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Build more emotionally engaging experiences with a personalized data strategy

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Consumers are demanding more from brands than ever before – more relevant, consistent and personalized experiences across devices and channels. And as a result, brand marketers are facing increased pressure to understand, anticipate and deliver on these shifting expectations.

Just because marketers know where their audience has been online, doesn’t mean they understand what consumers want. Planning a trip to Austin? You Google it once and get retargeted with flight deals for weeks after already purchasing a ticket. Brands can inadvertently alienate customers by relying on old, one-dimensional audience segments and fatiguing them with content they’ve already seen or no longer want.

A successful audience management strategy requires fresh, emotionally engaging content. Brands can do this by moving away from traditional segments and toward real-time, individualized data to elevate the digital experience. Here are three audience management strategies marketers can use to supply new and captivating content.

Get the full picture of your audience

Developing a holistic understanding of your audience – their intent, interests and behavior – is the single most important factor in building more meaningful customer relationships. Create multi-dimensional audience segments using first, second and third-party data sources to achieve a 360-degree customer view and level of hyper-personalization that helps foster lifelong brand loyalty.

Using the trip to Austin example, a marketing platform that can ingest multiple data sources would have captured that the flight ticket had already been purchased. As a result, the customer would be best served with recommendations for restaurants and tourist destinations in the Austin area rather than flight deals and rental cars. It’s important to take the personalization even further. For example, if the customer bought just one ticket to Austin, they may be planning a work trip or meet-up with friends, whereas if they had bought four, it’s likely the trip will be more family-oriented. These factors are important to track and analyze as they will inform vastly different experiences.

A model is only as good as the data it’s fed and combining multiple data sources (CRM database, analytics data and partner data) will help you build a complete audience profile and surface more intelligent insights that add real value for your audiences.

Harness up-to-the-minute insights using a holistic customer view

Now that you have a holistic view of a customer using multiple data sources, you must analyze and act upon real-time audience data to deliver the right content at exactly the right time. Using stale information can lead to content that is overly generalized at best and irrelevant at worst.

For example, the customer that had been looking at flights to Austin may have changed their mind — recent visits from a partner’s travel site shows they are interested in Mediterranean food. Updating your audience profiles based on real-time individual behaviors will reveal preference changes as they happen. Then, it’s as simple as updating their profile – or combining (perhaps Austin AND Mediterranean?) – to ensure it is yet again complete, enabling you to send them content that adds value and promotes engagement.

Activate your audiences

Your audience segments are only as valuable as the experiences you use them to deliver. Often, brands use different systems for marketing and advertising making it nearly impossible to reach the same audience across channels – and if you do, odds are they could be delivering different messages to the same audience. Plus, many of these systems may have segmentation capability, however, with the systems not connecting to each other, the segments in each system may have overlapping customer data.

As a consumer, brands that reward my loyalty with personalized offers are the ones I keep going back to. If a brand gives me points for subscribing, following and downloading their app, I’ll do it…if, and only if, they work to personalize their content. That said, I don’t want to see offers for the same women’s jeans from my favorite department store across every channel. Providing personalized incentives that add value across different touch points are what keep me coming back for more.

This isn’t a lesson just for B2C brands. Even B2B software companies are building loyalty by tailoring outreach with relevant content like e-books to the right audience on the right platform at the right time.

The best way to reach the same audience across multiple platforms is to build an authoritative definition of your high-value audience segments, and equally important, a seamless way to engage them across channels, from email; to display ads; to social; to voice.

Avoid becoming the Monday morning spam by consistently updating your audience management strategy to keep consumers engaged. Churning out fresh, emotionally engaging content personalized to the consumer is essential. To do so, marketers must keep audience profiles updated and informed by multiple data sources to have the best view of the customer. Then it’s as simple as letting the experience drive the loyalty to keep them coming back for more.

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10 questions with… Anna Watkins, UK managing director of Verizon Media

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In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Verizon Media's UK managing director Anna Watkins.

What was your first ever job?
It would have been washing my dad's car to earn my £1 pocket money each week. Smart man.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
Relatable.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
@POTUS is truly mind-boggling.

what is the highlight of your career (so far?)
Working with such a creative, inspiring and intelligent bunch of people every step of the way.

What piece of tech can you not live without?
It's baffling that I was born in London yet still seem to use Citymapper every day.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Adam Ant and Count Dracula (aged 7). I'm not quite sure what that says about me.

In advertising, what needs to change soon?
We need a truly diverse workforce.

If you could change anything about a social media platform you use, which one and what would you choose to do?
It’s more a question of changing myself – I need to flex my creative muscles if I’m ever to make more than one friend on Tumblr…

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
Scarface / Sign of the Times / War and Peace – delusions of grandeur, mine and theirs.

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
The big awards bashes – it's like going to a series of weddings where you know half the guests.

The Drum's 10 Questions With… runs each week with previous entries available to view here.

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Mobile carriers end data sharing with location aggregators; should marketers worry?

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The collection and use of real-time mobile-location data has emerged as a critical piece of the larger data-privacy debate. A recent run of negative stories have conveyed the impression that location data usage by marketers is tantamount to spying on consumers.

