Data, data everywhere but how should marketers use it? | DMA

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Data, data everywhere but how should marketers use it?

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In the final blog in our series I look at the powerhouse of one-to-one communication – data.

How much data will we see and what will it look like?
New devices will generate data, lots of it. In this constantly connected world, devices send data continuously over internet protocol (IP). Cloud computing is enabling and providing a storage solution for this data explosion.

There will an increased demand for APIs, or open data from brands, not for personal information, but for data points that can be used, reformatted and used to bring a new understanding – creating the so-called Internet of Things. Image and facial recognition, along with various biometric opportunities, will be increasingly feasible in a variety of contexts.

How will data insight improve people’s lives?
With so many devices connected, we may see the formation of ‘social media’ networks for machines. A washing machine that texts when a cycle is complete is not very useful. However a connected washing machine is beneficial when it can contact the manufacturer and report faults. A network of connected washing machines can provide data to improve operating efficiency, new product design or predict faults before they happen (and order the part in readiness).

Data can be used to solve many problems – from major health issues, to delivering a better, more efficient customer service. It does also raise questions of privacy, both between users (taking a picture with the wink of an eye), and individuals and businesses (the privacy of stored data for instance). With Google Glass using eye tracking, even involuntary movements may be recorded and stored in the cloud.

What are the challenges for brands?
The typical view is that brands see data as an opportunity for more marketing, but it’s important to understand and explain to consumers the difference between personal data in marketing and anonymous data points from data. As highlighted earlier, brands have more often been using data for decades to measure, understand and improve their products and services – more so than to send out more marketing communications.

There is, though, a risk for data on a macro level – from governments to industrial espionage or cyber criminals – that will lead consumers to become more and more wary about the information they will share.

You only have to consider the reaction to Tesco’s plans to use anonymised facial recognition technology to see how cautious customers can be.

As we see more data being sent to the cloud, how will brands want to use it? Should they even be able to use this data at all?
The challenges of new technologies will create a threat of more legislation that may limit brand activity.

One-to-one communication could be harder and more problematic in these new channels, thus defining the ‘opt-in’ and moving from quantity to quality becomes critical. There is a risk that with many devices and much data, brands create marketing fatigue in consumers. One-to-one communication becomes less effective and consumers will be looking for ‘ad holiday breaks’ from brands.

And the opportunities?
Instead of marketing, customer service can become a brand’s defining opportunity for differentiation and engagement.

Marketers will need to allow customers to create personalised marketing permissions, which not only addresses ‘what’, but also ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how often’.

A ‘cloud of me’ could offer a dashboard to consumers to control what marketing they receive based on their regularity of purchase and specific activities, for example, going on holiday or the varying renewal windows for various insurance products.

What advice would you give to brands/marketers about using data wisely?
It is important for brands not to see data as an exercise in collecting as much information from as many consumers as possible.

In order to collect and use personal data, brands will need to create and maintain considerable trust from users. This trust goes way beyond legal or regulatory requirements.

The role of trade bodies to lead and show best practice is important. Industry self-regulation is essential, as when governments legislate for technology it is often blunt and draconian.

Data can allow brands to become more effective, but it needs to be achieved with the user in mind. For example, while cookies can deliver relevant advertising following a search, brands need to create more effective tracking techniques once a product has been purchased or to understand when the user is no longer interested.

Brands need to harness the power of data to deliver utility and a better service to consumers.

When historians look back at the current era, it will be seen as one of the most innovative ever.

To benefit in this period of increasing consumer ascendancy and control, brands will need to demonstrate an increased responsibility towards data, as well as becoming more agile: adapting to changes faster. They need to think beyond delivering more marketing and instead offer a better, more useful customer engagement and experience.

By DMA guess blogger Jason Cross, Head of Marketing, Edenred and DMA Mobile & Connected Marketing Council member

Read an edited version of all 3 blogs here

Read part 1 of this series, The future of mobile and connected marketing: challenges and opportunities for brands

Read part 2 of this series, Beyond touchscreens to haptic interfaces, gesture and voice control: new interactions and interfaces

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