Contextual Insights: Is it really a Game Changer?

Every marketer and advertiser wants to target their known and unknown audiences to achieve optimal engagement and ultimately drive ROI. In an age where consumers are bombarded with a constant stream of information and advertisements, the ability to deliver content that resonates with individuals in the ‘right place and time’ has not just become the ‘holy grail’ of advertising and marketing, but a necessity.

And one of the most exciting advancements within AI and data is Contextual Insights.

In it’s simplest form, contextual insights refers to the practice of leveraging data and AI to extract valuable insights into consumers based on their current context. This context can encompass a wide range of factors, including location, time of day, device, browsing behavior, interests, and even environmental elements such as weather and events. By harnessing this wealth of information, advertisers can create tailored content that is more likely to capture the attention of their target audience.

Further, contextual insights can enhance the value of a marketers first-party data by providing a deeper understanding of customer behavior, preferences, and intent. Let’s dig a little deeper:

The Power of First-Party Data

First-party data, also known as “owned data,” includes information collected from your website, mobile apps, customer interactions, and other direct touchpoints. It is invaluable for understanding customer behavior, creating targeted marketing campaigns, and improving customer experiences. Brands use this data to personalize content, tailor marketing strategies, and ultimately drive conversions and loyalty.

The Challenge of Isolated Data

While first-party data is essential, it can be somewhat isolated, focusing on past interactions and purchases – which although hugely valuable, doesn reveal the whole picture. To maximize its potential, businesses need a more holistic understanding of their customers. This is where contextual insights come into play, enriching first-party data by providing a broader context around customer behavior.

Contextual Insights Explained

Contextual insights involve understanding the surrounding circumstances and factors that influence a customer’s behavior. They go beyond mere demographic information or purchase history. Instead, they explore the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind customer actions.

Let’s explore how contextual insights enhance first-party data:

  1. Real-Time Behavior Analysis: Contextual insights provide real-time information about customer behavior, enabling businesses to respond more effectively. For example, knowing that a customer is browsing for winter clothing during a heatwave might prompt a special promotion for lightweight, summer apparel.
  2. Predictive Analytics: By examining contextual data, businesses can make educated predictions about future customer behavior. This allows for more accurate targeting and a better understanding of what products or services customers might be interested in.
  3. Content Personalization: Contextual insights help businesses create personalized content that resonates with customers on a deeper level. If a customer has been researching home improvement projects, showing them relevant articles or products related to their interests can significantly improve engagement.
  4. Improved Customer Segmentation: Understanding the context of customer interactions allows for more precise segmentation. This enables businesses to tailor their marketing efforts to specific customer groups, increasing the chances of success.
  5. Enhanced Customer Journey Mapping: Contextual insights help in mapping out the customer journey more comprehensively. This, in turn, helps businesses identify pain points, optimize processes, and provide a smoother customer experience.

The Role of AI and Machine Learning

The collection and analysis of contextual insights are made possible by incredible advancements in AI and machine learning (ML). These technologies, such as our very own 4D, allow businesses to process vast amounts of data and derive valuable insights quickly. For instance, AI algorithms can analyze search queries and other online behavior to understand the context in which customers are making decisions.

What’s more, the nature of contextual insight extraction means by default the methodology is fully safe as it does not rely on personal data. As businesses delve deeper into delivering the most engaging customer experience, they must also be mindful of privacy and ethical considerations. Customer consent, data protection regulations, and responsible data usage are essential components of this process, and customer trust is paramount. By blending contextual insights with first-party data, marketers can start to enrich their audiences – and therefore their messaging – with confidence that they are doing so whilst looking after their consumers.

To summarise.

Contextual insights are revolutionizing the way businesses utilise their first-party data assets to build stronger relationships with their audiences. In short, by providing a deeper understanding of customer behavior and intent, these insights enable more personalized marketing, improved customer experiences, and informed decision-making. It really is an exciting future; a future that Silverbullet is at the forefront of.


Marketing Automation: The Future of MarTech

In the ever-evolving world of digital advertising, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for success. With the rapid advancements in technology taking place every year, marketing automation continues to rise in popularity as brands look to deliver powerful CX strategies underpinned by data and AI technology. It offers a multitude of benefits that not only streamline processes but also enhance the overall effectiveness of marketing and ad campaigns. In this article, we will explore why marketing automation is poised to revolutionize the (M)adTech landscape.

 

Enhanced Personalization

One of the most significant advantages of marketing automation is the ability to create highly personalized and targeted campaigns. Automation tools can collect and analyze vast amounts of data, including user behaviour, preferences, and demographics, in real-time. This data-driven approach allows advertisers to deliver tailored content to individual users, resulting in higher engagement rates and improved ROI.

Improved Efficiency

Manual marketing and advertising campaign management can be time-consuming and prone to human errors. Marketing automation eliminates these challenges by automating routine tasks such as scheduling, budget allocation, and performance monitoring. This allows marketing professionals to focus on strategic planning and creative aspects, ultimately driving better results.

Real-time Optimization

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, the ability to adapt and optimize campaigns in real-time is crucial. Marketing automation tools continuously monitor the performance of marketing campaigns or ads and make adjustments based on predefined criteria. This dynamic approach ensures that ad spend is allocated to the most effective channels and audiences, maximizing the impact of each campaign.

Multichannel Integration

Marketing automation platforms often provide seamless integration with various advertising channels, including social media, search engines, email marketing, and display advertising. This integration enables advertisers to orchestrate cohesive and consistent cross-channel campaigns. For example, if a user interacts with an ad on social media, they may receive follow-up emails tailored to their interests, creating a unified brand experience.

Data-driven Decision Making

Data is the new oil, the new ‘bacon’ the new ‘renewable energy’. No matter what analogy you want to use, data is essentially the key in successful and meaningful marketing and advertising campaigns. Marketing automation not only collects data but also provides sophisticated analytics tools that offer valuable insights into campaign performance. Advertisers can make data-driven decisions to optimize their strategies, allocate budgets effectively, and identify trends that can inform future campaigns.

