How To Use Data To Impact Your Brand Perception And Bottom Line

Ayzenberg VP of product and technology Chris Strawser shares challenges and solutions marketers face in adopting a data-driven marketing approach. 

Part one, which outlines challenges, is available here.

Determining how to effectively reach consumers in the age of coronavirus was hard enough when shelter-at-home orders first took effect. Then most parts of the country reopened. Yet the return to normal was short-lived as cases began to surge again, causing officials to reverse reopening and once again muddying marketers’ plans for the future.

Last time, I shared my thoughts on how a data-driven marketing strategy during COVID-19 and beyond can help position your business for growth and the challenges associated with leveraging data. I’ll now discuss the ways marketers can overcome those challenges and successfully use data to impact their brand perception and bottom line.

Use A System Of Record For A Cohesive Data Strategy

Having a cohesive data strategy is usually the first step to utilizing data correctly and more often. That involves having a system of record. Even if you have a grand data warehousing strategy, you still need to feed that data into systems that allow you to use it. A system of record could mean a customer relationship management (CRM) system, an email campaign system or a content management system (CMS). Or it can be something like a business intelligence tool such as Datorama that helps you visualize all of your data, which is a really key component in terms of allowing your organization to use the data it has at their disposal.

When you see the data through the different filters these systems of record offer, you can stack key performance indicators (KPIs) in certain ways that maybe you haven’t seen before. For example, is there a direct correlation between the volume of visitors on our website and our Twitter channel engagement rates? They could seem disconnected, but with a system like this, you can pull those seemingly disparate data points together and look at how they may correlate.

Another thing to keep in mind is just because you’re having to rewrite the playbook doesn’t mean your pre-COVID-19 data is meaningless. Understanding how consumers used to interact with you can be helpful in your analysis of the way they’re being forced to interact with you during lockdowns. And that’s where the human intelligence of data-driven marketing becomes so important. You can’t have data robots doing all your marketing for you. Data-driven marketing is only as effective as the human beings you’re running it through because at some point, the process must be influenced from a human’s standpoint. You’re using the data to inform the way you’re thinking about how you want to craft that connection. But ultimately, a human being has to look at the data and say, all of this allows me to know that I want to craft this kind of experience, because I know that as a human myself, this is what would be most beneficial.

Ensure Your Approach Is Mutually Beneficial To The Brand And Customer

The main point of using a data-driven approach is to get your data in a place that allows you to affect the consumer experience much more positively and then have that experience lead to some conversion which then repeats itself over time through some loyal behavior.

If you do it right, there should be a mutual benefit. The consumer should feel like they actually got something, an experience from you that she was satisfied with and that she felt like this was really a positive experience with this company. It’s about going above and beyond and making sure the consumer had a good experience, and that because of it, their perception of the brand has been elevated. At the other end of it, the brand is only going to survive if it continues to nurture that process.

In the age of coronavirus, the success of consumer experiences will be dependent on using more digital touch points as many continue working from home.The more companies shift to remote work, the more it’s going to change these local economies. Daily habits and behavior patterns are now being heavily influenced by the new normals of social distancing and quarantine and thus pushing most consumers online to meet their needs. 

This is changing the way that people are interacting with brands. Consumers are a click away from interacting with a myriad of brands and shedding past daily rituals that were supporting a lot of local businesses, such as restaurants and cafes near their workplace.

Given these factors, it’s important for brands to begin to incorporate data points that may be new or thus far underutilized, such as social share of voice (SOV). Even understanding the competitive and cross-vertical social share of voice outside of your brand will be important for understanding the climate you’re in and how that’s affecting your marketplace.

Think Efficiency Over Lifetime Value

Starting your data journey in a way that focuses on the things that are most effective for you in the short term is probably going to be a more effective tactic than getting into five to seven-year data strategy plans and programs. You can still plan ahead, it’s just very hard to know where the world is going to be in five years from now, whereas I think that wasn’t necessarily a concern before.

