Continuing The Great (Mobile) Data Debate
Contributed by Jason Uechi, YP Mobile Labs
Just a few weeks ago, the industry’s leading marketers, data scientists, and strategists gathered in Beverly Hills for the “Cars & Stars” Mobile Media Summit. One thing was clear: the world (as we know it) has gone completely mobile, changing the face of marketing and advertising in its wake.
Think back to a time – not too long ago – when marketers needed to cast a wide net with their media buys in order to capture the attention of the broadest audience possible. Today, the pendulum has swung. Thanks in large part to the rise of on-demand computing power and practically infinite server storage space, marketing solutions powered by “big data” make it possible to target, reach, engage, and convert audiences with precision like never before – with the promise being the ability to reach the right customer at the right time (ideally, when they are in the process of making a purchase decision).
This has all left me with one lingering thought for mobile marketers: data itself is not the answer.
Why? You see, those of us who live and breathe all things digital media know that there is no shortage of data. There are literally billions of data points that we have to evaluate for each campaign, every single day. The real task at hand then, for marketers and data scientists alike, is to give these data points meaning; in other words, identifying the human stories that are at the very core of these digital ones and zeroes.
But telling the story of the modern mobile consumer is not an easy task in and of itself. The new consumer journey is one that sees shoppers zigzagging between devices, platforms, and the online and offline worlds, taking them on multiple twists and turns (aka, searches) before ever setting foot in-store or actually making a purchase. The challenge here – and this is quite a fun challenge – is weaving together data with consumer behavior to paint a picture that brings this new consumer journey to life.
To accomplish this, you need to work with a full stack partner – like the experts at YP – every step of the way, from data acquisition to campaign delivery (and beyond). And as fragmented as today’s consumer journey may be, one could easily say that the marketer’s journey through all this data is far more complex. There’s really never a “finish line” for a marketer – each campaign provides more data and more opportunities to refine and optimize for future campaigns. But that’s the only way we can work towards building better, more effective digital marketing campaigns in the future.
The role of a data scientist is to dynamically “connect the dots” (aka, data points) in order to identify and understand the triggers that lead customers to an in-store visit or to make a purchase. Simply “buying” audience segments from a data provider or counting clicks and impressions haphazardly from digital marketing campaigns won’t answer that question. Even with all the mountains of data we have access to in this programmatic world, one thing is clear: if data gets lost in translation from online to offline, from click to purchase, from intent to performance, there is absolutely no amount of sophisticated probability theory that can recover marketing dollars lost.
That’s why transparency is key. It means going deeper into what the data truly means as well as what it can say about the behaviors and actions of your target customers (aka, insights). But you will never get the full story by only paying attention to what happens during the run of a campaign. Optimizing for success starts before a single marketing dollar is ever spent and stretches well into post-campaign insights and business analytics. And it doesn’t end there. The beauty of all this data is that it encourages us to keep on learning and refining; the end of one campaign is merely a starting point for the next.
As I said before, there are mountains of data out there to work with. But data alone isn’t a prize unto itself. It’s only as good as how we use it. Our job is to sift through that data and convert it into knowledge that helps marketers get closer to their target customers. Data isn’t the answer to all of our marketing problems, but paying attention to the stories it tells us will help us get there.
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Categorized in: Thought Leadership