Enhanced Customer journey Mapping

Understanding the customer journey is essential for delivering the right message at the right time. Marketing automation allows advertisers to map out and visualize the customer journey, identifying touchpoints and opportunities for engagement. This holistic view helps in crafting more relevant and compelling ad experiences throughout the customer’s path to conversion.

Scalability

As businesses grow and expand, their advertising and marketing needs evolve. Marketing automation platforms are designed to scale with the organization’s requirements. Whether a company is running a small-scale campaign or managing a global ad strategy, automation tools can adapt to meet these demands, making them a flexible and future-proof solution for marketers.

Cost Efficiency

While marketing automation platforms do require an initial investment, the long-term benefits often outweigh the costs. By automating repetitive tasks and optimizing budgets, marketers can significantly reduce wastage and improve the efficiency of their campaigns. This cost-effectiveness is especially valuable in an era where budgets are scrutinized closely.

Marketing automation is undeniably a core feature within the marketers tool-belt. Its ability to harness data, improve efficiency, enhance personalization, and optimize campaigns in real-time is transforming the way businesses connect with their audiences. As the digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, businesses that embrace marketing automation will gain a competitive edge and stay at the forefront of the industry. It’s not just a trend; it’s the future of MarTech.


Unlocking the Secrets of Modern Audience Engagement: A Journey into Knowing the Unknown. 

This month’s debunked blog explores knowing the unknown.

As our digital world hurtles towards heightened privacy concerns and an amplified focus on first-party data, we stand at a significant crossroads, as we look to delve deeper into our audiences’ psyche. “Knowing the unknown” is a focus point for many leading global brands, as we step into the new marketing age.

A little refresh on known and unknown audiences:

  • Known Audiences: Picture these as close friends at a party – you know their likes, dislikes, and maybe even their embarrassing dance moves! Essentially, they are consumers whose characteristics, preferences, and behaviors are well understood by the organization.
  • Unknown Audiences: These are the intriguing strangers at the same party – mysterious and full of potential. You are not aware of their preferences, characteristics, or past interactions. These audiences may include potential customers, new market segments, casual browsers, etc.

The trick for many marketers today is to dance with both – the familiar and the mysterious – to craft a narrative that resonates no matter the audience. But how do we serenade these two distinct groups while the backdrop of our advertising stage is constantly evolving – especially with third-party cookies taking their final bow?

Many marketers are building strategies to unlock the value of first-party data in order to create that desired ‘single customer view’. And there is one friendly face that is helping many advertisers add reach and scale in the wake of the cookie; the myth, the legend, the one and only: Contextual Advertising.

Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it.

Far from being an arcane relic, contextual targeting is back, and having its Cinderella moment! Its simplicity focuses on reaching new audiences based on the context of the content they are consuming online. Instead of relying on demographic or behavioral data about individuals, contextual targeting considers the environment in which the content is presented.

A trip down memory lane: How Contextual Targeting Works:

  • Content Analysis: Contextual targeting algorithms analyze the content of webpages, including text, images, keywords, and metadata. This analysis helps determine the subject matter and context of the content.
  • Keywords/Contextual Categories: Advertisers can specify keywords or choose contextual categories that are relevant to their products or services. For example, an outdoor gear company might target content related to hiking, camping, or adventure travel.
  • Placement: Advertisements are then placed on webpages or within apps that match the chosen keywords or contextual categories. The goal is to ensure that the ad appears alongside content that is contextually relevant to the advertiser’s offerings.

In this evolving narrative, the real momentum lies in the convergence of contextual data signals with other third-party data elements, fostering a rich ecosystem of insights. Further, another exciting prospect for advertisers is blending their contextual strategies with first-party data streams, creating enriched profiles and fostering a continuous loop of learning and growth.

To hear more from myself and a host of industry experts, about how contextual targeting can transform your future strategies, register to the IAB State of Data Town Hall event!

Event Highlights:

  • Understanding the Privacy Landscape: Explore how to navigate the intricacies of targeting and measurement while respecting user privacy and data protection.
  • Harnessing First-Party Audience Data: Discover strategies on how to use data effectively to develop targeted campaigns that resonate with known audiences while respecting their preferences.
  • AI-Driven Strategies for Unknown Audiences: Gain practical tips on expanding reach to the unknown audience while preserving data privacy.

September 26th – 1pm – 2pm EST

Register HERE


Spotlight Interview: Exploring Privacy with MetaRouter.

This month, Andrea Ghibaudi sits down with Jonathan von Abo at MetaRouter, to discuss all things first-party data and privacy.

In recent years, marketers have become familiar with the phrase “death of the cookie” which has played a vital role in the industry ‘movement’ towards a better future centered around privacy and data management. This ‘movement’ is a direct response from the ever-increasing data privacy regulations and ongoing consumer backlash and has gained slow, yet steady momentum among enterprise businesses.

With many clients now searching for ways to improve their processes, look after their consumers, and provide better marketing and advertising solutions for their customers, the focus always comes down to one core asset: data. First-party data has long been crowned ‘king’ throughout the (m)adtech industry, but what does it truly mean to be able to deliver a powerful first-party data strategy?

To help explore the challenges and opportunities faced by many today, we invited Jonathan von Abo, Vice President of Partners and Alliances (EMEA) at MetaRouter, who sat down with our very own Andrea Ghibaudi in our latest DataTalks Interview!

Take it away guys:

A: Thank you for joining us today, Jonathan! Before we dive into the topic of first-party data for marketing, let’s give the readers a little overview of yourself, as well as the MetaRouter business.

J: Thank you so much for having me Andrea, always a pleasure speaking to you and continue our evolution – from BlueKai (DMP), to Treasure Data (CDP) – and now, MetaRouter, where we really focus on the infrastructure that drives customer data!