To think in terms of efficiency over lifetime value, ask yourself, ’What is making an impact right now?’ and ‘What is doing well for me at this very moment?’ Knowing what is doing well for you right now allows you to better understand how to pivot going forward.

The food and beverage industry is a good example. Most people I’ve talked to, at least in my area, are still going to the places that offer contactless delivery or that make pickup really easy, even if they have other options available to them. These businesses have been so accommodating over the last several months and in turn, they’ve built up trust with the consumer. As a result, the consumer doesn’t want to go anywhere else. That’s the affinity and the loyalty I’m referring to.

Many brands are thinking of COVID-19 as a fleeting period, that they just need to weather it and then everything will go back to normal. I don’t think that’s going to happen. The brand that did really well when times were really tough, that has built up the most equity and trust with consumers to-date, will come out the other end of this in great shape. Those who’ve failed or stumbled their way through this are probably going to suffer.

Being data-driven in marketing is less about cold calculations and decision making based on dry statistics and more about leveraging the specific data points that drive personalized and empathetic experiences. The focus on big data should really be more about an obsession with the best data and the most valuable data points are the ones that lead to growth in consumer frequency and recency metrics via experiences that are surprisingly delightful to the consumer. And in our current climate, those touchpoints are built from data points filtered through human intelligence and empathy, with person and machine playing equal parts.

Challenges Of Implementing A Data-Driven Marketing Approach

Ayzenberg VP of product and technology Chris Strawser on the challenges marketers face in adopting a data-driven marketing approach.

The pandemic has forced businesses to face radical changes overnight, mandating an even faster launch of digital transformations and marketing efficiencies. Having been in technology for almost 20 years now, I’ve seen a steady progression of brands pursuing what became known as data-driven strategies. In unforeseen circumstances like the pandemic, the need for these strategies is paramount as data helps you navigate with confidence so you can always position your business for growth.

Lockdown has led to a shift to digital channels and the acceleration of digital communications, throwing some brands for a loop—how do I reach my customer where they are now? Which is essentially in their living room, and will continue to be until we return to normalcy. Because prior effective strategies may not be enough to pivot, data-driven marketing is critical. However, some brands may be experiencing challenges in leveraging such an approach, which I’m breaking down here.

Building Underlying Infrastructure

What’s always been a really big challenge to utilizing a data-driven marketing approach is finding the time, the people and the money, as well as getting organizational buy-in, to break down the data silos. Typically, in most organizations, data doesn’t just live in one place; it’s owned by several different stakeholders, many of which don’t necessarily communicate on a consistent basis about how to access each other’s data. This devolves into a very fractured state internally. Many times I’ve consulted with clients who were spending $10 million over just a three-year period in order to get their technical infrastructure in a better spot to warehouse their data more effectively.

Understanding And Making The Data Usable

A problem that I run into consistently is that even if a brand has been taking their data seriously and they’ve had a roadmap in place, they still have to coalesce the data to a point where their marketing strategy can actually use this data. Sometimes that can take a long time. The challenge here is getting the data in a form that’s actually usable. You must merge all your different data sources in a way that allows you to harmonize that data around a particular consumer. You might have a pretty good understanding of their patterns and their behaviors, what they like, what they don’t like, what they tend to do and what they tend not to do. 

To market around what the data is saying to you about consumers on a consistent basis requires the creation of a system, which takes a while to do. For brands that are not using data as much as they would like to, a lot of times actually they really would like to, but they don’t have a system in place to leverage the data that they have floating around somewhere.

Tracking The Consumer

Today there is a proliferation of experiences outside of what a brand can hoist upon the consumer. Where the consumer journey was once linear, COVID has made it so the consumer journey is mainly digital, eliminating several experiences for some brands and verticals that were physical and/or hybrid. These challenges are heightened because all of a sudden now brands feel like they need even more data on the consumer; they want to know more about how they’re experiencing the brand and how they can make their experiences better. And they also want to be more sympathetic to their experiences, with some brands finding that their consumer feedback is, “You guys really need to get your act together.” This is reflective of a much larger trend, which is the evolution from a consumer journey to a consumer constellation that consists of multiple touchpoints.

