Facebook’s walled garden-why marketers should be worried?

Access to the walled gardens’ audiences comes with certain conditions attached — one of which is the lack of visibility on user-level data.Now other internet giants such as Alibaba, Amazon, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Twitter are keeping their data under their own walled gardens. 

 

Google’s technical progress spells increasingly limited data for advertisers. The company prohibited third-party data management platforms (DMPs) from firing tracking pixels in the Google Display Network and pulled YouTube inventory from Google AdEx in 2015, making it unavailable to independent demand side platforms (DSP). So Google use data access as bait for selling additional services, as it did with Mondelez in late 2014 when it required the brand use Google DoubleClick Manager rather than Mondelez’s video DSP, TubeMogul, to buy YouTube TruView ads programmatically.

It almost sounds like the tech prowess of the big digital boys is creating on going barriers for Brands. And the big digital companies own a significant part of global advertising expenditures. In 2016, the digital ad market generated revenues globally of close to $200 billion, up from about $100 billion in 2012, and these revenues are expected to climb to over $300 billion in 2020. As a percent of total ad spending of $660 billion in 2016, digital advertising accounted for about 30% and is expected to account for almost 40% in 2020. The mobile portion of digital advertising is also increasing, moving from about 3.45% of digital ad spending to about half of all ad spending in 2016, and expected to account for almost two thirds of all digital advertising in 2020. Google & Facebook capture almost 43% of the digital advertising pie.

Facebook reports an eye-popping 1.1 billion daily users, but doesn’t say how many of those people log on for hours a day and how many for just minutes. But now Advertisers would also like to have more insight into how long most people use Facebook on a daily basis.Lack of granular reporting forces marketers to trust the reporting platforms offered by the walled gardens. A glitch in the Facebook app, for instance, was recently found to have inflated the reported US time spent using Facebook on mobile devices by up to 40% on iPhones.

What can brands do?

1.Improve Marketing attribution: complex media environment means once reliable marketing performance measurement techniques, such as marketing mix and attribution models don’t work as well. Unifying these two approaches requires new techniques to combine individual-level data with anonymous aggregate data.

2.Try & get back as much data from the Digital Big boys: Google, Facebook, and Amazon can share log files from ad campaigns with DMPs. The logs provide granular insights into campaign exposure and user engagement at an impression level, typically without sharing device or user IDs. This can enable more auditable measurement and insights about what happens within these platforms.
3.Ask Customers for data: e commerce companies are good at it. But every marketer needs to learn the art of asking their prospects & customers for more information & giving them value in exchange for it. CVS promotes discounts to its Extra Care loyalty members on Facebook and asks them to authenticate their accounts by providing their membership number and email address.

4.Use their DMPs intelligently to connect the dots. Interactive marketers use a DMP to leverage audience data collected from multiple channels (including site, email, display, search, and offline customer relationship management [CRM] data) to deliver consistent marketing messaging to users regardless of the digital channel.Marketers can use their DMPs to stage campaigns in ways that give them more granular insight on how ad exposure inside walled gardens impacted consumers. pushing hyper-segmented audiences from the DMP into walled gardens’ buying platforms, then applying an additional targeting approach to these segments — for instance breaking them into smaller age groups. Marketers should tap into internal data sources to start — direct marketing lists, CRM databases, sweepstakes participants, etc. — and connect them to their digital interaction records with data onboarding partners like Liveramp & others.

5.Integrate Marketing teams: Digital teams are often separate from teams like customer relationship management (CRM), customer experience (CX), and Customer Intelligence. Many times the teams don’t report to the same leader. So segrated teams creates silos out of the customer knowledge they possess.

AirBnB & Noise data: How the data handshake improves Customer Experience!

Data’s value increases when it’s shared, and you can make money by selling it. Sharing data allows marketers to better understand who their best customers are, which consumers they should market to, and with what specific offers. Nesta developed the concept of a ‘datavore’ in the 2012 report Rise of the Datavores. This defined datavores as companies which “gather online customer data intensively, subject this data to sophisticated analyses (such as controlled trials and data and text mining), and use what they learn to improve their business. They also report that they are more innovative than their competitors, in products as well as processes. Uber has made its API generally available for any developers who want to find interesting ways to embed the service into their apps. That means any app that can send a destination address to Uber will be able to display pickup times and fare estimates without users having to leave their apps. Legacy companies have to change their mindsets to allow such initiatives to flower. Companies need to be getting more senior people within Marketing or as a separate function own the process of improving Customer experience through smart partnerships. Intelligently done this can open new channels, streamline customer processes & create innovative new products or services. Earlier you could get away without this because business was not so digital. Now your customers, your business operations, and your competitors are fundamentally digital.

But many companies don’t get this. In fact, we don’t value our customer data, even our furniture appears on our balance sheets but value of customer data is ignored.


By 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the internet. At the same time, from 2012 to 2017, machine-to-machine traffic will grow an estimated 24 times, a compound annual growth rate of 89%. The majority of data will be collected passively through machine-to-machine transactions. Although still projected to grow rapidly, the overall proportion of data actively generated by individuals will decline. So a lot of data about us as customers will be passively collected without us even knowing about it.

Catalog retailers have long shared their mailing lists with other retailers to reach a wider audience. And financial companies have combatted fraud by pooling their data into Credit bureaus.

With the growth in programmatic advertising, there are certain categories of marketers with rich first-party data, like retail, travel, and financial services, but many big marketing spenders don’t have such resources. For them, collaboration with publishers or other marketers rich with first-party data is mutually beneficial and drives the success of more sophisticated one to one marketing initiatives.Most marketers have been using walled gardens like Facebook & Google to access new customers & also to learn more about their own customers due to the enormous pool of cross-device consumer log-in data. Marketers are now realising a key limitation, as they put in their data to reach customers but do not get it back to build their own customer profiles and create a true universal view of the customer journey.