A little about me – I have spent my career firstly managing infrastructure, then moved into designing solutions and finally landed running alliance functions which has ultimately allowed me to combine my passions of building solutions and nurturing relationships. Yet, what’s more interesting to me, is the data landscape and its constant evolution.

Over the past (almost 10 years), we have journeyed through this minefield together and I think we are at a really cool inflection point where regulatory and technological changes are moving the landscape. Here at MetaRouter, feel that we are a key component in this new approach focusing on data ownership, compliance, sovereignty and probably wouldn’t be here talking to you now if you didn’t feel the same!

A: Thanks JvA. First-party data has long been touted as the ‘gold dust’ of our industry and has held onto its royal crown in recent years throughout the increased regulations from governing bodies. Yet, implementing a first-party data strategy is no easy feat. From your perspective, what is the first thing a client should do in order to build a robust, first-party data strategy?

J: Like every new buzzword it’s important to do your homework. Seemingly overnight, almost every bit of technology that touched customer data became a CDP – and so too has every tag magically become “first party”. The reason ‘first-party data’ is tricky to navigate, is because there aren’t so many loopholes. It requires thought and planning (just ask anyone in the midst of a GA4 migration and they will tell you) and a dedicated infrastructure.

Thankfully legislation and the third-party cookie deprecation is now making this change ‘mandatory’ for all, with significant fines being a very good driver for change. So in short – my answer would be “to commit”.

The longer you delay the further behind your competitors you are going to be when the inevitable change happens.

A: On that topic, many still sit on the fence when it comes to the third-party cookie deprecation; some want to ‘wait and see’ what the future will bring, and others feel it will be impossible to survive without them. What is your view on the ‘cookieless future’, and what advice would you give to those who still aren’t sure what the future holds?

J: If I may just get something off my chest whilst I have this opportunity as this really bugs me every time I hear it – there is no such thing as “death of the cookie”.

Cookies are not going away, without cookies 95% of the websites today would not work. Functional cookies drive site functionality. When we say “death of the cookie” what we really mean is cookies that collect all kinds of customer data and ship that data off to ‘who knows where’ to do ‘who knows what’! This is what is dying, and rightfully so!

Personally, I think the “wait and see” time has passed, not only because the deprecation date has now been set but also because this is so much bigger than just the loss of functionality. Just look at the fines being issued, Meta $1.2Billion, Amazon $746 Million (I can go on) – this is no longer just some trivial technical bump in the road. Businesses face serious consequences by not ensuring their customers are protected and the only way of truly ensuring this is by owning the data collection and managing the compliance and distribution of it, which happens to be the essence of what we are enabling at MetaRouter.

A: There have been many headlines over the years referring to ‘cookie fatigue’ and ‘consent fatigue’ regarding the processes in place to secure compliant data from consumers online, with many businesses relying on a third-party’s compliance standards. How does MetaRouter solve for this problem, and what are your visions for the future of compliance?

J: I’m not sure about cookie fatigue, but can see how “consent fatigue” is a certainly thing. Pop-up boxes on every single site asking a range of questions every time you visit are generally being ignored now (by just clicking accept) but are a necessary evil.

The way I see it, is that if you really cared then you have the opportunity to opt out, if you don’t then you can’t really complain. For us at MetaRouter, it’s reframing how we look at it; instead of a consent management tool, see it more as consent enforcement for your data pipelines. There are plenty of consent management tools out there, and so we don’t try to play in this space. Consent in its current form its very binary – its either ‘yes’ or ‘no’, on or ‘off’!

What we enable is a more granular approach – for example: If you have told a brand that you don’t wish for them to market or advertise to you we can do two things;

  1. Ensure, in an auditable way, that the information never leaves your organisation into any marketing or advertising channels, and;
  2. Deliver that data into a data warehouse, analytics or BI platform in a compliant format so that you still have the metrics required to shape your business for success.

Compliance – like everything else – will continue to evolve, and so our focus is on providing our clients with maximum flexibility and governance on customer requests.

A: Businesses across the globe are recognising that putting the customer at the centre of their thinking delivers better engagement, higher retention, and greater customer lifetime value – all resulting in smarter business outcomes and ultimately, better ROI. Have you got any examples of businesses that are ‘doing it well’ in terms of customer-centric data strategies?

J: We have been chasing this ‘Nirvana’ ever since I have been in this space which is almost 20 years now!

First with CRM, then DMP and now CDP. And the truth is, there is no single magic tool that will get you there, as the goalpost will keep moving. In reality, technology fads will come and go, and the only way of really getting close is by having a solid data strategy and investing in the ‘not so sexy stuff’ – the plumbing, the data collection, the infrastructure, the strategy. Like many successful projects, it’s not always the shiny thing that create success, but the execution itself.

I feel “Customer Centric” is another one of those buzzwords that everyone flaunts around, however very rarely holds much clout. There are very few brands that are truly committed to make this a reality. One such company is Patagonia, and this is because they have a strong and strategic ethos that runs throughout the entire business. People identify with this maniacal type of approach and is a big driver of their success.

A: Let’s go for one more question if that’s ok! MetaRouter are paving the way for the ‘DMP 2.0’ (the next-gen data management technology) that works alongside the CDP and acts as the perfect complement to the wider MarTech stack. Can you explain to our readers what this means for marketers who are looking to build a stronger first-party data strategy?

J: We have been very fortunate at MetaRouter, mainly down to our incredible founders and their fierce determination to enable change – but also down our loyal customers who have helped us build a solution that can truly move the needle.

Having spent 3 years at a CDP, I am well aware if its strengths but also it’s limitations. CDP’s have addressed a big proportion of the current market needs when it comes to engaging known customers with PII but with the deprecation of the third-party cookie – and the sunsetting of most DMP’s – there is new gaping hole in how brands can engage.