For example, a small restaurant business won’t survive if all they’ve done to respond to COVID is shift to online ordering but fail to communicate to customers when their order will be ready to be picked up. Data and technology at people’s disposal makes end-to-end easier but you still can’t drop the ball. The technology is only there to facilitate a process that needs human intelligence to be applied to it.

Listen In: The Science In Marketing Science

We’re back with another episode of’s new weekly series Listen In, hosted by Ayzenberg principal and ECD Matt Bretz. This week we’re featuring a conversation with’s associate director of marketing science, Piotr Urbanski.

About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg will interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

Coca-Cola Partners With BeApp To Launch 60-Day Live-Streamed Concert Series

Coca-Cola has partnered with a new live music streaming platform called BeApp to launch Coke Studio Sessions, bringing fans 60 consecutive days of intimate live-streamed concerts.

Through BeApp, available for free on iOS and Android, fans can access immersive performances daily, at 7 p.m. ET, from 100 artists worldwide, including Katy Perry, Bebe Rexha, Miguel, Steve Aoki and the cast of Hamilton. 

BeApp’s first weekend of live streaming kicked off on May 14 with performances from Diplo and DJ Khaled, among others. Reruns of concerts will be archived on BeApp or Coca-Cola’s YouTube channel within 24 hours after they’ve streamed.

BeApp offers a gamified experience that enables fans to invite friends and family to join live streams, gain currency points through interacting and sharing through the app and redeem points for prizes like artist shout outs, BeApp merchandise and “front row seats.” For example, when fans win seat upgrades, their photo and name will be visible to live-stream viewers.

Throughout the 60-day Coke Studio Sessions, fans can also donate to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to support relief efforts. Coca-Cola will match up to $3 million in donations made through the activation.

Coca-Cola says it was in talks with BeApp about the Coke Studio Sessions well before the pandemic but accelerated the launch as stay-at-home orders remained in effect.

Verizon launched a similar series called Pay It Forward Live, which aims to keep live music alive while supporting small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, artists perform live from their living rooms. Fans can watch via Verizon’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as Yahoo, Fios channel 501 and 604, among others. For every use of the hashtag #PayItForwardLIVE, Verizon pledges $10 toward small businesses for up to $2.5 million. 

As for how organizers of major musical events have responded to limitations: On April 18, Global Citizen broadcasted an eight-hour cross-platform musical special in partnership with the World Health Organization in support of healthcare workers. Coca-Cola was one of 12 corporate partners behind the digital event. 

Music festivals have pivoted virtually at a time when venues are closed and consumers turn to live-streamed events for respite from the current state of affairs. According to the tenth wave of The Harris Poll’s COVID-19 survey, conducted between May 1-3 among 2,039 US adults, 56 percent of Americans say they’re listening to music to cope with stress and anxiety, including 67 percent of 18-34 year-olds.

The Harris Poll also found that 35 percent of Americans accessed a free trial or activated a new subscription for music, news, fitness, or online learning service during March and April.

Marketers Value Content But Aren’t Using Tech To Manage It

Seventy-two percent of marketers view content as a core business strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) report, “2020 Content Management & Strategy Survey,” fielded pre-pandemic in January and February. Yet the findings suggest that organizations are not using technology sufficiently to carry out strategic content management.

Just 23 percent of respondents say they’re extremely or very successful with strategically managing content across their business. Half of the respondents attributed the success of their content strategy to the ability to connect with their audience’s values, interests and/or pain points.

The two primary considerations while planning content include driving the brand’s value proposition (82 percent) followed by showing empathy with customers’ values, interests and/or pain points (78 percent).

Nearly half (43 percent) of respondents say they take a project-focused response to creating content.

