Data is helping advertisers and brands know their audience and gain insights into customer behaviour. But for companies to really use data successfully they need to understand the consumer on an individual level in addition to what they search online.
Mark Lindsay, sales director at Experian, says: “If we take, for example, a student who has a passion and an interest in high-performance cars, and they’re online, and they’re looking at websites with expensive cars.” “Does that mean that we can understand from that behaviour that, actually, they’re in the market for expensive cars, expensive goods, and services? And should we target them in that way? Well, probably not, because they don’t have the means to buy those products. So understanding who they are is as valuable as understanding what they’re doing online.”
To help get a broader picture, Lindsay explains companies should be looking at data from a wider perspective.
What is important, Lindsay points out is to segment customer behaviour. Experian does this through its cross-channel classification system Mosaic, by examining the demographics, lifestyles, preferences and behaviours of the UK adult population. “It classifies individuals and households in the UK and puts them into groups and types of similar people so that we can better understand the likely behaviour and the likely propensities of people that sit inside that segment,” he says. “The activation of those segments in the digital environment really makes sure that that insight is actionable.”
For example, within Mosaic, one of the segments in the UK is called Bank of Mum and Dad. Households where a grown-up child, still lives with their parents and they are leveraging off the Bank of Mum and Dad. “For advertisers, that’s a really interesting dynamic to understand,” he says. “If you’re an automotive organisation, for example, the different car buying behaviours of the Mum and Dad will be different from the son or daughter. “Mum and Dad might want an expensive saloon, the son or daughter might be interested in a cheap and cheerful runabout. So understanding that dynamic through segmentation is really important.”
According to Lindsay, it is also more cost-effective as marketers no longer have to pay double for data and use audience inventory from another source as well as their own. Mosaic allows companies to combine their own customer insight with the platform to create customised consumer segments in real time. But, Lindsay points out not all customers are appreciative of the science and marketers need to be aware that consumers also need to feel comfortable about getting personalised targeted information. “All those elements need to work together,” says Lindsay. “Consumers and individuals have to trust it, have to see the value, have to get relevant– a right message at the right time. But at the same time, the economics of it needs to work. Advertisers need to see effective marketing. And of course, all of that within a solid regulatory environment, so everything is safe and secure.”
For the future, Lindsay expects we will see a continuation of what’s happening now. “The consistent use of data across multiple channels to deliver a more consistent experience for consumers,” he says. “When you go on your mobile, when you look at your social site, when you’re watching TV, you’re getting consistent messages from brands with consistent offers. What will happen is we’ll get more real-time feedback that, then, data science can use to create more relevant and more responsive messages in the marketing environment. It’s exciting times.”
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