The good news is that whist MetaRouter is able to help clients own and govern all of their customer browser data, it can also provide them with a mechanism to address the anonymous audiences in the preferred walled garden because of the proprietary relationships we have been able to build with external vendors in a first-party way. In essence, this means that your CDP can allow businesses to address both known and unknown is a safe and compliant way – all based on your own, compliant first-party data.

A: It sounds pretty exciting, and we are so delighted to be strategic partners with MetaRouter. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. If people want to find you to discuss any of these topics further, how can they reach out?

Please do get in touch, I would love that. Simply drop me a message via LinkedIn:

Jonathan von Abo on LinkedIn


The Privacy-First Era: Lost in Translation. 

This month’s debunked blog explores the true reality of ‘privacy’.

The push towards a privacy-first era has, let’s be honest, been more of a slow walk than a race to the finish line. After years of witnessing the (m)adtech industry desperately try to make strides towards creating a safer digital world, there’s a real sense of fatigue throughout. Fatigue surrounding ‘post cookie’ deadlines; fatigue surrounding consent disclaimers; and fatigue surrounding the proclamations of the ‘new marketing age’.

It currently feels like we’re caught in a web of empty promises that reminds me a little of the ‘girl who cried wolf’, where constant misleading’s create wide-spread exhaustion. Despite various headlines stating that ‘privacy is the number one focus for brands’, the reality doesn’t seem to correspond, and we’re at risk of losing the real meaning behind a true ‘privacy-first era’.

Let’s explore how we got here.

Cookie & Consent Fatigue

Over the years, websites have increasingly become focused on asking consumers to ‘accept cookies’. As many of you reading this already know, the ‘opt-in’ process was designed to give users greater control over their data, in exchange for personalized and tailored advertising experiences. Sounds sensible right? But in practice, this has proven to be more of a ‘tick box’ exercise mapped out to ‘keep within the rules’, versus an exercise designed to protect the consumer.

Let’s be honest for a moment – have you ever paused to read the consent form (which can often be pages long) before you hit the ‘yes’ button? Even as industry experts, I am sure we are all guilty of clicking ‘yes’ to simply exit the banner quickly, rather than according to our individual advertising needs or desires.

It isn’t just the fact that consumers are left confused by how their data will be used. It’s that there are so many businesses within the consent string who will inadvertently be able to use their data when they innocently tap ‘accept’. We may be a generation of savvy, clued up consumers, yet, the existing process is so complicated, even an industry expert would be hard pressed to know exactly where their data has landed.

In an article written by Luca Bertuzzi for EURACTIV, he states “The EU Commission considers that many people are tired of these complex cookie banners and just give up on expressing their privacy preferences.”

It seems to me that this method of gaining consent (and therefore trust) has drifted so far away from what it was designed to do.

The Longest Deprecation of the Humble Cookie

As of today, we are set to see the first 1% of Google Chrome users migrate to Privacy Sandbox in the early months of 2024, according to Tech Crunch. Google’s original plan was to deprecate third-party cookies in its browser by Q2 2022, however not too long after the original announcement, Google extended its deadline until the end of 2023. In a blog post, VP of the Privacy Sandbox, Anthony Chavez wrote “The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome”.

Whether or not I agree with the constant delays from the tech giant, what I do agree with is the reason behind the deprecation. For far too long the adtech landscape has been underpinned by third-party cookies, that over time, have created a world of ‘grey areas’ when it comes to the protection of user data on the big wide web. Don’t get me wrong, I have used, promoted and worked with third-party cookies for the most part of my career, and it has been the bread and butter of programmatic since its very beginnings. But just because something is commonplace, doesn’t mean it stays relevant forever.

Some businesses feel that Google’s delay has only been to serve its own agenda, creating a new monopoly of control. Yet, many businesses refuse to believe the deprecation will actually happen, and would rather stick to what they know versus make a change for the future.

Once again, it feels like the driving force behind the cookie deprecation, has become lost in translation.

Putting Privacy Firmly on The Map

I believe it’s time to change this mindset. After all, we are – every single person reading this – consumers. Just because we work in this industry, doesn’t give us a free pass to play dirty.

Old ways of working are no longer applicable. Cookies will, whether you like it or not, be a thing of the past in the near future. Rather than ‘wait and see what happens’ why not act now? There is an abundance of incredible cookieless solutions available today, that can help to plug the cookie gap and allow you to reach consumers in the moments that matter to them – all without the use of personal data.

Sounds pretty good right? Get in touch with me today to find out more!

Why not send me a message on my LinkedIn!


Silverbullet Forms Partnership with MetaRouter to Deliver an Industry-First Solution for the Privacy-First Era.

Silverbullet, the leading boutique customer experience partner, is excited to announce its recent partnership with MetaRouter, the first fully server-side Customer Data Infrastructure, designed for performance, compliance, and control. This unique partnership will deliver an industry-first solution for the privacy-first era.

Businesses across the globe are recognizing that putting the customer at the center of their thinking delivers better engagement, higher retention, and greater customer lifetime value – all resulting in smarter business outcomes and ultimately, better ROI. In recent years, the increase in data privacy regulations and the demise of third-party cookies has placed an increased focus on customer experience in a privacy-centric world.

This partnership will provide a unique offering for organizations amid significant digital transformation initiatives. MetaRouter offers high levels of data security and governance through private cloud or platform as a service deployment, providing a first-party data collection tool to unlock powerful marketing, analytical, and ad-tech capabilities. This allows enterprises to eliminate the need for third-party browser tags or cookies, resulting in faster website speed, improved SEO, and higher conversion rates for brands.

“MetaRouter’s next-generation capabilities on anonymous first-party data management, activation and cross-domain tracking is a natural match for Silverbullet’s expertise, complementing our CX solutions suite and partner ecosystem. I am looking forward to exploring the many synergies between our organizations, and how together we can unlock measurable value for our customers”. Andrea Ghibaudi, Managing Director, Americas, Silverbullet.