Seventy-eight percent of marketers say their organization takes a strategic approach to managing content. When asked why their organization doesn’t take a strategic approach to content management, 63 percent of respondents named a lack of processes and 57 percent reported that leadership hasn’t made it a priority. A little over half (52 percent) cited a lack of financial investment in resources.

What’s more, 73 percent of respondents say they either don’t have the right technology to strategically manage content or they aren’t fully using the technology they have to its potential.

The top three cited content technologies in place include social media publishing and analytics (90 percent), email marketing software (84 percent) and content management systems (71 percent).

Other challenges to strategic content management include inadequate staff skilled in content strategy (63 percent) and communications between teams (60 percent).

The CMI’s findings are based on responses from 250 content marketing managers from organizations of over 50 employees.

Report: Data Intelligent Businesses More Likely To Exceed Revenue Goals

Businesses that use data intelligence to drive their strategy are 58 percent more likely to exceed their revenue goals than non-data intelligent organizations, according to a survey of 906 global businesses conducted in January 2020 by Forrester Consulting, on behalf of Collibra. The study defines “data-intelligent organizations” as “those who agree they have the ability to connect the right data, insights and algorithms so people can drive business value through data.”

The Business Impact of Data Intelligent Management” found that companies respect data-centricity but inconsistently execute it. For example, 84 percent of business analysts in the study agreed that it’s important to prioritize data at the heart of their crucial business decisions and strategies, but only half are actually doing so.

Data intelligent businesses are more likely to reach their main business goals and are better at mitigating risk exposure, addressing privacy and improving consumer trust. These organizations saw an 8 percent advantage in improving customer trust, an 81 percent advantage in increasing revenue and a 173 percent advantage in better complying with regulations and requirements.

Sixty-six percent of Australian businesses are most likely to routinely or always leverage data for decisions, followed by the same 62 percent of US businesses and 52 percent of European businesses.

Nearly all data intelligent businesses rate themselves as capable or very capable of excelling across the seven pillars of data management including finding data efficiently, accessing it, understanding it, applying it cross-functionally, publishing it, ensuring its accuracy and using it to drive business outcomes.

Still, nearly half of businesses fail to always or even routinely leverage data at the core of their business decisions. Manual data management tasks rob analysts at non-data intelligent organizations of the ability to leverage data.

Respondents reported spending 14 percent of their workweek on performing the actual data analysis, 12 percent on validating the accuracy of the data and 11 percent on aggregating the data into a usable dataset and the same for finding the data they need. As a result, these businesses are 55 percent less likely to say their data management strategies positively contribute to drive favorable business decisions.

Six out of 10 respondents reported that tools that streamline the search process for analysis, data access and data quality management will make data analysis somewhat or much easier.

More mature data intelligent companies plan to increase their investment in data management technology. In fact, they’re 52 percent more likely to increase spend on these tools than non-data intelligent organizations.

CTV Ad Spend Expected To Increase Dramatically

Most brands and agencies (97 percent) expect to invest in connected television (CTV) in the year ahead, and more than one-third believe they are currently investing too little. That’s according to an Integral Ad Science (IAS) and Digiday report, “The State of CTV,” conducted in February and March 2020. The report explores drivers of advertisers’ CTV interests as well as the pitfalls of CTV measurement and targeting.

CTV adoption was gaining momentum before the pandemic; in 2018, eMarketer predicted that 60 percent of the population will watch CTV by 2022. As people continue self-quarantining, interest in CTV has significantly grown, as 90 percent of people say they now have access to a CTV device.

In addition to finding that CTV ad spending is expected to increase dramatically, the data reveals that 10 percent of respondents are currently spending over $1 million on CTV. Twenty-seven percent are currently spending up to $100,000 a year while 10 percent are not investing in CTV advertising at all.

Although 44 percent of respondents say CTV ad spending should be set in the $100,001-$500,000 range, only 28 percent are investing this much. Still, 47 percent say that their CTV budget will be greater than $500,000 a year from now, compared to 36 percent who are already spending that much.