We’re also starting to see lawsuits, like one recently filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney against the Weather Company, for allegedly misleading consumers about how their location data would be used. More suits will likely follow.

Carriers cut off data sharing. The negative coverage and exposure of some high-profile abuses have motivated major U.S. mobile carriers to cut off location data sharing with third party “location aggregators.” The latest to do so is AT&T, following a story by Motherboard that indicated carrier data was getting into the hands of unauthorized third parties — bounty hunters, in this case — and being used for legally dubious purposes.

As a practical matter, these moves are unlikely to significantly impact use of location data by advertisers on major platforms or in the programmatic ecosystem. AT&T owns AppNexus; Verizon owns Verizon Media Group (the rebranded Oath). Location data will probably still be available to advertisers on these platforms — they’re not “third parties.” (We’ve asked Verizon for clarification on this point and will update the story if they respond.)

Calls for more regulation or legislation. Location data are so valuable and widely available that abuses are inevitable. Some of these increasingly frequent reports are adding momentum to calls for federal data privacy legislation. The carriers’ decision to cut off location aggregators is at least partly an effort to preempt investigations and potentially forestall regulation.

Some location data companies embrace the proposition of clear regulatory or legislative guidelines, however.

For example, PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall recently told me in email: “I think that the California Consumer Privacy Act and hopefully a similar federal law (as a state-by-state patchwork of different laws would be good for no one) will not only give consumers protection and confidence, but will finally give the digital data and location data ecosystem a well-thought out set of rules and guidelines to adhere to. This will bring stability and predictability to the industry, and help weed out some of the “wild west” players that have had no interest in investing for the long term good of the ecosystem.”

Most location-data companies also say they adhere to ethical data-collection practices and are scrupulous about being “good actors” in the ecosystem. Some are vocal about the responsible and/or socially beneficial use of location technology. And some organizations (e.g., NAI) are seeking to enforce transparent and ethical data collection standards. Foursquare told me in email that their apps and partners seek opt-in consent for use of location data.

Why you should care. Location data is available from a wide range of sources in the market, including app developers and the programmatic bid stream. The loss of carrier location is not a significant blow to the ecosystem.

However it is reflective of a trend toward the tightening of access to location information more generally. While it remains to be seen whether federal privacy legislation passes in 2019 (multiple bills have been proposed), California’s Consumer Privacy Act will go into effect January 1, 2020. Other states may enact similar or more strict laws, which would lend further impetus to comprehensive federal legislation.

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Catalina adds first attribution tracking service

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Best known as a provider of retail marketing intelligence based around loyalty cards and in-store printed coupons, Catalina this week released its first attribution service.

Called Catalina Multi-touch AttributR, it traces a path from digital advertising — in various channels on various devices — to a purchase made in a store with a loyalty card. The company is able to track purchases down to the UPC bar code level.

At the level of the Diet Coke flavor. Coca-Cola, for instance, can now track how a web site ad shown on a computer affects the purchase of a Diet Coke, as well as whether the flavor chosen is Twisted Mango versus Ginger Lime. Additionally, the attribution service can report if it’s the first time this consumer bought Twisted Mango.

Previously, Catalina measured how its printed in-store coupons affected buyer behavior, but it didn’t track the impact of ads. The new attribution solution is the company’s first effort to link digital ads to buyer behavior, and it plans to add addressable TV ads to the system.

Catalina tags the digital ad with its own attribution pixel, which is called when the ad is shown and provides data on the specific campaign deployments.

But the connection between the ads shown, the various devices used by a single individual, and the in-store purchases are actually made by consumer data firm Experian on Catalina’s behalf, through such persistent identifiers as phone numbers or email addresses.

“Not in the business of knowing who you are.” In the new attribution service, the retailer sends the loyalty card ID to Experian, which matches it with the digital cross-device profile of a given individual and with the ads shown to the user on those devices. Experiam then returns a report to Catalina that uses an anonymized ID.

Catalina CMO Marta Cyhan told me the company deals only with anonymized IDs because “we’re not in the business of knowing who you are,” although Experian does have PII.

The data is updated daily to a self-service dashboard for brands (see below) and, since Experian tracks profiles, the attribution can also include the effect of ads on repeat purchases, new buyers of a product category and other consumer behaviors.

Difference from NCS. Catalina, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, is also known as a partner in Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), which employs data from the in-store coupons and loyalty cards. But, Cyhan said, Catalina’s new attribution measures individuals across multiple channels deterministically, since the actual people are known through the Experian matching, while NCS is focused on measuring single channels through probabilistic modeled data.

Additionally, she said, Catalina’s new solution is updated daily, includes buyer behavior changes and provides granularity down to the UPC level, while NCS provides post-campaign reports on overall sales lifts.

Why you should care. Catalina’s shopper data is used widely by marketers, and this first attribution service will help brands determine the impact of their paid media spend.

Additionally, Catalina is providing a very fine level of granularity, down to the individual product bar code, with a very high level of certainty. This approach could provide the kind of accurate, return-on-spending results that major consumer brands have clamored for.

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