Together, MetaRouter and Silverbullet will deliver an industry-first data strategy that operates in a cookieless world, with privacy and compliance management at the forefront. The joint offering will allow clients to unlock site optimization, anonymous addressability, enriched customer profiles, and real-time personalization.

“I have seen the incredible impact the team at Silverbullet can make having worked with them for almost a decade. Having successfully traversed the realms of DMP and CDP together, they have consistently been a trusted partner and a must-have as MetaRouter expands into the EMEA region. Their agility and ability to swiftly unlock technical capabilities to deliver impressive ROI for their clients perfectly aligns with our core principles and I am genuinely excited to have them join the MetaRouter family,” said Jonathan von Abo, Head of Alliances at MetaRouter.

About Silverbullet

Silverbullet is a leading Boutique Customer Experience (CX) Partner, designed to support organizations in the delivery of transformative marketing customer experiences across multiple touch-points. We help our clients to better communicate with their customers, whilst maximizing their investment in data and technology. Silverbullet operates globally with six offices across three regions: The Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

About MetaRouter

MetaRouter is the first fully server-side Customer Data Infrastructure, designed for performance, compliance, and control. Deployed on your private cloud, the platform replaces third-party tags and replicates their functionality with powerful and highly configurable server-to-server integrations serving some of the world’s largest retail, consumer packaged goods, and data-centric organizations.


Man vs Machine; Humans vs Robots; Consultant vs AI. 

This month, Elitsa Konstantinova, Director Strategic Services explores the ongoing discussions surrounding AI, and what it means for our future.

The (m)adtech landscape has faced numerous challenges in its lifetime, many of which have created uproars of concern. And these concerns often lie within the rise of technology. The paradox of technology advancements is that despite the incredible opportunities it brings, it equally takes away from another arena. I remember when I first started out in my career, the rise of technology advancements within ‘programmatic’ and ‘Open RTB’ was hitting headlines proclaiming ‘Man vs Machine’, or ‘The Robots Are Taking Over’. Skip forward to now, we’re witnessing a similar reaction to the rise of generated AI.

When ChatGPT was first introduced last November, there was a real sense of excitement and amazement – how on earth does it do that?! Even with some factual errors here and there, the hype surrounding conversational AI and chatbots became huge. But, with every new tool that breaks the mould, comes a real feeling of fear. What does this mean for me? What will my job look like in the near future? Am I going to be replaced by technology?

Like many, I began to ponder these questions myself. As a consultant within the marketing technology landscape, I did stop and think, ‘will AI change my role as I know it?’ Or worse, ‘will it surpass me in the future and consult better than I ever could?’

AI is nothing new. We have seen an abundance of technology advancements and innovations take place since the dawn of programmatic. Machine Learning, for example, has gone from strength to strength to help manage consumer data and orchestrate customer journeys; Data management platforms have evolved to customer data platforms as privacy and compliance became evermore important; And, marketing automation platforms continue to evolve and mature over time.

So what is it about this subcategory of AI that has ruffled our feathers?

Well, ChatGPT demonstrated the ability to summarize complex topics in the matter of minutes, seconds even. It is able to deliver a digestible summary of key information, as well as engage in a conversation and react to feedback, in a way that exceeds anything we have seen before. In fact, the technology has already been used globally to create complex written content in instances where it would have taken months to compile. So much so, ChatGPT has been used by students for their coursework, creating mass concerns over the misuse of the tool.

All of this noise, concern, and chatter around the AI tool got me thinking. How good is it really? And how can it both hinder me – or – complement me, in my day-to-day role as a consultant?

Myself and some equally interested colleagues did some testing. Firstly, let’s explore the positives.

Where can I apply ChatGPT?

  • Inform ourselves with accelerated speed across a topic or a question
  • Understand the building blocks of a topic
  • Quick fact-check
  • Re-write a paragraph and provide helpful structure to classify

Did ChatGPT intelligently summarize broad and complex topics – in an easy, digestible format – whilst detailing a key message and takeaway? Absolutely, and we were impressed! There is no doubt this level of artificial intelligence is unmatched by any previous similar solutions. What’s more, the most recent update, GPT-4, seriously ups the stakes.

However, do we think it will ‘take on’ – or even worse – replace consultancy? No, of course not.

Because despite the real concerns surrounding smart tech, there’s a part of us that knows there has to be a human element in order for things to work the way they should. Consulting is so much more than automatically generated content on a given topic – it’s about the true understanding of nuance, sentiment, and emotion. It’s about building relationships and trust. It’s about being able to adapt, change directions, and be nimble. It’s about the specifics around business objectives and measurable actions.

It’s about being human.

However, it will change things, and that’s a fact. Whether we see that change in the near future, or further down the line, it is facing us and our futures. But rather than see it as a tool to be feared, I urge you to see it for what it is – a tool to aid you and enhance your role. For me, I believe it will sharpen my skills as a consultant. In some instances, it might help ease my time, speed up certain projects and automate others. And on other occasions, it might help me gain strategic input, and give me more time to apply that ever-so-important human level of logic and thinking.

My final thought.

Picture this. You could have the most intelligent self-driving car that the world has ever seen. It could be packed with smart GPS systems that remember your previous destinations personal to you. It may even play your favorite playlist and set the aircon to your ultimate temperature. But remember this – you will always need a human mind to create the direction and path to reach your destination so that any technology or AI machine can get you there with efficiency. It’s mind and machine. Not one, or the other.

So, can AI replace consultants? No. Because if it could, you weren’t really consulting in the first place.

I would love to hear your opinions on this topic! Contact me via LinkedIn: Elitsa Konstantinova


3 Brands That Are Smashing Digital Customer Experiences 

This month, Elitsa Konstantinova, Director Strategic Services, and Miranda Magee, Strategic Services Consultant, explore their favourite brands who are leading the way in digital customer experiences, powered by data. 