That is why we are seeing so much more of second party data.Second-party data is another company’s first-party data that is strategically shared with your brand, in exchange for some of your own first-party data. This is how smart marketers are getting more scale for addressable advertising without losing sight of the whole customer journey in the process.
The world is changing in one significant way-some companies are willing to share information & have started to access data that is available publicly. Open data—public information and shared data from private sources—can help create $3 trillion a year of value according to Mckinsey.

They share data through APIs. There are over 16,784 APIs offered by firms today, according to programmableweb.com. APIs allow different software applications to communicate with each other and exchange data directly, without the need for any human interaction. API’s are now the de facto standard for sharing data, and have enabled organisations that hold large amounts of data to become platforms for third party innovation.

Twillio, for instance, provides a service that allows partners to send and receive voice and SMS communications.18 When a customer receives an SMS message telling them that their Uber driver has arrived, this is powered by the Twillio API.

So, the new-age companies use partnerships through APIs very effectively. Uber uses Google Maps, Twilio (SMS notifications), SendGrid (e-mails), and Braintree (payments) to make the magic happen. Airbnb, too, uses SendGrid, Twilio, and Braintree. Uber allows itself to be embedded into the Open Table and United Airlines apps. The OpenTable app has a ‘Ride With Uber’ feature, making it easy to book an Uber ride with a single click within the OpenTable app.

You don’t see legacy companies doing this – HUL sharing APIs with Philips or Saffola sharing APIs with FitBit? Or, HDFC Bank sharing APIs with the Future Group?

The algorithmic and API-based business will be the business of the future and it will change marketing as we know it.

Also today Marketers have access to a lot of external data. How they mash this up creatively with their own data & produce features that are of value to consumers is going to become very important in the days to come.

Here is an example:How Airbnb can add more value to its consumers?
Airbnb is making travel easier for its consumers & today they have access to a lot of data that can make the consumer’s buying process easier!There is a lot of data available about city neighbourhoods.I thought of this particular example because of Ben Wellington’s article in The New Yorker. He used data points from New York City noise complaints not only to map out which neighbourhoods were noisiest, but why they were noisy.

Noise data

From the screenshot above, you can see that you’ll definitely want to steer clear of two neighbourhood near the Bronx if you hate the sound of ice cream trucks.
How can this help a Marketer?: Imagine if this led Airbnb to import this data & use it to help you in selecting a place to stay. I am fresh from staying in Singapore in an Airbnb apartment which was in a noisy neighbourhood. If this can be created into an index which pops up as I view an Airbnb apartment, it adds another data based layer to my decision of which apartment to choose. You can enhance this with other data like Crime in the neighbourhood etc & suddenly data is actually adding much more value to the Airbnb platform.
So if data based storytelling can be linked to “How customers buy” , that can hugely enhance a customer’s experience & value. Think about how you can do this in your business & use storytelling to impact key decisions in your company & also your customer experience. So Airbnb could get some API’s from another company like How loud.
Soundscore™ is HowLoud, Inc.’s patent-pending technology to build a noise map and deliver data to users. A Soundscore™ rating is a number between 50 (very loud) and 100 (very quiet) that tells you how loud a location is due to environmental noise.

Here is another wonderful example from David Edelman of McKinsey:
Let me give a great example that I personally went through. Sungevity is a company that has reconfigured the entire journey using all of these tools in an incredibly seamless way. They use a Google Maps API to locate houses that have roofs of adequate size, situated in the right latitude and longitude to be able to support a certain minimum amount of solar power.
They then send a direct mail piece, which I also received, to the homes that fit that bill, with a personalized message saying, “If you’re interested in solar energy, type in this URL, because we think you’re a prime candidate.” That URL took me through a very personalized experience. I saw images of my home on Google Maps with solar power superimposed, including calculations of how much money I’d save based on assumed energy consumption. I could also click to talk to someone who sees that exact same information and could walk me through my specific process. When I logged back into the site, it remembered where I was in the journey and immediately adapted. Sungevity has completely thought through all the different moments in the journey and used the functionality and data available to make my experience personalized, simple, and relevant to my context”.

Some thoughts:

  • Strategy: Important to create a data partnership strategy for your company. Assess what data you have & how partnerships can add value to your business strategy.This needs the company to think about designing of products and services with increased emphasis on the consumer experience.
  • Structure: Create a structure within your marketing group to oversee smart data based partnerships.
  • Enhance Revenue: Gartner Predicts 30 Percent of Businesses Will Be Monetizing Their Information Assets Directly by 2016.MasterCard aggregates anonymous purchasing data to sell market insights and retail location insights. ADP and Salesforce use APIs to build marketplaces around their core offerings.
  • Data sharing to improve customer experience:This can help the customer experience in many ways. Walgreens Photo Prints API allows a customer to print web-addressable photos (e.g., in cloud storage) to a Walgreens store of a customer’s choosing.With APIs, John Deere’s strategy changes from equipment sales to farm optimization. For customers or firms with John Deere’s Field Connect monitors, an authorized API call will read soil moisture, air temperature, growing degree days, moisture change, solar radiation, and more. Also data sharing can help companies share data with sales partners, which help in two ways:
    • The data you receive in return adds valuable marketing perspective that you probably can’t get on your own.
    • Sharing data helps transform your channel relationships from transactional into long-term partnerships, which can fend off price competition and open doors to other co-marketing activities.
  • Data enrichment: Data Fusion refers to the idea of combining data from many sources to create a more valuable view of an asset. Look at Zillow, the real estate company that combines many different data sources to provide an estimate of the value of a property.
  • Breadth of data: Companies with a presence across industries & having access to customer data across industry could build rich data partnerships.Conglomerates in India would be a great example.
  • The new API world allows a lot of data to be exchanged. APIs represent an attractive source of potential new revenue for companies, and companies have only just begun to explore potential applications.
  • Privacy: But Companies that want to unlock the value in data need to be able to demonstrate that they can do it in a way that preserves privacy.

