacts; it is far more significant. Companies are wasting time marketing to businesses that are simply not in the market. Why contact prospects with no budget, or that have just made redundancies rather than a new business that has just received a funding round, won a significant deal or added staff? Effective outreach is not just about ensuring contact details are up to date: it is about leveraging detailed, up to date insight to rapidly identify new revenue streams.

Data wake up

Customer and prospect data can be both an incredibly valuable resource – and a liability, depending on its depth, relevance and, critically, timeliness. Whether companies have invested in CRM or are still reliant on spreadsheets to record customer and prospect data, there is now growing awareness that these static data resources are contributing to sales and marketing failure.

Data is always in motion – from job changes to acquisition – and as a result these data resources are continually degrading. Approximately a third of data degrades every year, and most sales teams are using data that is up to 60% out of date. New opportunities must be recognised; an existing customer moving to another company creates a new business opportunity and champions promoted within an organisation can mean the chance to upsell or expand. Damage to customer relationships – from churn in sales and customer service teams – can simply be offset wit good data governance. To gain the data confidence required to identify and close new business, and achieve revenue growth, a completely different approach to data sourcing is required.

Real-time insight

Static CRM data is no longer good enough; organisations need access to fresh, accurate and GDPR compliant data. In addition to the two dimensions of company and people, adding the third dimension of events and fourth dimension of real-time data completely transforms the way in which a business can identify and reach its total addressable market.

Access to a deep and accurate customer data resource will immediately plug the gaps in the existing information and, therefore, enable companies to ensure that time is not wasted by reaching out to dated contacts. But that is just the start. The real bottom line opportunity comes from using Revenue AI to better understand the core market, from purchase triggers to decision making personas.

Applied intelligence

A deep understanding of a customer base enables a company to create a number of specific buying personas which can then be used on a wider data source to rapidly identify highly targeted new business opportunities that have previously not been on the radar. In addition to locating new prospects within existing geographies, this model also provides a fast track route to expansion into new areas – a key consideration in the post-Brexit world.

And with each new outreach campaign, the responses are fed back into the system, providing further insight and better understanding of personas and their reaction to specific messaging – it is Revenue AI’s positive feedback loop that ensures the sales and marketing activity retains momentum and continues to deliver value.

Conclusion

Every business needs to maximise its sales and marketing capacity to drive business growth. But without total confidence in data quality and depth of data resource, sales and marketing activity is by default inefficient and unfocused. With inadequate, untrusted data, how can an organisation use its existing network to accurately understand its customer base to identify its total addressable market or respond rapidly to an event driven opportunity? Current outreach activity not only wastes time with out of date contacts but, even worse, is patently failing to maximise revenue growth.

Not only can companies rapidly identify new revenue opportunities, but a deep and accurate customer data resource can transform the timeliness and accuracy of sales and marketing activity: companies are not only prioritising outreach activity, but each prospect interaction is more focused and relevant to each persona. From job changes to sales wins and recruitment drives, the events that have been identified as key to a business’ market can support well-timed, persona-driven contact at the optimum moment in the sales and buying cycle.

The change is fundamental: no more reliance upon the single star sales person – who then ups and leaves. No more focus on irrelevant or unachievable metrics. Instead, companies can take a far more scientific and structured approach that leverages trusted real-time insight to identify the total addressable market, define the relevant contacts and embark upon a far more effective outreach.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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Who should take advantage of IGTV first?

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YouTube has had a near monopoly on the long-form video space — until recently. Instagram’s IGTV is here and it looks like it could be a formidable competitor. IGTV is the popular social media platform’s very own vertical video app, which is designed to allow brands, influencers, and creators to post longer segments; allowing for videos up to one hour in length, compared to the previous length of only one minute.

IGTV will almost certainly develop as a bona fide YouTube competitor, at a time when YouTube may be in its most vulnerable state. Here are the most likely reasons why:

IGTV could be a brand safety oasis

YouTube is especially sensitive to IGTV at the moment due to brand safety concerns. For the past year, YouTube’s biggest challenge has been assuring advertisers that their buys will be safe. At one point, 250 brands stopped advertising on the platform altogether. And, while almost all brands have returned, and YouTube has invested heavily in being a better partner, half of advertisers say YouTube has done a poor job with brand safety and managing inventory quality.

For IGTV, this is a gift. Though it has been careful not to say so explicitly, Instagram will likely be positioning IGTV as a more curated and brand-safe environment than YouTube. Brands want an alternative in light of safety concerns, so they’re looking at options from Snapchat and other premium publishers. We see this in our own spend data, with YouTube ad growth almost completely flat; increasing by just 0.2% from January to May.

So, what can brands do in the interim, whose main concern is brand safety? The instinct is to be cautious. But that may not be the right answer. Instead brands should be clear and firm with expectations. Brands first to market will be able to push Instagram to be brand safe – to demand it – and IGTV has the opportunity to challenge Google Preferred by providing brands with a transparent, brand-safe solution to YouTube’s shortcomings. However, the platform has to prove it by example first.

YouTube has made significant strides in showing advertisers that they are taking brand safety concerns seriously (e.g. the implementation of whitelist and blacklist technologies, partnering with DoubleVerify). IGTV has to be brand-safe out of the gate — or at the very least, safer than its competitor — to draw those advertisers away from YouTube.