We are both suckers for great marketing and advertising. Neither of us can tell you how many times we’ve seen a shiny new ad, perfectly tapping into our psyche, and driving us to act (and likely purchase something we did not need!) Yet, well executed advertising and marketing isn’t always the norm; still to this day, many brands are refusing to walk away from bad retargeting methods that frustrate so many of us. These bad experiences we are all far too familiar with has caused a huge backlash from consumers and their willingness to share their data, forcing global regulations to tighten down on data privacy. It’s not rocket science – old ways of working are no longer applicable in today’s world.

Consumer demands grow and evolve each year, and businesses really should be paying attention to building consumer trust and delivering a valued customer experience. In fact, 71% of consumers now expect personalised experiences online, and become frustrated when they don’t find it. And we don’t blame them. In a world where technology advancements in how to unlock the power of customer data is rife, businesses don’t really have an excuse for poor customer experiences any more.

However, for every business struggling (or refusing) to transform their marketing and advertising strategies, there’s an abundance of those doing a fantastic job. And, we are here to showcase a few that we absolutely love!

So buckle in, and let’s explore those who are simply smashing customer experiences through data and tech.

 

Airbnb (www.airbnb.co.uk

Airbnb is one of Miranda’s favourite brands to interact and engage with. A brand who relies solely on their online presence, Airbnb is the master of branding and delivering seamless CX. For the hotel industry Airbnb often is referred to as the ‘digital disruptors’, representing a system that takes advantage of human and technology innovations. From their ‘easy-to-use’ website and app, to their inspirational emails, we’re going to share some of our favourite examples.

  • In-App Personalisation: From a customer data and technology standpoint, Airbnb continues to improve its matching algorithms to present users with the most appropriate information and listings. Miranda uses the app to not only plan holidays she intends to go on, but also to browse the many places she could only dream of staying in!
  • “The Airbnb TV ads (which I have been known to cry at – did you see the one with the dog and Dolly Parton 😭) do an amazing job of driving me to open the app and have a flick through. When I initially open the app I’m met with the fun categories along the top toolbar – here I can have a look at the cow shaped huts in Suffolk, the tropical treehouses in Indonesia or the hillside mansions in LA. For me, a really convenient feature of the app is the search memory – a very simple thing that is actually very handy, removing the issue of having to input all location, dates and guest details all over again.”
  • The CX: We absolutely love the simplicity of the design. The main page of the app is a long scrolling experience including a sticky search bar, a whole bunch of recommendations and extensive content such as guidebooks. There’s no faffing about in a menu, discovery is baked into the homepage of the app.
  • Email Marketing: Further, Airbnb executes pretty good email marketing campaigns. They understand what the perfect amount of emails are needed, to gently nudge you back into browsing and booking, but aren’t so pushy that you’re forced to unsubscribe. They personalise their emails based on properties you were previously looking at and bring in their own suggestions around the same price bracket. Their marketing emails don’t even feel too marketing-y, sending broader emails based on their top bar categories (hello beach houses) and sharing posts based on relevant topics like where to stay for the marathon and coronation. Finally, the tone of voice used by Airbnb brings a level of warmth, comfort and friendliness that makes browsing and booking feel stress free.

You can explore some of Airbnb’s other technical advancements in this article in Hospitalitynet.org. 

 

H&M (www2.hm.com) 

H&M is one of our most used fashion brands – not because of the clothing quality as such – but because of their investment into their digital channels. We are huge advocates of retail therapy, and have both signed up to all the high-street apps; from Zara, to ASOS – you name it, we’re on it. But, there’s something about H&M that just hits the mark.

  • The CX: When you download the H&M app, you are encouraged (not forced) to become a H&M member. It’s free to sign up, and offers you personalised benefits as a loyal customer. From a monetary voucher on your birthday, to exclusive membership discounts and ‘first-looks’ on new product ranges, being a H&M member offers the true example of a value exchange.
  • The App & Site: There are a few things we love about the H&M online experience. First, the ‘Personalised Start Page’ on hm.com offers a customised welcome page when customers visit the site with tailor-made inspiration and suggestions based on your style preferences. Second, ‘Styleboard’ is a feature within the H&M app that allows customers to create their own mood-board using items from H&M Group brands and outside the H&M universe. They can also shop from their style-boards directly. And finally, ‘Visual search’. Through image recognition technology, this feature makes recommendations and suggestions for styling and matching items based on pictures that you have taken or been inspired by.
  • The In-Store and Online Hybrid: H&M, like many, are putting the wheels in motion for the future of retail, joining the digital and physical worlds. ‘Find in store’ is a feature on hm.com that helps customers locate quickly and easily the product they are looking for in the size they want in a physical store location where the item is in stock. In-store-mode, within the H&M app, allows customers to see which items are in the store they are currently shopping in, as well as whether the item is available to purchase online.

H&M are investing heavily in their technical advancements – take a look at their 2022 report to discover all the incredible transformations they are exploring.

 

Tesco (www.tesco.com/

Tesco is the UK’s largest supermarket, with an annual turn over of £54.8 billion. From the ‘Tesco ClubCard’ offering loyalty benefits such as money off, to the partnership with German-based on-demand groceries suppliers, Gorillas, Tesco is one of the most advanced players in the digital transformation space.