Can pooling data be the solution for brands to fight Google, Facebook & Amazon?

Technology companies, from Uber, Google to Facebook, hold growing stores of data about user behaviors. This data has become a source of huge competitive advantage for them. Google uses insights from the Google Display Network and YouTube to create over 100 predefined affinity segments like “30 minute chefs” and “sports fans”.

Today the data size that these companies own has become so large that government officials and academics want access to it. Uber recently shared a treasure trove of transportation data that it said local officials could use to help cut down on commute times and improve traffic flow.

context marketing

Uber Movement shows data for four cities — the Washington metro area, Boston, Manila and Sydney: read more about this here http://wapo.st/2jtLEdl

Very few industries share data. At some level, every industry measures results and tests products, offers and media.But they don’t share customer data.

And yet, few companies cover an entire market segment vertically. Most sell only a specialised set of related products. The sellers of related products would do well to share information with one another. Not many companies, however, are willing to share customer data for the common good. My experience as a marketer has shown me that data sharing partnerships are not easy to establish. Co-branded credit cards are one way that Banks have created to get access to customers from other partners. But these partnerships don’t really add value to the co brand as much. The bank profits from it but not enough customer knowledge flows to the co branding partner.
But there is a huge amount of common data that is now available. According to a March 2015 study conducted by E marketer 11 % of marketers participate in co-ops to find new customers and personalize marketing campaigns.


The rise of the ‘like’ economy has led to a huge surge in information. Thanks to social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and internet gate-keepers such as Google, digital marketers are able to tap into a treasure trove of consumer affiliations. All the data about your brands being left by consumers as “digital exhaust” is out there for all to analyse.
Facebook controls the most “like” data, recording more than 80 billion per month at last check. But Twitter records more “talking” than anyone else (1.5 billion tweets per month); Amazon collects the most reviews (well over 6 million per month); and Google’s YouTube and Google Display Network have data on how a billion people prefer to spend their time.
The sheer volume of data out there is becoming quite overwhelming, but the maturation of online advertising, and in particular brand advertising, hinges on the effective monitoring of social behaviours, believes research agency Forrester. Such behaviours reveal long-term emotional drivers, as opposed to search behaviour, which reveals shorter-term, rational clues. A new research group within Facebook, is working on an emerging and powerful approach to artificial intelligence known as deep learning, which uses simulated networks of brain cells to process data. Applying this method to data shared on Facebook could allow for novel features and perhaps boost the company’s ad targeting.
As companies do a better job of capturing accurate transaction information, they build a valuable asset not only for themselves, but also for other marketers. Savvy marketers are looking for partners with whom they can trade their data. Data’s value increases when it’s shared, and you can make money by selling it.


Sharing increases data’s value by reinforcing crucial relationships in the business ecosystem.
1. The data you receive in return adds valuable marketing perspective that you probably can’t get on your own.
2. Sharing data helps transform your channel relationships from transactional into long-term partnerships, which can fend off price competition and open doors to other co-marketing activities.

The shared economy of data lets owners capitalize on the First party data they are already collecting. First-party data can be gathered from a marketers’ site traffic, CRM database, or customer purchase history

So can pooling data be the solution for brands to fight Google, Facebook & Amazon?
Google and Facebook are now commanding 85 percent of incremental digital ad spending, with publishers left to fight it out over the leftovers. So German publishers have put aside traditional rivalry and initiated an interesting data pooling exercise. Axel Springer, Gruner, RTL owner Bertelsmann Group, and Der Speigel owner are among eight of the 10 biggest publishing groups in Germany to be pooling masses of reader data, from just under 1,000 websites including tabloid Bild, and other major titles.The raw data goes into a single platform called Emetriq, a subsidiary owned by Deutsche Telekom, which sifts through and cleans it up, to create highly targeted, quality audience segments that publishers can use to boost their advertising packages.

eBay now enables advertisers to use the data about how visitors browse the site, what they buy, and more, which the company kept as proprietary until now, to target ads and increase return on investment. Even though personally identifiable information won’t be provided to advertisers, eBay visitors’ search and purchase data alone could be a goldmine to consumer product brands. Suddenly, brands have an exponentially greater ability to get the right ads in front of the right audiences. In other words, eBay (like Amazon before it) is monetizing its customer data by allowing advertisers to retarget the eBay audience. Ads must be purchased through eBay in order for brands to access this customer data, and eBay will handle its own ad buying as well as the ad buying for all of the third-party marketers accessing its data.
Forrester has dubbed this social, emotional data the ‘database of affinity.’ With all of this information comes the incredible power of accurate brand advertising, but actually wading through the dense and what now appears to be endless amounts of data will be the greatest challenge.
So what does this mean for Marketers?
1. How are you getting all this social data together into one platform for your brand teams to analyse?
2. You don’t own this data & the Facebook’s & Linked In’s of the world own it. So how are you creating a Social CRM strategy that allows you to directly engage with customers & own that data. Important for brands to add in data capture forms into their promotions to help build out data they need for a Social CRM strategy. If you don’t ask, you don’t get and you don’t own. That’s the reality of social media marketing.
3. And how are you linking social with the rest of your CRM efforts? Do you have a “one View” of CRM?
4. How are you creating data partnerships with other brands? Is someone senior enough looking at driving data partnerships?
Here is an interesting article on Forrester’s definition of the “Database of affinity”
http://www.forbes.com/sites/forrester/2013/04/15/why-google-not-facebook-will-build-the-database-of-affinity/

Customer journeys are not good enough, we need Customer context!

It’s a rainy day in Mumbai & my daughter is furiously multitasking to find fashionable rain coats. She is looking at customer reviews & social networking sites & is on Flipkart & Amazon too! All of them know she is from Mumbai, in some cases they have profile information from her registration data but none of them suggested she buy other stuff that she may need in the rains: Boots, umbrella!! Marketers need to understand the context in which consumers are & today there is enough data to give you insight on this. Retailers like Flipkart could have further used marketing campaigns across email, sms, in app, browser push to tell her more about expected weather in Mumbai over next 3 days & also providing her recommended brands to buy.

