In an opinion piece posted on Fast Company’s coCREATE site, Tribal DDB agency CEO Paul Dunning exhorts marketers and agencies to get serious about adapting their strategies to make use of real-time data. The key question:
Given that there is now an understanding of audiences in near real time, why are marketers struggling to act on this valuable trove of data?
Among the obstacles he cites:
- most brands plan media budgets far in advance
- the complexity of the chain of players that must work together to make real-time marketing a reality
- the inability to “nimbly push through creative”
The solutions he offers:
- Swift approval processes for creative
- Involve legal from the start rather than trying to circumvent them
- Build “buffers” into budgets to allow for on-the-fly tweaks and/or new campaigns
I had a conversation today with an agency executive who shared several of the same concerns and issues. Creative, in particular, is a huge bottleneck, he said. Technology can help marketers and their agencies find opportunities to do real-time marketing, but creating the creative is still the domain of humans, who can only work so fast.
comScore this week announced the availability of Brand Survey Lift Pulse (BSL Pulse), a new tool that will give advertisers data about their campaigns in real time and help them optimize on the fly. According to the press release:
BSL Pulse enables agencies, publishers and brands to optimize campaigns in-flight, thereby helping to improve targeting, maximize yield and reduce wasted ad spend.
The product uses survey data to gauge consumer intent to purchase and likelihood to recommend as well as what is creating that impact (the creative, the publisher or the placement, for instance).
In my initial conversations about real-time marketing, the same example keeps coming up: Kraft Foods’ (now Mondelez International’s) Daily Twist campaign for Oreo. In that campaign, which ran from June through September, Oreo delivered a new ad every day for 100 days to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the oreo.com website. The twist (so to speak) of the marketing campaign was that each ad was created based on real-time information that Oreo’s marketers and agencies gathered. So news events played a role, as well as feedback from Oreo fans on social media sites. The ads can still be seen on a website set up for the campaign.
In an interview with The New York Times as the campaign was ending, Cindy Chen, marketing director for Oreo, said, ““Creating content in real time is not easy to do … But we’re happy to see that the content we’re creating has been found very relevant.”
After the campaign ended, Compete.com looked at the results. According to its analysis, the share of traffic in September 2012 from Facebook and YouTube to Nabisco.com increased – by 19.57 for Facebook and 29.97 for YouTube. 360i also included the campaign as an example of successful content marketing, in its whitepaper on that topic.
While some of the “twists” were certainly driven by real-time events, others seem to have been planned in advance (or at least they could have been). “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” for example, isn’t something that happened spur of the moment. On the other hand, “twists” themed to notable deaths (Nora Ephron, Neil Armstrong) couldn’t have been planned in advance. The campaign was certainly an example of how a marketer can bring several agency resources together for a common goal (it worked with multiple agency partners) and how advertisers can stretch their ability to be nimble and creative at the same time. But as an example of true real-time marketing it shows promise but also the limitations of what can be done on the fly. Creative execution takes time, and marketers can squeeze the cycle down, but a true real-time campaign would have taken even more immediate advantage of an event or trend.
Here’s a link to a video featuring a Performics Asia-Pacific exec, Gareth Mulryan, talking about how Performics supports real-time performance analysis. Key tidbit:
“Achieving real-time performance hinges on your ability to collect and quickly derive insights from large volumes of participant and cross-channel data.”
IBM’s Big Data Analytics Study
IBM recently published its “2012 Analytics Study” looking at real-world uses of big data. Among other things, it looks at where companies are in the evolution toward actively using big data.
The MIT Sloan Management Review has a fascinating interview with Simon Thompson, director of global business solutions and Esri, a company that provides geographic information systems technology. Esri is working on adapting GIS technology to include a variety of signals, including social and emotional information, as part of its trend-spotting activity. Two quotes from Thompson stood out for me:
Social media is in the inflection point of so many trends in computing and information science. It’s big data, arriving in real-time, and it’s crowd sourced. It’s totally unstructured yet full of sentiment and truly valuable data if you can connect it.
You can use any number of technologies to mine data streams and connect all this data together. You can say, “I can track everything that a person is doing and everywhere that he’s been. I can find his Twitter handle and his Facebook and his friends and everything else and bring it all together, to know everything about that person.” But the question is not what you can do with the information about that person, but what can you do for him?