While respondents’ definitions of CTV vary, a majority define CTV as “video content consumed on a TV screen, delivered via an internet connection, including smart TVs and set-top boxes.” Whereas 12 percent define CTV as, “a mixture of both standard free-to-air TV and internet-delivered TV all in one place.”

A majority agree on what CTV entails, but many are confused about who sells specific inventory, slowing CTV adoption for advertisers. “Does a marketer go to a content owner, like NBC Universal or Roku, that aggregates inventory across various channels?” asks Matt Bayer, head of integrated sourcing, at CrossMedia. Bayer says a plethora of ad-network-like offerings exist, contributing to the confusion.

CTV advertising budgets also differ for different segments of the market, though most (38 percent) respondents say CTV is grouped with their digital ad budget. Whereas 29 percent consider CTV a part of their video budget, 18 percent combine CTV with TV budgets and 15 percent see CTV as a standalone budget item.

As for the quality of CTV vs. digital video content, 55 percent say the quality of CTV content is higher. If CTV content quality was to increase, 80 percent say the CTV inventory would become more valuable, 62 percent say it would be more effective and 65 percent say CTV would become a better platform to invest in.

The survey also found that 57 percent of respondents observe CTV engagement levels to be higher than those of digital video. Forty-four percent of brands say that CTV is the platform with the most potential for new video ad innovations, with 51 percent of agencies saying the same. Almost half (41 percent) of respondents say short-form studio-produced content presents the greatest opportunity to engage CTV audiences.

Despite its traction, CTV adoption will require consistent terminology, targeting and measurement. Currently, the top three factors that would increase investment in CTV for brands are improvements in brand suitability (48 percent), improvements in measurement/metrics (45 percent) and transparency in ad placements being purchased (45 percent). For agencies, it’s transparency in the ad placements being purchased (70 percent), improvements in measurement/metrics (66 percent) and the variety of ad placements available (34 percent).

When asked about the key performance indicators (KPIs) measuring successful ad performance on video content, 76 percent of advertisers named time-in-view/completed views, 74 percent named reach/delivered impressions and 57 percent named conversions. Though time-in-view ranks first, the metric for this KPI is fuzzy, as measurement is far behind actual consumer consumption. Uniform measurement across all channels is necessary for linear channel budgets to shift to CTV and advertiser spend to catch up to consumption trends.

Yet until advertisers can address CTV’s frequency-capping issue, measurement and transparency will lag. “Campaign basics, like frequency capping, are not yet the norm with CTV/OTT, and thus over-saturation can become an issue,” says Ben Allison, vice president, global media, VaynerMedia. For example, if consumers are binging a show, they’re being served the same ad repeatedly.

IAS surveyed 105 US respondents from Digiday’s audience, 58 percent of which are agencies and 42 percent of which are brands. 

SONIC App Sees Significant Lift In Downloads With RCS Pilot

SONIC Drive-In saw five times more app downloads with rich communication services (RCS) than with previous multimedia messaging services (MMS), a pilot conducted by Mobivity from January 14-17 revealed.

Backed by Google’s RCS Business Messaging, the pilot delivered interactive messaging about the SONIC Drive-In app to targeted customers across over 3,500 locations. As a result, SONIC saw five times as many app downloads versus MMS mobile messaging and a three times higher app registration rate versus standard downloads from MMS recipients. In addition, SONIC saw a 50 percent purchase rate from consumers who registered on the app.

Mobivity and SONIC ran the pilot without leveraging offers, discounts or other incentives typically used within the quick service restaurant (QSR) category.

SONIC’s RCS pilot provides an example of how brands can leverage RCS to enhance communication with customers. Given its multimedia capabilities, RCS is meant to succeed standard short message service (SMS) and streamline cross-device messaging. RCS enables companies to visually brand their messages so consumers can tell who the message is from. With RCS, brands can also send image carousels that include an embedded call-to-action (CTA) via text. Through secure mobile transactions, RCS could be a major game changer for digitally native companies to conduct business via text.