Consumers reach out to brands in many ways. India has 1.03 mobile connections & over 350 million internet users. Consumers connect with brands for a wide variety of reasons. Consumers want more information, improved service & better deals. And technology is making it easier for consumers to connect with brands. By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse, so says Gartner. They also say that “New audio-centric technologies, such as Apple’s AirPods, Google Home and Amazon’s Echo, are turning “voice first” interactions into ubiquitous experiences. By eliminating the need to use your hands and eyes for browsing, vocal interactions extend the web experience to multiple activities such as driving, cooking, waking, socializing, exercising, operating machinery.

context marketing

Today’s omnichannel customers will end up using the retailer’s touchpoints, in all permutations & combinations. Not only will they use smartphone apps to compare prices or download a coupon, but they will also be users of in-store digital tools such as an interactive catalog, a price-checker, or a tablet. Consumers will buy online and pick-up in store, or buy in the store and get their purchases shipped. Some research done by HBR has shown that customers who used 4+ channels spent 9% more in the store, on average, when compared to those who used just one channel.

Always connected customers can’t be pigeonholed into linear journeys. These consumers automatically turn to their phones in search of information, whether they’re at the gym, commuting to work, or shopping for groceries. Google refers to these spontaneous instances of discovery as micro-moments.

But even while consumers are finding increasing number of ways of reaching brands, companies struggle to provide them a seamless experience as they use these myriad channels.

This is further complicated by the emergence of communication channels that rely on proprietary standards — like Apple’s iAd, Android’s open architecture, and Facebook’s platform.

Each channel tends to be used by it’s distinct customer segments-like customers in the older demographics who are using i pads or multi device using millennials & so messages need to be customised to appropriate customer journeys.

Banking customers often struggle to engage seamlessly with banks. Citibank saw that an important concern of customers was to stop any charges on their card after it was lost or stolen, the company introduced Citi Quick Lock that allows users to quickly lock their card from a mobile app while they look for it.

None of this can happen unless companies start to change structure & processes keeping the customer at the heart of the thinking.Overseeing all of a firm’s interactions with customers is someone in the role of chief experience officer, a relatively new position in the C-suite. Chief digital officers are also starting to have this top-level responsibility. Marketers need a structure within their teams that brings the customer journey up front & centre & connects it with context!

As all of your products and services generate more and more data, the resulting context gives you the opportunity to disrupt your competitors. Also today consumers are allowing marketers to know their location. Since 2014, the number of Internet searches using a “find the nearest” term has doubled. Customers are also beginning to see the value of revealing their location in physical environments. The number of connected devices is growing by 15% to 20% per annum and will reach approximately 30 billion in 2020.Many devices, such as mobile phones, cars, and wearables, constantly monitor their user’s location, so the volume of inbound, spatially related data has never been greater. So the ability to further drive relevance by using location context is becoming real! Marketer’s need to be conscious to not overdo this & risk looking “creepy” to consumers!

McCormick developed FlavorPrint, an algorithm representing the company’s flavors as a vector of 50 data points. FlavorPrint helps consumers decode the flavors they already love, and invites them to discover, share and bring new flavors into their homes. FlavorPrint site has a simple promise: Tell it what you like, what ingredients you have, and what cooking equipment you have, and it recommends recipes. Those recommendations become finely tuned to your context as you continue to interact with the site. McCormick’s now partners with retailers and food suppliers, as well as social media networks and third-party services like Foodily, to create more relevant customer experiences.

Over the next few years or so, we’re likely to see a radical integration of the consumer experience across physical and virtual environments. Mckinsey research says that by 2016, the web will influence more than half of all retail transactions, representing a potential sales opportunity of almost $2 trillion. All this will drive marketers towards using “consumer context” in all of their marketing engagements. Many industries have a large opportunity in looking to align their Marketing with the context in which consumers discover, buy & experience their products & services.

Forrester calls this Context based marketing:

“For all the activity you try to catalyze through campaigns, individuals more commonly interact with your brand outside of those campaigns. They may learn about your product or service prior to purchase. Then they’ll use your product, connect with others, and even organize activities around it. They spread word of mouth, positive or negative — and that, whether you
like or not, is your actual brand image.The context of all those interactions determines whether they will engage and, more importantly, transact with your brand again. Marketing’s job now is to identify and use context to create a repeatable cycle of interactions, drive deeper engagement, and learn more about the customer in the process. The more marketers can internalize and act upon what they learn, the easier it is to make future interactions that much more engaging”.

Many businesses will create data led marketing advantage as they build competency in storing , interpreting & taking action on these vast terabytes of context data. Contextual marketing will yield a new form of “owned data” that is generated from the interaction cycle. Smartphone owners pick up or glance at their mobile phones 150 to 200 times each day, spending on average over two hours a day accessing apps and websites. This leaves a huge data trail behind as well.To get the full customer portrait rather than just a series of snapshots, companies need a central data mart that combines all the contacts a customer has with a brand: basic consumer data plus information about transactions, browsing history, and customer-service interactions.

But to do this CMO’s will have to take charge & demand a level of technology hitherto not seen in the Marketing department.And yes, 2017 is the year when Gartner predicted that CMO’s will spend more on IT , than CIO’s!!

Unloved, undifferentiated, and incapable of innovation-is that a Bank?

Unloved, undifferentiated, and incapable of innovation — that’s what today’s digitally savvy users, primarily including high-school students, entry-level workers, and thirty-something professionals, believe about the banking industry says a recent survey of Millenials.

Nonbank solutions for financial services are not just imminent — they’re already here. Today’s digitally savvy retail banking customers are rapidly turning to Geezeo, Personal Capital, LearnVest, and others for personal financial management solutions. And they’re looking forward to other technology giants entering the market such as PayPal, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. New banks like Atom are also bringing new thinking!

