The Data Divide – One customer view but from only one perspective?

Written by
Bogdana Butnar

We’ve been thinking about data here at Poke for a while now. Big data, small data, 1st, 2nd, 3rd party data, data that we own, that our clients own, that global platforms own, etc. It seems that we have, as an industry, gotten really good at gathering and filtering customer data so that it gives us smart insights about who our customers are, where they’re at, what they like, what they plan to buy and so on. The Holy Grail of data is what we call the “single customer view” - which is the ability to pretty much know everything about a single user/customer by matching 1st party with 2nd and 3rd party data and, with maybe some smart fiddling, even pair that information with more sensitive stuff like that person’s name and credit card details + if they’re on mobile phones where they are and maybe what they’re doing?

This is pretty impressive and the implications for how brands interact with people online are profound and exciting. Gone should be the days when badly phrased newsletters addressing you by your family name while trying to be informal (Hello Roope!) were offering you breast enlargement for less than 100 rubles (although you were a happily married UK man). Gone the reminders about products you’ve already bought and banner ads for airplane tickets when you’re reading about a recent plane crash.

We now have so much data that we could make brand experience online fully customized and frictionless, the epitome of marketing as we know it. And yet, what we mostly hear about when discussing how this data is used is “programmatic”.  In 2014, 1 in 3 advertising UK pounds was spent on programmatic, the machine driven ad buying framework that allows software not only to take over the financial and operational aspects of media buying but also the fiddly and real time targeting aspects related to when, what and to whom we show our ads. It appears that a huge bulk of our data computing power is today being harnessed to serve ads.

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t hate ads. We are an agency, after all, and as such ads are part of what we do (and even more so now that programmatic can better dimensionalise our concepts in paid media). But we also think that this ability to use data to customize the experience of brands online should go beyond smart targeting of banners, maybe into dynamic targeting of content, custom product pages, individual app experiences, real time syndication of interest based information. We have to say the phrase again, maybe this power should go into frictionless brand experience and service online not just ad serving. If we say it twice it’s more likely to happen as it’s a trend now, right!?

That for us means content being delivered to complement what you're looking at, newsletters that recognize that you may have already purchased that book, an online experience with a restaurant's content that includes meal suggestions based on your preference and, for repeat customers, an instant discount applied on your online order. The stuff that creates and augments relationships.

Some of this innovation is already out there, and major websites and platforms (such as Amazon) already use their immense data resources to make your in-site interaction frictionless. We can do more to bring data into all other brand experiences. The power that data brings should not be primarily directed at ad serving. The benefits of understanding the needs and preferences of individual users should be translated not only in better media, but in overall better service and better brand experiences. That's where the power of Big Data will make a difference in the long run. After all, when you’ve spent all that money getting them there with heavily optimized ads, why wouldn’t you do more to optimise the efficacy of owned media channels? Why? Why? (We’ve said “why” four times now so this has to happen too!)