Five ways data analytics companies and ad agencies can work together to connect with consumers

Two decades ago, the notion of targeting messages across media channels using analytics was a marketer’s dream. But the cost of execution outweighed the return on investment. Advances in technology now make this a relatively simple, low-cost exercise that suits most business models. Despite this, some campaigns still fail to live up to expectations.

Why? In a word: execution. While most marketers have all the tools they need, they often stumble when they don’t take the time to develop an in-depth understanding of their customers enabling them to deliver a more personalized experience. Instead, agencies often tailor their messaging based on algorithms and click behaviour, without segmenting customers into distinctive target groups to maximize the effectiveness of their messaging.

So what can advertisers and their agencies do to make efficient and effective use of their media spend? Here are five ways analytics and agencies can help each other.

  1. Involve analytics early

Data analytics firms, creative agencies and media planners each play unique but complementary roles. Analytics companies help bring the audience into focus through client-centric segmentation. Creative agencies personalize the message based on those segments. And media planners help deliver that message to the channels that are most closely aligned with those segments.

But putting these roles into silos prevents the free-flow of information and makes it difficult to execute a customer-centric model: from audience selection to execution, measurement and adjustment. The most effective campaigns are the ones in which all analytics, creative agencies and media planners work together throughout the life of a campaign

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  1. Data analytics companies and ad agencies need to get together

Data analytics companies and agencies often use surveys to collect their own data on consumer behaviours, but because this information isn’t standardized, analysts and account reps struggle to reconcile the two data sets. The data analytics companies responsible for building customer-centric segmentation need to make it easier for execution in an omnichannel world.

What does that mean? It means that segmentation needs to be available as a selection across the different media execution channels. For example, using the PRIZM5 segmentation system which classifies Canadians into 68 lifestyle types, marketers should be able to select segments 01 (Cosmopolitan Elite), 04 (Suburban Success) and 05 (Asian Sophisticates) across the mobile bid stream to target those who your clients have determined as their core customer. Once everyone is on the same page, they’ll be able to work together to use a common segmentation system across their assets.

  1. Let analytics guide the creative

Analytics doesn’t impede the creative process, it enhances it. Knowing your audience can help you create a better campaign because it gives the creative team direction. Once the creative team is able to focus on a segment, it can devise a campaign that is more likely to resonate with a target audience. Developing customer-centric segmentations breathes life into these segments. A segmentation-based persona would describe the target consumers using demographics, lifestyles, social values, marketplace preferences and digital behaviors such as social media preferences.

  1. Consumers are getting smarter—engage them differently

The days of targeting males ages 25 to 55 are a thing of the past. The market isn’t homogenous—it never was. Marketers need to be able to craft targeted messaging across many channels to be successful. Today’s audience defines itself by who they are, how they think and how they act. Marketers need to think in those terms, too. The traditional tools media agencies have long relied on are ill suited to fully answer these questions to select their audience. Media companies embracing third-party data and incorporating them into their media platforms to develop a more complete view of their target segments are getting better results.

  1. Choose the right message for the right medium

Attribution continues to be a major challenge across marketing channels. Getting the right marketing mix for both digital and offline channels, as well as understanding how earned and paid activity are helping to create new customer opportunities remains key. Marketers need to understand the customer journey and how the mix of the media channel serves that goal. For example, a new car launch might have three components: awareness, engagement and conversion to a lead. Each component of the campaign should have clearly defined key performance indicators that should be matched to the customer journey and what the expected behavior should be.

If companies don’t have the data expertise to track these indicators across the various media channels, then a trusted third-party company can help complete the picture. This challenge will only become bigger as digital spend (digital video and mobile) is expected to grow by 50% plus to well over $3 billion by 2019, according to a recent forecast by Zenith. Let’s hope that analytics companies, creative agencies and media planners are up to the challenge and work together.

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Paul Evans

Paul Evans is executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Environics Analytics.