And yet, Banks often think of Customer centricity as a “fluffy” topic. Most bankers are hard wired left brain types & the retail banking business is such that customers are often prisoners & cannot leave very easily. According to Capgemini’s 2014 World Retail Banking Report (WRBR), less than 40% of customers globally reported positive customer experiences with their financial institution.

And yet there contradictions: banks are probably amongst the few businesses that have an “extreme level of data” about customers. Banking also was amongst the early adopters of analytics & so has the institutional capacity to understand customers better. And Banks have invested in huge amount of technology that can enable customer centricity. And yet Technology is transforming the way digitally savvy customers think about and manage their finances.

But Banking tops the list of industries at risk of disintermediation by digitally savvy customers including millennials. And banks seem secure in the belief that this business is very hard to disrupt & too regulated to disrupt. Key findings from the Millennial Disruption Index (MDI), a three-year study of industry disruption at the hands of teens to thirty somethings (Millennials) found that 71% of Millenials would welcome a new bank from Amazon, Google, Square, Apple or Paypal.

In India, there seems to be a mad race by private sector banks to show Digital superiority. A lot of Apps are being launched. But at its core, the issue of being Customer centric still eludes many banks. Banks need to be committed to having an innate knowledge of their customer and using that knowledge for the customer’s benefit. Today most analytics teams in banks spend most of their effort in doing analytics that will benefit the bank: reduce risk, increase cross sell & reduce cost.

Chris Skinner, Chairman of the Financial Services Club and author of the book, Digital Bank, said, “A digital bank is a bank built with a vision to reach out to customers through digital augmentation. It is built specifically to offer the customer the service of their choice through the access of their choice.”

But it doesn’t need too much fancy analytics to become more customer centric. There is so much data that exists with a bank that you can create hundreds of examples of campaigns that connect to customers.

I saw this wonderful example from Jim Bruene at Finovate:

Card reissues after a data breach, or lost/stolen situation, are annoying for cardholders. But it’s even worse for the issuer who has to pay for a new card, hound the customer to activate it, handle customer service calls, and then risk losing recurring revenues from now-broken automated pre-authorized charges.

So kudos to Capital One for taking an important step in solving this problem.

Earlier this week I received a new card and number from Capital One, presumably because my card had been involved in a breach. I am not aware of any unauthorized attempts to use it.

In a followup email this morning, the giant issuer reminded me to activate the new card. That’s a fairly typical technique these days. But the help didn’t end there. The bank provided a list of likely merchants where I may need to update card info to avoid the charge being denied (see screenshot below).

http://finovate.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/capitalone_email_recurring_new.jpg

Here is what I believe banks need to think about:

  1. Look at their data to help customers. Banks have rich information & everyone should be thinking about simple ways to connect with customers. Most times banks engage with customers only to cross or upsell. Bankers may want to think of a paradigm where sales begins to happen because you connect with customers at relevant moments with personalised communication like the example above.
  2. Set up a Customer Intelligence unit-use them to derive insight “about customers for customers”.
  3. Use that insight to create engagement programs with customers which help them lead theirv daily life
  4. Cross sell will happen as an outcome.
  5. At Cequity we call this philosophy-“To service is to Sell”.

 

Analytics is sexy, let’s make it work in 2017!

Analytics & data are words that have become very popular now. Black gold. Texas Tea are words that describe the riches that can come from data!. Information is the new oil is one of those catch statements that’s now used so often (more than 25 million Google search results).

But is Analytics over hyped now, is there more talk & less action on the ground. There is a need to take a closer look at analytics: in the years to come blind belief in data analytics will change & a more serious look at what analytics can truly deliver will now begin to form.

The US elections have shown that you need to know the limitations of data as well. Nate Silver famously called two presidential elections nearly to perfection: He got 49 states right in 2008 and all 50 in 2012. But he was way off the mark with Trump in 2016! Even he said recently after the US election results: “We’ve learned that we have to be careful about how we convey uncertainty.”

If you are a company thinking about either starting out in Analytics or scaling up your analytics practises, it may be a good time to think & plan for 2017. Thanks to the hype that Analytics generates, organisations have bought into the concept, but many are still unsure how to “make it happen” for them.

Here are some of the trends that I see for 2017

1. The democratization of data: More data is now available to companies of all sizes. And thanks to solutions like Amazon Mechanical Turk, businesses will be able to much more easily collect data from around the world which they previously did not have access to. So more easily data within a company & sources to find external data will be a trend that I see growing larger in year 2017.


2. Data Infrastructure Should Become a Profit Centre: Companies that start treating data as an enterprise wide corporate asset will be able to create new revenue streams. This will need sensitivity to customer’s personal identified information.
3. Companies will share data through mutually benefiting data exchanges : Data’s value increases when it’s shared. Sharing data allows marketers to better understand who their best customers are, which consumers they should market to, and with what specific offers.Gartner Predicts 30 Percent of Businesses will Be monetizing their Information Assets directly by 2016. Companies that create data sharing ecosystems, will benefit in following ways:
• The data you receive in return adds valuable marketing perspective that you probably can’t get on your own. As a marketer in M&M,a Mahindra XUV customer also owns products like Mutual funds & Savings accounts or has service relationships like DTH or Telecom.
• Sharing data helps transform your channel relationships from transactional into long-term partnerships, which can fend off price competition and open doors to other co-marketing activities.

4. Ability to tell stories: Analysts need to “Story tell” to embed analytics into the fabric of the company. But analysts are too one-dimensional & not embracing the intersection of “technology, statistics & business”. So analysts struggle to tell stories. Often I see journalists do a far better job with infographics in media. But information journalists are not wanting a career in analytics & so there is a gap. Story telling is not the same as pretty charts. Visualization’s are being commoditized. Amazon and Google have both released near-free offerings that offer their users basic visualizations. I see analysts will become more effective in telling stories using new age tools or platforms.