  • The Online Experience: There is so much to talk about regarding Tesco’s online presence and impressive digital marketing experiences, but today we are focusing on one particular journey of being a Tesco Groceries customer. E-commerce is one of the most exciting, yet challenging opportunities for retailers. The “supermarket psychology” is a huge part of the consumer experience and revenue impact, and it relies on the shop visit itself; walking through the colourful, bold aisles with beautiful packaging, well-organised shelves and pockets of ‘special offers’. Many struggle to bring that in-store experience to their digital hubs. Yet, Tescos has truly blown Eli away!
  • Enhanced CX: E-commerce websites – as much as they can be well categorised – need another level of CX excellence when it comes to grocery shopping. Just think about the amount of products and categories they come with, it’s pretty mind blowing. Tesco’s approach to their online store is what I would consider as ‘best in class’, offering seamless consumer experience and easy shopping on the website. Two reasons why Eli loves it: 01| Generally, it is brilliant to navigateproducts follow classification based on how you would use or store them, i.e. fresh, frozen, item type etc., and there is the perfect level of subcategories. The combination of categorisation is brilliant: ‘search all’, or ‘see all” product’ visuals, interconnected categories such as ‘rest of’, or ‘bought with’ – it makes the customer experience extremely easy. 02| Smart Search: It is incredibly important to give users the option for sophisticated and efficient search to navigate the huge amount of online inventory. The recipe for success here consists of showing results quickly, allowing flexible sorting and filtering options. Further, it works well with common typo’s and a good level of common associations. It’s pretty clever stuff.
  • Personalisation & Recommendations: Whilst personalisation and recommendation belongs to the overall CX, we feel that Tesco’s online stores deserve a special shout-out for how this is built. We can clearly recognise AI being well leveraged and powering truly personalised user journeys, and some of our favourite factors include: 01| Solving the “supermarket psychology” problem for online shopping: so much happens to our brains and emotions when we are physically in store surrounded by the colours and packaging. Transferring that to digital is no easy feat. For Tesco, AI-driven recommendations come to the rescue, by suggesting possible ‘favourites’, ‘usuals’ and ‘top-bought products’. And the beauty is, the more you buy, the better these get trained, so you really do feel like you have a virtual shopping assistant. 02| “Are you sure you didn’t forget something?” – this is classic tactic in building a good e-commerce check-out experience, and Tesco has truly understood that. The check-out experience introduces several different stages where proactive and personalised suggestions are being made, whilst avoiding interruptions or frustrations throughout the user experience. In Eli’s words “The combination of ‘missed offers’ based on discounts and products that would result in savings, alongside the smart product suggestions often increase my total basket value up to 2X with products I actually need and have missed! “

 

Now we’ve converted you to book your holidays through AirBnB, to get your summer wardrobe from H&M, and order your BBQ favourites at Tesco, we’d love to hear your favourite brands. Who is standing out for you regarding customer experience?

Contact us today:

Elitsa Konstantinova

Miranda Magee


Spotlight Interview: How to leverage Treasure Data and execute a meaningful experience for your customers

This month, Andrea Ghibaudi, Managing Director, Americas at Silverbullet, interviews Andy Gremett, Director of Product Marketing at Treasure Data.

Many touted 2023 to be the year of personalization. The year where smart technology combined with customer data and consumer insights would come together in the most sophisticated way yet, to deliver meaningful, personalised marketing. And whilst I strongly believe that to be true, I think we should take things one step further, and place the ‘holistic customer experience’ (in essence, personalisation + context) as the top trend of the year.

How we, as consumers, interact with brands today, has drastically transformed – even over the past few years. As the world has slowly slotted back into place since the global pandemic, we are now faced with new challenges surrounding external economic, environmental, political and social forces, which is having an even bigger impact on how we engage with the brands we love, and those we are yet to find. One thing we do know is, consumer demands are stronger than ever before, with 73% expecting companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, and 64% wish companies would respond faster to meet their changing needs.

One of the most important components of creating a well-oiled customer experience strategy is in the adoption of data-centric technology, and the platform that sits at the very heart of that is a Customer Data Platform (CDP). Utilising a CDP drives greater efficiencies across a business and further helps to:

  • Increase marketing ROI due to smarter customer targeting and segmentation
  • Deliver better brand experience due to omnichannel views of customers
  • Allow marketers to be more creative through built-in regulatory compliance solutions

So I thought, what better way to showcase how leveraging a CDP can help marketeers execute meaningful customer experiences, than chatting to one of the leading platforms, Treasure Data!

Please welcome, Andy Gremett, Director of Product Marketing, Treasure Data

 

Andrea: Before we get into the detail, can you first give us a top-line overview of the Treasure Data Platform, and what us provides?

Andy:: Of course! Treasure Data was built to radically simplify customer data management and help brands use all of their customer data to improve campaign performance, achieve operational efficiency, and drive business value with connected customer experiences.

Further, our customer Data Cloud integrates customer data, connects identities in unified customer profiles, applies privacy, and makes insights and predictions available for Marketing, Service, Sales, and Operations to drive personalised engagement and improve customer acquisition, sales, and retention.  What really differentiates us here is that we lead with strength and scale as the backbone for the largest global, regional, nation-wide, and multi-brand businesses. In essence, we are an enterprise which speaks directly to the omnichannel view.

Treasure data’s platform makes it easier to understand and analyse customer behaviours, exploring preferences, trends, and making informed decisions. For example, it can track what content a customer has viewed, how they have interacted with a brand and on which platforms, as well as if they are likely to make a purchase. And with the growing prevalence of the omnichannel approach, connected customer experiences are key to growing your customer base, maintaining customer loyalty, and increasing the bottom line.

Andrea: Awesome, thank you. You mention above about connecting customer experiences – in order to execute meaningful customer experiences, it is important for marketers to understand the customer journey. Can you tell us a bit about how the Treasure Data platform aids in this understanding?

Andy: You are spot on – one of the key tactics in creating a connected customer experience is understanding the customer journey. In fact, we wrote about this too over on our site – check it out if you have time.

A customer journey, is the path that an individual customer or prospect takes as they interact with your brand, and so understanding the customer journey involves understanding your customers’ needs and perceptions. It typically isn’t linear and is often counterintuitive to what marketers predict. This insight can only be gained by collecting behavioural, transactional, and identity data over a period of time, and using this data to build a complete picture of each individual customer. In essence, a unified customer view.

The Treasure data Platform enables businesses to activate campaigns based on targeted, segmented, or personalised data to create more connected customer experiences across the entire customer journey across all channels.

Andrea: It sounds so interesting. So, I guess what would be really beneficial for our readers is to explore some use cases you guys are seeing across the CDP currently?

