Data should humanise brands, not disrupt humans

Trent Lloyd, Eyeota co-founder and GM publisher development, advises on how to best use data to give your brand personality rather than ‘stalker status’.

trent lloydAutomated advertising, powered by technologies that didn’t even exist five years ago, is disrupting marketing in ways that might previously have been unthinkable.

While there has been a huge shift towards personalisation, ticking this box doesn’t necessarily equate to more meaningful relationships.

Data not only gives digital marketing the opportunity to be more targeted and relevant, but to also imitate human nature.

As humans we listen and observe. Data is the means by which brands listen to and observe their customers.

But more importantly, data is the means by which brands can actually communicate to their customers as human beings.

Data, if used correctly, should give a brand personality. It enables clever, well thought out and relevant interactions that customers notice, appreciate and respond to.

Data, if used incorrectly, can give a brand ‘stalker status’.

Be a friend, not a stalker

Digital ads shouldn’t disrupt a human’s experience online. Just because you have data about a user, doesn’t mean you should bombard them with offers left, right and center.

Digital may well be the platform for today’s marketing, but in order to facilitate meaningful engagements marketers can’t forget about the human at the other end.

As human beings, the way we get to know each other and establish trust and relationships is by listening. By observing. By absorbing information about each other; likes, dislikes, viewpoints, interests, behaviors.

The more data points you have on an individual, the more likely you are to be able to build a valuable profile of them and their life.

But using data is not just about listening and observing.

It’s personal

Whereas two years ago personalisation was a feature, now it is an expectation.

As digital marketing gets more and more sophisticated, consumers are increasingly demanding more real-time and relevant experiences.

The norm today is to use data at the beginning, middle and end of a marketing cycle.

Instead of brands creating products and campaigns on their terms, based on what they ‘think’ consumers want and need – that same data is now fuelling product and campaign development.

What brands ‘know’ about a consumer is now the trigger to communicate. And that can be on quite a personal level.

“Data matching” links related pieces of information from multiple databases to the same person.

“Data modelling” links related pieces of information about an individual to specific products and offers. And this is where it can get quite personal.

For example, knowing you just bought property, and knowing you are shopping online for a new couch are both really useful pieces of information. But together they let an advertiser offer you a great deal on a new sofa. And knowing you don’t already have a couch is even more valuable.

Timing is everything

While there is greater acceptance by consumers within e-commerce on how brands utilise consumer data, marketers still need to remember that relevancy and timing is key.

Just because I looked at one couch online, doesn’t mean I want to be seeing ads for it while I’m reading the news on my phone on the way to work. Nor do I much care for it on a recipe site while I’m trying to cook dinner. You know me better than that.

But on a Saturday morning when the night before I’ve just looked up the trading hours for the Moore Park Supa Centre, and you know I’m about to go on a department store mission – then yeah, show me the couch.

The human side of data

Programmatic has led marketers to rip up the rulebook – what used to take weeks of planning now happens in circa 200 milliseconds.

This immediacy is empowering. But only if brands are using the right data for the sole purpose of: making ads more relevant and responsive.

While personalisation is a huge step in the right direction, it should not come at the expense of interpersonal relationships on which human connections are based.

Data has become both the driver, and success marker, of any marketing campaign.

But only if it’s used in the most human of ways.