5. Growing importance of the User experience: The customer experience for analytics users will continue to be very important as more & more business users start to use Analytics systems. Advanced analytics is no longer just for analysts.
6. Using analytics & Big data for improving Customer Experience: Customers will demand value for their data. They will be willing to share their data , if the exchange is fair. And improved customer data will allow companies to hugely personalise the customer experience.


7. Marketers can help customers lead a better life: Whatever business you are in, customers will want you to add value to their lives. Helping customers use their own data in creative new ways can be a great differentiator. Customer data can be used to benchmark customers. Customers would love to know how their telecom spends compare with someone of a similar profile. Am I spending too much time on the phone lately, that too in my personal hours on official matters!Or how many hours of Kids television does my household watch as compared to others. Customers may willingly provide more data(information about their family’s or interests) in return for getting value addition like this.
8. Mobile adoption creates exciting possibilities: Given the massive shift to mobile shopping, companies will need to develop a mobile-led omnichannel strategy rooted in a “mobile first” mind-set. Research shows that 25% of Mobile apps are only used once and 58% of users churn in the first 30 days of using an app. Mobile app analytics would start to include a lot of geospatial analytics. With businesses accumulating more and more data on their customers’ locations and corresponding activities, it is necessary for decision makers to generate insights that include this information to increase customer loyalty, sales and other outcomes. The use of automation and Artificial Intelligence within mobile app analytics will also be a game-changer. More in-depth analytics centered around uninstalls. Examining the causes of uninstalls can play a vital role in user retention.

9. Companies will build massive Customer single view : Companies will start to merge data across systems keeping the customer at the centre of it all. You need to be able to merge Mobile app data, sales data, marketing data, service and support data, and potentially other kinds of data into a single unified whole. In order for companies, from key executives to customer service reps, to best make decisions and interact with their customers, they need a wholistic view of analytics from all customer-facing platforms. This does not exist today & companies will use the engineering developed by new age companies like Facebook & Google to create such infrastructure.

10. Analytics will depend even more on company culture: As companies look at Analytics to give them a competitive edge, they need to make key changes in their information technology, their structure, their processes, and their culture.Culture is absolutely key to analytics adoption. You don’t often hear about a close partnership with HR for analytics adoption, but it is critical for culture change to start. I think in 2017 you will start to hear about this more often.

11. Companies will build Creative analytics team: Bring together a team of people who are integrators & who come from the intersecting skills sets of statistics, technology & business. Analysts should not think about their job as purely high end geeks, rather they are story tellers who help make business impact happen using data. Think creatively about staffing this team-bring a journalist, tech geek & stats jock together in one group & see the magic.


12. Younger people will disrupt: Analytics will move towards being a far younger person’s game. Average age in online business is far lower. Younger people are adopting analytics far faster. They are getting exposed to it in their education & they are consuming it through their “digital avatars”. They see this often as a “no brainer”. Older executives are harder to convert to this line of thinking.

It’s my data, not Uber’s

Apparently, Uber has a company tool called “God View” that reveals the location of Uber vehicles and customers who request a car. This tool can allow a wide number of Uber employees to view customers’ locations. Now this is “my data” & now Uber has it!

Having differentiated customer data will be a source of competitive advantage from now on. And for this, gaining consumers’ confidence will be key. Companies that transparently inform customers about the information they gather, give customers control of their personal data, and offer fair value in return for it will be trusted. Consumers will even give such companies larger access & a disproportionate share of their wallet. Soon, investors will value this & it will reflect in stock prices too! Over time customers would demand that their personal telecom, credit cards and banking data be available to us in a personal datawarehouse.

And yet many industries still take a very short term view of this trend. Banks like J P Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo have even tried to choke the flow of data to popular websites that help consumers manage their finances. In India, I am not sure how leading banks like HDFC & ICICI would respond to requests for electronic receipt of my data.Banks, facing increasing competition from these companies, are becoming more protective of their customer information and are limiting how much data they pass on. And yet,by allowing third party software access to data, a bank could act as a platform for third party innovation, just like Apple acts as a platform for developers through its Appstore.

In fact this becomes even more critical in the Health care arena.Shouldn’t patients be the owners of their own medical data? The US government has an interesting Blue button initiative. This protocol is already providing a secure way for veterans and Medicare beneficiaries to share their medical history with health care providers they trust. You can use your health data to improve your health, and to have more control over your personal health information and your family’s healthcare.

Many businesses are still not getting the fact that using API’s can be a powerful force multiplier for them. Put simply, an API is a set of instructions that allows one piece of software to interact with another. In general, as the array of API enabled devices and services grows, so too does the range of ways that they can be connected. An interesting UK government report suggested that :”You can even connect the lights in your living room to ESPN so that they flash when your football team scores, or to your calendar so that they blink on your birthday”.

The growth in the use of public APIs reflects the fact that there are a number of ways in which organisations can benefit from allowing their software and data to interact with third parties. For some companies, their APIs are their core business model. Twillio, for instance, provides a service that allows partners to send and receive voice and SMS communications.When a customer receives an SMS message telling them that their Uber driver has arrived, this is powered by the Twillio API.

Richard Thaylor, a professor of economics and behavioural science at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago has this very interesting proposition.

This is what Richard provocatively suggests:

“If a business collects data on consumers electronically, it should provide them with a version of that data that is easy to download and export to another Web site. Think of it this way: you have lent the company your data, and you’d like a copy for your own use”. Read more about this:

http://nyti.ms/2iY2Tmp

I think this is a powerful idea & can have a huge impact on consumers & also create a huge number of intermediary companies who help consumers make sense of their data. The idea of using analytics as “personal power” will definitely be resisted by companies & governments, but it has the power to allow the customer to control & manage her relationships with Telecom, Retail & a myriad other companies.