Andy: Of course, let’s take a look through a few examples.

Customer Loyalty Programs: In the current climate, keeping and growing existing customers is more important than ever.  CDPs play a strong role in managing and being successful with a loyalty program. (Example here)

 

Next Best Action Campaigns: Using Predictive Analysis and Machine Learning

Customer Data Cloud allows you to create audience segments and apply predictive analytics and machine learning to determine the next-best action for each segment to take. This allows you to understand and orchestrate the customer journey by moving them from one stage to the next with the right campaigns, delivered at the right time, on the right channel.

 

 

Andrea: Awesome, thank you for sharing. Following on from that, what sort of initiatives are CDPs typically included in?

Andy: Digital transformation is an initiative that often includes a CDP.  The ultimate point of ‘digital transformation’ is to help you best engage and serve your customers. To do that, you need accurate customer data to drive your processes, insights, and actions. A CDP’s ability to use all types of information from multiple sources allows it to create unified, robust customer profiles that contribute to deeper consumer insights–a competitive edge that is not easily matched.

By developing a deep understanding of your customers’ preferences and behaviours, you will gain a competitive edge. How?  Well it allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your customers’ preferences and behaviours, resulting in increased customer loyalty and engagement.  This data and insight allows you to identify and respond to market shifts quickly and efficiently.

Andrea: Finally, what would your final words of wisdom be to our readers in how they can execute meaningful experiences for their customers through the power of data and tech?

Andy: Good question! I would say, it is imperative to understand the customer journey in detail in order to build incredible results. Once you have nailed that down, you can use it to plan and inform your marketing strategy so that the customer experiences and interactions you deliver, effectively increase ROI. So if you’re looking to build a strong and enduring relationship with your customers in 2023, make understanding the customer journey a top priority. And of course, we are more than happy to talk! We work with you guys at Silverbullet on many joint projects and I believe your deep expertise in the customer data arena – combined with your knowledge of the Treasure data suite of tools – makes us a force to be reckoned with!

 

Why not chat to our Authors about how you can leverage Treasure Data and Silverbullet to transform your customer experience strategy:

Andrea Ghibaudi, Managing Director, Americas at Silverbullet
Andy Gremett, Director of Product Marketing at Treasure Data


Do You Really Know Where Your Ads Are Being Delivered on YouTube? 

This month’s debunked blog explores staying safe with video advertising.

Video advertising has been, and continues to be, the cool kid. It is one of the most popular ways to reach audiences at scale, playing an important role in consumers’ lives, not just for their entertainment, but also as a source of information for purchases.

In fact, over 90% of people surveyed by Google are discovering new brands and products or services on YouTube, with 40% having made a purchase. And, even more interesting, YouTube ads are 84% more likely to receive viewers’ attention than TV ads. That isn’t something to be shy about. With more than 2 billion users logging in to YouTube every month, and over 7 billion hours of video watched each week, YouTube Ads have huge potential for brands.

But, the question is, do brands really know where they are delivering ads on YouTube? And can they be 100% certain their brand is in suitable and safe environments?

Let’s dig a little deeper.

 

Are Brands Really Safe on YouTube?

This has long been debated throughout the industry, and not just within the youTube environment – the open web and social media arenas all present a platform of huge opportunity, but one full of uncertainty.

Who is responsible for that? This is where the debate gets sticky. Lets not forget back in February this year, the BBC (and many others) released the news  regarding the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, who was shot by Islamic State gunmen in Paris in 2015, accusing the internet giant of aiding and abetting the terrorist group by recommending its videos to users. Google, owners of YouTube, unsurprisingly, has argued it is not liable, referring back to a decades-old law.

Now, I totally get that this is an extreme example, and I am not by any means saying that brands’ ad campaigns will always fall into the dark web. However, it is something brands are (and should be) focusing on, with 40% expecting to witness an increase in brand safety concerns and subsequent actions. For me, the responsibility lies across everyone; on the platform level, YouTube itself, and on the strategic level it’s us – the products, vendors and agencies –  who are working on behalf of the brands themselves.

 

Do Brands Really Know Where Their Ads Are?

Often brands will use tools such as Google Audiences to identify their target market, however they’re not taking into context where the intended ad campaign was delivered. This is mostly down to the fact that Google won’t tell them. However, another part of the issue is that many brands don’t take the time to explore it further. And I don’t blame them – they have a million things to do with a million deadlines, and sometimes taking the simple route (which appears to be fine on the surface), is a ‘good enough option.

My argument is, is ‘good enough’ really, well, enough?

Let’s take an example. Say you are a ‘High-end, Luxury brand’. You would most likely select a ‘luxury’ audience to target, and other than a few other baseline parameters, you’re good to go. Now yes, a large portion of your ads will be delivered within relevant, luxury content. But there will be a significant portion that will go off-piste, slipping through the gaps and being delivered in contexts such as gaming, for example.

I’m pretty confident that if brands actually looked into where their content is being delivered, they’d be shocked. And let’s not forget the humble consumer in all of this. According to the IAB, 87% of consumers believe brands are responsible for ensuring ads appear in safe environments.

So come on brands! Let’s do things that are beyond good enough. Let’s do things that are brilliant.

 

How Can Brands Gain More Visibility?

Fear not, there is an answer! For many years now, there have been channel based options which allow a certain level of granularity. However, in order to truly understand where your ads are being delivered, you need to do this at a video ID level and tap into other data signals that may help protect your brand further.

And this is where 4D comes into play!

Simply put, 4D’s advanced computer vision technology ensures that your brand is protected at a video ID level. This means 4D is accessing, analysing and classifying video level data on YouTube to ensure nothing slips through the net! This enables your brand to know exactly which channels and videos your advertising will appear on, ensuring your brand is protected and that your ads are served in the right environments, to the right audience – in the moments that matter.

Drop me a line if you want to find out more!

My LinkedIn: HERE