a4uexpo live. Together We Can Make The Numbers Work Harder.

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From a personal perspective, I know that I am always knee deep in stats and spreadsheets on a daily basis, as are my clients and colleagues.  This session explored the reality of the issue and what can be done to make data as useful as possible.

The session posed an interesting question: do we spend too much time producing data and not enough using it? 

Chris @ Quidco

Chris was able to demonstrate how data has been instrumental in providing a high level of customer insight in order to develop the Quidco product and flourish in becoming much more than a traditional cashback site. By understanding the needs of the demanding customer, they have been able to tailor their strategy for example, did you know that 10% of customers influence the other 90% ?  Also, whilst 80% of CEOs think their business provides a superior customer experience, only 8% of their customers agree.

Chris raised the question that customers may not actually know what they want. So whilst customer and market research can provide a degree of insight, data provides actual customer behaviour and true measurability of marketing activity. In order to get the right message at the right time, it is essential to have the right data.

Angela @ Found

In contrast to data defining your offering, Angela focussed on the use of data for the purpose of optimising campaigns and navigating the myriad of variables posed by PPC campaigns, resulting in improved customer offerings and increased ROI.  By showcasing their Autoglass campaign, Angela showed how keyword data provided insight to the search queries driving traffic and geo targeting data allowed for the right customers to be targeted.

Strangely, a pie chart for mobile platforms was given as an example of something that may not be useful, but could potentially be used to target messages. Could this have been an example of too much detail in data analysis, or is it simply a case of an insight provided by data that had yet to be fully exploited? 

Smarter automated reporting and alerts allowed for quick responses in the PPC space and increased cost efficiency by serving ads at appropriate times and targeted to the appropriate audience. A great example of increased data insight that wasn’t time consuming, due to the fact that it had been well set up and given the appropriate response

Tom@ Matalan

As many online merchants would probably agree, it seems that advertisers can be sometimes swamped by data originating from all channels, as well as having to justify their activity internally.  As a result, there may be a degree of risk that too much time is spent producing data and not enough spent harnessing the potential.

However, without doubt data has value if presented properly.  This may demonstrate the need for publishers and networks to help filter out useful insight from the overwhelming array of information that may be available.

Matalan stated their case that full analysis of customer behaviour (how, why, what, when etc.) is available and can be used to make decisions on when and how to invest in affiliates. Data has indicated lower margins from affiliate originated customers, but better incrementality. This level of insight can make the case with internal departments and ensure buy in for the affiliate channel.  After all, hard data can’t be argued with, although the analysis can always be manipulated to suit the case. 

So, do we spend too much time producing data and not enough using it?

The overall conclusion from the session was time generating and analysing data is time well spent- Quidco, Found and Matalan all provide great examples of this. Constant improvements in technology and a customer willingness to provide feedback mean that we have the potential to acquire greater insight than ever before.

Of course, in a seminar situation, we are always going to hear about positive examples about uses of data, rather than cases where over analysis resulted in a poor use of time and resource.  I believe that it is always necessary remain aware and avoid the potential of reporting for reporting’s sake, or losing sight of the initial requirements of the data.

As discussed in the Q and A session, goals and a clear overall vision are required in order to maintain data’s raison d’etre.  If related to the business strategy, then there’s no reason for it to be a help rather than a hindrance.

One issue raised was that networks could facilitate the sharing of data to help improve program performance, and a suggestion was made that the industry was too secretive. Given a network’s position in dealing with rival publishers and rival merchants, there is a fine line to tread in maintaining client confidentiality- perhaps that will form the next debate.

David Hughes

David Hughes is Strategic Account Manager at affilinet and has over six years experience in online travel sales and marketing. He has managed a wide variety of blue-chip brands, most notably Eurotunnel, Harveys The Furniture Store, Hillarys Blinds, Matalan, P&O, Mytravel, Teletext and TUI.

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