Here is how Richard explains this can happen:

“Mydata” is the term we use in the United Kingdom; in the United States it’s called “Smart Disclosure.” The idea is that in many cases we can help consumers simply by making their own usage data available to them. Here’s an example: You’re searching for a new smartphone calling plan. What you’d like is access to all the ways you use your smartphone—in a machine readable format. That would create a business opportunity for online services that I call “choice engines.” With one click you could upload all of your usage data, and the choice engine would recommend plans that suit your needs. We can help people make smarter decisions across many areas of their lives just by giving them access to their data”. 

data

Making my data work harder

My experience of working in large banks & Retail companies has been that often thoughts like these can be seen as fluffy & not hard “revenue producing” ideas. This really is about becoming more customer centric. In many companies, such as banks, business silos make customer centric initiatives far more difficult. As Marketers in service companies,often the power does not lie with the CMO to drive such thinking forward. And yet as industries are getting disrupted, maybe this is the time to make your voices heard & take steps to become more customer centric.

So how does all this matter to companies.

  1. Business is no longer the gatekeeper to data: customers will demand their data & intermediaries will build solution sthat offer “customer value” on top of it. Banks , Retailers & Telecom companies will need to follow this trend & partner their customers for making money!
  2. Marketers can help customers lead a better life: Whatever business you are in, customers will want you to add value to their lives. Helping customers use their own data in creative new ways can be a great diffrentiator. Customer data can be used to benchmark customers. Customers would love to know how their telecom spends compare with someone of a similar profile. Am I spending too much time on the phone lately, that too in my personal hours on official matters!Or how many hours of Kids television does my household watch as compared to others. Customers may willingly provide more data(information about their family’s or interests) in return for getting value addition like this.
  3. Creating a Personal data product business: Most millennials are data natives. A data native is someone who expects their world to not just be digital, but to be smart and to be able to personalise to their taste and habits. For example, a bank should not only be digital and interactive — it should be personalized. It should tell you what you need to know based on your interests, location, preferences. Data products provide context & personalisation. If your brand has the customers trust, they may even be open to giving you their data from other service providers, if you can help them improve their life.The expectations have shifted. Companies need to focus on creating a product based on data & making it valuable for their customers.

 

 

Airbnb & the art of analytics storytelling!

Analytics and data are transforming companies around the world. Yet one of the great difficulties with analytics is that it can be difficult to explain and understand; it is widely held that analytics specialists don’t communicate well with decision makers, and vice-versa. As a result, analytics adoption is still not easy within companies.

Analysts, at one end, are busy learning more specialised & deeply technical methods of analysing data & at the same time they are finding it difficult to get them “heard” within organisations. Influencing ultimate decision makers is similar to selling products or services to external customers.

Analysts need to understand that when they present ideas to decision makers, it is their responsibility to sell – not the decision maker’s responsibility to buy. Rudyard Kipling once wrote that if History was taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” In her persuasion & power of story video, Stanford University Professor of Marketing Jennifer L. Aaker explains that stories are meaningful when they are memorable, impactful and personal. Have a look at this wonderful story told by Jennifer.
http://bit.ly/1iqcvin

Stories are the best way to influence! But we don’t see them being used so often. Analytics doesn’t need you to solve only a technical problem but a “social” one. Analytics is sexy but for it to make an impact, it needs to be embedded into the fabric of the company. This calls for analysts to become more social & in fact better presenters & story tellers.

They need to learn to demystify analytics & link it to practical ways for the business to make money! And analysts need to learn to link their work to “the last mile”. Analytics should not be expected to deliver a “Aha moment”, instead it should be a “factory approach to improved decisions”. So analytics is not just a planning tool as much as it is an Execution tool to improve the customer experience & business impact. Start with a decision in mind & work backwards, not with the data in mind & working forward. And today with reams of external data available to most marketers, analytics can even mash up different kinds of data & improve the Customer experience.

Compare the analytics industry with the world of journalism. One of the most deadline filled industries in the world is getting it right with what it calls precision journalism! Despite crazy deadlines, I am amazed at the powerful stories journalists write using data. I wish the analytics industry was half way as good!!The corporate world needs to learn from this & use data to tell stories better! Journalists are coping with the rising information flood by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and artists. Some newsrooms are already beginning to retool their staffs and systems to prepare for a future in which data becomes a medium.

Analysts are often tempted to communicate how they did the analysis: “First we removed the outliers from the data, then we did a logarithmic transformation; that created high autocorrelation, so we created a one-year lag variable”—& the typical business user is already yawning! The audiences for analytical results don’t really care what process you followed; they only care about results and implications

Here is an example of a master storyteller. Many people employ static charts, but visual analytics are increasingly becoming dynamic and interactive. Hans Rosling, a Swedish professor, popularized this approach with his frequently viewed TED Talk that used visual analytics to show the changing population health relationships between developed and developing nations over time. Rosling has created a website called Gapminder (www.gapminder.org) that displays many of these types of interactive visual analytics

In early 2010, The New York Times was given access to Netflix’s normally private records of what areas rent which movies the most often. While Netflix declined to disclose raw numbers, The Times created an engaging interactive database that let users browse the top 100-ranked rentals in 12 US metro areas, broken down to the postal code level. A colour-graded “heatmap” overlaid on each community enabled users to quickly scan and see where a particular title was most popular.

See more at: http://nyti.ms/1iCAQnp

Brent Dykes has this wonderful take in a Forbes article & I quote:

“It’s important to understand how these different elements combine and work together in data storytelling. When narrative is coupled with data, it helps to explain to your audience what’s happening in the data and why a particular insight is important. Ample context and commentary is often needed to fully appreciate an insight. When visuals are applied to data, they can enlighten the audience to insights that they wouldn’t see without charts or graphs. Many interesting patterns and outliers in the data would remain hidden in the rows and columns of data tables without the help of data visualizations.

data analytics

storytelling with data

Finally, when narrative and visuals are merged together, they can engage or even entertain an audience. It’s no surprise we collectively spend billions of dollars each year at the movies to immerse ourselves in different lives, worlds, and adventures. When you combine the right visuals and narrative with the right data, you have a data story that can influence and drive change”.

change management

Creating organisation changes through storytelling

Also today Marketers have access to a lot of external data. How they mash this up creatively with their own data & produce features that are of value to consumers is going to become very important in the days to come.