In 2018, Google announced that it would use RCS as the basis for the Android messaging platform, Chat. Shortly thereafter Samsung and Google partnered to ensure RCS works cohesively between their messaging apps across all devices.

According to Mobilesquared, two percent of US consumers could receive an RCS business message on their mobile phone at the end of 2018. By the end of 2019, the figure grew to 17 percent.

Events Take The Virtual Stage

In the past weeks we’ve seen event after event get cancelled, but that doesn’t mean the events can’t make the shift to a digital event. That’s where virtual reality is stepping up and companies are leaning into the medium to help bring their events to life. 

This week we’re highlighting a couple of standouts that caught our attention and how they’re bringing their events to virtual reality or helping you bring yours to the masses through this technology.

Tribeca Hits The Virtual Screen

What’s happening: Cinema360 brings Tribeca Immersive to VR with Oculus. Tribeca Immersive, the innovative storytelling segment, offers virtual reality headsets owners to explore four 30-40 minute curated programs. Films are viewable now through April 26th in Oculus TV. Just like a physical event, these are time limited which encourages VR headset owners to check out the content now so they don’t miss out.

Why it matters: Aside from this being a great way to continue this portion of the festival, despite current global conditions, fans of the film festival that may not otherwise have the opportunity to watch this content are now able to experience it firsthand. This has taken Tribeca from a single location and given a global audience a chance to experience this unique event. From a marketing POV consider the new audience and reach that leveraging VR can present to these new cultural experiences and look for opportunities to reach these new audiences. 

HTC Offering VR Event Space

What’s happening: HTC pitches ‘Vive Events’ as they’ve identified a need and desire for businesses to continue participating in events. The events are meant to take the place of physical conferences and expos and can support up to 5,000 attendees at once. 

Why it matters: Even though everyone is staying home and most big conferences are getting cancelled, virtual reality is providing the presence people love to would-be conference attendees. If you’re planning a conference and are uncertain of the future of your event, it might be worth looking into this digital alternative to bring your audience and industry together while staying apart. The service also offers a way for people without VR headsets to participate, so anyone and everyone can still join in. 

The NBA, Microsoft Team Up To Create AI-Enabled Streaming Service

The NBA and Microsoft inked a multiyear deal to create a new artificial intelligence-enabled streaming service that delivers personalized game broadcasts and additional sports content. 

Microsoft Azure’s machine learning and data analytics will present users with localized experiences tailored to their preferences and rewards participation including real-time start overlays, alternative audio and video feeds and gaming elements. Users can earn loyalty points when they watch games, share content from the platform or buy tickets or merchandise, as reported by Variety.

The NBA says fans could potentially apply tiered rewards, status badges and streaks toward discounts on tickets, exclusive content, merchandise or the NBA League Pass, its subscription service that includes out-of-market games.

Additionally, through Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing services, the NBA will show users videos from its archives based on viewer history and location. The NBA aims to continue customizing these experiences for fans, coaches and broadcasters with the insights it gathers from the platform.

The deal marks Microsoft’s new role as the NBA’s official AI partner, entitlement partner of the NBA Draft Combine starting next season and associate partner of future events including NBA All-Star, WNBA All-Star and MGM Resorts NBA Summer League.

The new streaming service, which will become an updated version of the NBA app, is in development and will go live as soon as possible.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said of the announcement, “Our goal, working with Microsoft, is to create customized content that allows fans — whether they are in an NBA arena or watching from anywhere around the world — to immerse themselves in all aspects of the game and engage directly with our teams and players.”

Over the last few years the NBA has been working to reach younger fans via interactive digital experiences similar to those that Twitch offers. In December 2017, the NBA teamed up with Twitch to stream up to six minor league games per week during the season. And in June 2019, ESPN hosted a telecast of Game 2 of the NBA Finals on the ESPN app. Mimicking Twitch esports experiences, the game play included emoji-like symbols to appeal to viewers ages 12-17.