Advertisers will like IGTV for performance

Beyond brand safety, IGTV could beat YouTube on performance. Over the past two years, the demand for performance by digital media has exploded. Last year, brand frustrations culminated when P&G and Unilever, two of the world’s biggest advertisers, dramatically cut ad spend due to concerns around transparency and ROI. Ad budgets are being scrutinized more than ever and a growing number of operations are being taken in-house.

This ties back to IGTV and YouTube in a few ways. First, according to ANA data, influencer marketing has surged. Seventy-five percent of brands are spending on influencers and nearly half will increase spending in the next year. Why? Sixty percent say they’re happy with the performance they’ve seen, with Instagram being the second-most popular channel for influencer programs, just behind Facebook.

Instagram has established itself more strongly as a performance channel than YouTube and it offers an unmatched ability to drive purchases. That’s an advertiser’s dream, of course. A recent study, reported by RetailDive, and conducted by Dana Rebecca Designs, revealed that 72% of users have made a purchase decision as a direct result of something they saw on Instagram. YouTube, by contrast, has helped with purchase decisions already planned. If Instagram can deliver similar performance through IGTV, advertisers will come calling.

Retail brands, specifically those that are significantly reliant on online shopping, should realign their budgets to make IGTV a priority, as IGTV will be a great resource for driving the right type of customers toward a purchase.

Instagram is growing, while YouTube is not

Unfortunately for YouTube, brand safety isn’t the only major challenge it has grappled with recently. In addition to ad growth, viewership numbers have begun to slow down. A few months ago, major channels and influencers on YouTube saw their monthly views stall. An analysis by eMarketer echoed this pattern, noting that YouTube’s audience growth was 13% in 2016 but only 9% in 2017. According to the report, “YouTube viewership is nearing saturation in many markets.” Those numbers are likely to continue to erode.

IGTV, by contrast, is only just getting started. Its growth prospects are bright. Instagram’s user base is growing by 5% each quarter. The company recently announced 1 billion monthly active users. YouTube has more at 1.8 billion, but Instagram hasn’t shown any signs of plateauing. Also, consider that consumer tastes have shifted towards vertical video as mobile viewing has exploded. IGTV is a vertical video-first platform, while YouTube only added vertical video compatibility in January. The viewership trends are in Instagram’s favor, whereas YouTube is playing catch up.

YouTube could wonder about its ability to maintain audience numbers if top stars and influencers desert it. At its core, Instagram is a social network. YouTube, by comparison, is not. Most come to YouTube for personalities like Smosh and Jenna Marbles. But if the personalities go away, so do the viewers.

In recent months, some influencers haveeither left the platform or chosen to diversify their content across challenger services such as Twitch. As YouTube tightens brand safety and copyright controls in an effort to calm advertisers, creators are concerned that the cleanup is leading to “viewer suppression” and demonetization. IGTV has already partnered with popular influencers such as King Bach and LeLe Pons for its launch, and any blowback among YouTube’s community of stars will only help it attract more creators.

Tread cautiously

IGTV’s opportunity to become a brand-safe, performance-driven, vertical video alternative to YouTube isn’t just hype. That being said, brands should remain vigilant during this time, and not act on impulse once IGTV decides to monetize. Some may be tempted to dive right in, due to the influencer-heavy list of content creators on the platform, but IGTV will have to prove it has learned from the woes of its competitor, before it can truly outshine YouTube.

Todd Krizelman is chief executive officer of MediaRadar

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Group Nine centralizes branded content team with launch of an in-house studio

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Group Nine Media is bringing its branded content strategy under one roof with the launch of in-house studio Brandshop.

The digital publisher announced today (11 December) that Brandshop will bring together the creative services teams across its four brands — NowThis, Thrillist, Seeker, and The Dodo — and the branded entertainment piece of its production studio Jash.

Group Nine president Christa Carone said centralizing everything will better inform the outlet's editorial strategy.

"The campaigns, the videos, and all of the programs we're developing are entirely informed on the insights that we're seeing from the audiences that engage with our editorial content. So, when an advertiser asks what young are people interested in, [we have a] robust set of data to be able to answer that question in an informed way," Carone told The Drum.

According to Nielsen, Group Nine reaches over 80% of US adults in their 20s. Group Nine brands earn more than 140 social engagements each month, per Listen First Media.

Yosef Johnson, senior vice president and head of Brandshop, will lead the new studio. He called it a "holistic new shop" across Group Nine's four brands.

Group Nine is the latest media company to push a brand content strategy. Condé Nast recently set up its own agency and brand consultancy in the UK.

Carone said Group Nine is seeing "very healthy, double-digit growth" in the area, and that as a social-first publisher it has a unique position in offering branded content.

"We lean very heavily into the social platform. It's one of the reasons we know advertisers want to work with us, because we are known in the marketplace as being one of the most robust social-first publishers, so our learnings from that are helping advertisers better understand how they can engage with younger audiences on social," Carone said.

Digital media currently stands on some shaky grounds as it competes for advertising dollars with giants such as Facebook and Google. BuzzFeed's chief executive suggested a merger among media companies could help publishers better compete.

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Marketing Day: Facebook’s ad tests, Alexa’s email feature, Hulu’s OTT ad marketplace

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Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

Recent Headlines From MarTech Today, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Marketing Technology:

Online Marketing News From Around The Web:

The post Marketing Day: Facebook’s ad tests, Alexa’s email feature, Hulu’s OTT ad marketplace appeared first on Marketing Land.

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