Here is an example:

How Airbnb can add more value to its consumers?

Airbnb is making travel easier for its consumers & today they have access to a lot of data that can make the consumer’s buying process easier!There is a lot of data available about city neighbourhoods.I thought of this particular example because of  Ben Wellington’s article in The New Yorker. He used data points from New York City noise complaints not only to map out which neighbourhoods were noisiest, but why they were noisy.

Noise data

New York data

From the screenshot above, you can see that you’ll definitely want to steer clear of two neighbourhood near the Bronx if you hate the sound of ice cream trucks.
How can this help a Marketer?: Imagine if this led Airbnb to import this data & use it to help you in selecting a place to stay. I am fresh from staying in Singapore in an Airbnb apartment which was in a noisy neighbourhood. If this can be created into an index which pops up as I view an Airbnb apartment, it adds another data based layer to my decision of which apartment to choose. You can enhance this with other data like Crime in the neighbourhood etc & suddenly data is actually adding much more value to the AirBnB platform.
So if data based storytelling can be linked to “How customers buy” , that can hugely enhance a customer’s experience & value. Think about how you can do this in your business & use storytelling to impact key decisions in your company & also your customer experience.

Creating an Experimentation culture!

It is actually amazing how difficult it is to drive experiments in the corporate world. Marketing folk seem to be more comfortable with the “tried & tested”. Especially in businesses like Retail, where the opportunity to experiment is so large, you could do so much. As a Retailer you could change the browser location or add a new visual merchandizing display without too much effort! Why then do CMO’s not drive experimentation as a discipline?

experiments

Dan Ariely has this very interesting take on why companies do not experiment?

“I’ve found. I’ve often tried to help companies do experiments, and usually I fail spectacularly. I remember one company that was having trouble getting its bonuses right. I suggested they do some experiments, or at least a survey. The HR staff said no, it was a miserable time in the company. Everyone was unhappy, and management didn’t want to add to the trouble by messing with people’s bonuses merely for the sake of learning. But the employees are already unhappy, I thought, and the experiments would have provided evidence for how to make them less so in the years to come. How is that a bad idea?Companies pay amazing amounts of money to get answers from consultants with overdeveloped confidence in their own intuition. Managers rely on focus groups—a dozen people riffing on something they know little about—to set strategies. And yet, companies won’t experiment to find evidence of the right way forward.”

I have a few suggestions:

  1. How about creating an “experimentation budget” and providing the resource to creative people within the company to run structured experiments with Marketing providing a “data led template” using statistical principles. This way any manager can pick up his pet hypothesis and bring some “method to the madness” by using a Marketing guided process and run an experiment.
  2. Experimentation works because people fail and try again with a little tweak here and another there. Encourage failure, without that you would not get a superior out come.

Have a look at this interesting article by Dan!

http://hbr.org/2010/04/column-why-businesses-dont-experiment/ar/1

 

Partner or Perish!

The retail narrative has always been about two separate businesses: the off-line world & the online world. Despite a lot of talk about Omnichannel, most off-line retailers didn’t seem to get the Online challenge!

I saw an interesting change with this move by Rent the Runway.

Rent the Runway offers designer fashion delivered at your home for a fraction of the price. With over 170 top designers, 35,000 of the season’s hottest dresses and 7,000 accessories, Rent the Runway is trying to completely change the fashion buying experience.

And now, Rent the Runway is set to open its first store-within-a-store inside Neiman Marcus’ Union Square, San Francisco location as part of a new partnership between the fashion tech startup and the luxury retailer.

partnership

partnering with competitors

I found this quote from Forbes to be interesting: The move sees Neiman Marcus allowing an ostensible competitor 3,000 square feet to rent apparel and accessories to a demographic it has struggled with: millennial women. It also allows Rent the Runway(RTR), with its median customer age of 30, to get in front of an older, wealthy clientele.

The women-led startup, which has raised $126 million in venture capital has also innovated it’s pricing with an “Unlimited plan”, which launched earlier this year. The $139/month subscription allows women to rent and wear up to three pieces at a time from sought-after contemporary design houses including Proenza Schouler, Jason Wu, and Derek Lam.

I see quite a few innovations at play here:

  1. Partnering with a competitor is cool: still to early to conclude but it is an interesting approach. Maybe a Myntra & Shoppers Stop deal enhancer!
  2. New pricing models: Younger consumers like the variety that subscription pricing gives them. But the jury is still out on this one. RTR has furiously innovated to try & get this right but the core subscription pricing model is something that other retailers should watch out for.
  3. Thinking about customer segments differently: I loved this quote “It’s thinking about who the next-generation luxury consumer is,” said Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman of the latest additions to their service. “For her, luxury is time.” RTR’s target client would be willing to pay it, given that her comfort with the sharing economy.
  1. Very intense focus on the Product proposition: Would women accept renting clothes as a concept-consumers had to be convinced about the proposition.Rent the Runway took a big step toward solving this problem by becoming amongst the largest dry cleaner in the US, with a 160,000-square-foot facility
  1. Being very data focused: Over the years, data has been core to Rent the Runway’s decision-making.Data has helped drive the business strategy,though I find it hard to separate the PR elements of how they use data with the facts! But assuming that they are doing something terrific with data & actually using reams of data about product attributes that they collect, it could be a possible game changer! A few other companies also talk about this-see this video about a company called Stitch: http://for.tn/1U9LVxN

Read more about this fashion innovation here:

http://bit.ly/2fSPFT8