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What: Carnival Cruise Line’s Christine Esteve, OMD Multicultural’s Ana Crandell, and CNN’s Seth Holladay kicked off the twelfth edition of Portada Miami with a panel entitled How Data and Content Continue to Fuel the Evolving World of Advertising.
Why it matters: Data continues to drive marketers’ efforts to gain the best and most granular understanding of markets and consumers, but Portada’s panelists offered some surprising back-to-basic advice as they enlightened the audience about the rapidly changing data and advertising landscape.

Data, and more of it, continues to guide strategy and content for media companies like CNN and brand marketers such as Carnival Cruise Lines. But participants in Portada Miami’s kickoff panel How Data and Content Continue to Fuel the Evolving World of Advertising had some surprisingly non-technical advice for their audience.

“You have to understand what you are trying to achieve. Then you have to find the data to support that,” panelist Andrew W. Russo, VP of Data Science at Starmark, advised the audience.

“It’s still about who, when, where, how, and what. I always ask: what is your objective when you start a project?”

Carnival Cruise Line’s VP of Ecommerce Cristine Esteve offered similar back-to-basics advice, noting that marketers sometimes make the mistake of using data that is drawn from samples that are not truly representative of the target audience they are trying to reach.

“It is imperative to know the sample from which the data is being sourced to be sure it is representative of the full breadth of the U.S. Make sure that the sample accurately represents against the segment you are planning,” she advised.

Esteve also emphasized the importance of having clear goals and objectives before wading into the complexity of using data to drive content.

You have to understand what you are trying to achieve. Then you have to find the data to support that.

OMD Multicultural’s Group Account Director Ana Crandell advised not to let the science obscure the importance of creativity in content creation. “The infusion of data has placed most of the focus on the science, but we as an industry need to swing the pendulum back to the artistic part as well.”

A/B Testing Alive and Well

A/B testing of content is alive and well at Carnival Cruise Lines, which uses it hundreds of times every day, according to Esteve, as it guides the use of headlines, product positioning, and how to build content that has a broad reach.

“Because of the complexity of all the data, and the fact that we can personalize content, we do a lot of A/B testing so that we are specifically talking to the different personal segments.

It is imperative to know the sample from which the data is being sourced.

A/B testing comes before machine learning, said CNN’s Seth Holladay, VP of Digital Research & Analytics for CNN. “Before you run a marathon, you have to be able to run a 5K.”

Insight: How CNN Mixes Data and Content

Panel moderator Guillermo Arduino, CNN Anchor and Correspondent for Encuentro
CNN en Español 
drilled down with questions aimed at understanding how CNN uses data to inform its content, audience understanding, and editorial strategy.

CNN collects data to both inform its editorial decisions and to give advertisers the most granular view of CNN’s wide and widely varied audience of viewers.

“We need to figure out what data to collect so that we can handle those dueling objectives,” Seth Holladay said.

CNN collects “tons of data” based on its audience’s viewing choices. “They are giving us tons of signals coming in the forms of what people are clicking on, where they are not clicking, what is causing them to leave the site, so we’re looking across the consumer touch points that we have. Then we connect this with our editors to inform their decisions on what they program, what content we program, where we put our resources,” Holladay said.

How Data Drives Content

Segmentation and statistical models are required to take data gathered from cookies and create a richer, more accurate knowledge of the target audience, according to Starmark’s Andrew Russo.

“We look for those statistical nuances to build content. I do a lot of work with digital marketing so I am looking at cookie data but it doesn’t tell me everything. We need to understand more about who we are targeting,” Russo said.

OMD Multicultural uses data to “inform content and develop the most important pieces of creative that then represent a perfect match to influence the consumer,” said Ana Crandell.

OMD also uses data on the “back end” to then validate that its creative strategies are working.

But creative still requires an artistic component, she emphasized. “Remember that the practice of media planning is both an art and a science.”

What: Block chain technology offers brands the opportunity to collect customer data and incentivize their behavior directly and transparently.
Why it matters: Customers can protect their personal data and monetize it, entering into a one-on-one relationship with brands through a technology called “smart contracts”. Smart contracts allow users to enter into data sharing agreements with brands that are “securely stored on the block chain along with the detailed terms and conditions.”

Block chain technology is poised to revolutionize how brands gather customers’ data and incentivize their behavior. The digital computer code that is best known for being used to create the crypto-currency known as “Bitcoin,” also allows for “smart contracts,” whereby two entities (i.e. a brand and a customer) can enter into agreements that are transparent, verifiable, secure and direct.

So what do “smart contracts” mean for brands?

Smart contracts backed by block chain technology have the potential to shatter the traditional paradigm whereby brands purchase customer data from third parties like Facebook, or loyalty programs that rely on consumer subscriptions but don’t provide a lot of purchasing behavior or product preferences information.

Enter Killi, a consumer application available on iOS or Android. Killi lets consumers sell their personal data directly to brands and receive compensation every time marketers choose to buy it.

Using block chain technology, Killi collects users’ locations and their purchasing data which is stored on the user’s device. Brands can then purchase the data with the permission of the app users.

A personal data locker is controlled by the user and secured by the block chain. This allows you to take back control of your personal data from those who are selling it today without your consent.

When users authorize brands to access their data, Killi stores the payment on the Killi app until users choose to redeem it.

“Killi acts as a personal data locker that is controlled by the user and secured by the block chain. Killi allows you to take back control of your personal data from those who are selling it today without your consent,” Killi tells consumers on its website.

The Killi website is a bit vague on how the technology actually works, but “the offering of being able to monetize your own personal info does sound intriguing,” said Jay Gumbiner, vice president for Latin America at IDC.

“We could even imagine some consumers being worth much more than others based on their purchasing habits, socioeconomic placement, educational level, etc.”

We could even imagine some consumers being worth much more than others based on their purchasing habits, socioeconomic placement, educational level, etc.

“In terms of using block chain for maintaining the integrity of that data and being able to easily track who has been able to access the information, it seems like blockchain could be a great use case for managing data such as this,” Gumbiner noted.

The Killi app relies on block chain technology to create what is known as a “smart contract” between the app users and brands.

Smart contracts allow users to enter into data sharing agreements with brands that are “securely stored on the block chain along with the detailed terms and conditions,” according to Yves Benchimol, CEO at the French startup Occi.

Thanks to these smart contracts and encryption via the block chain, consumers can “easily request an exhaustive list of all retailers/brands they have shared data with, and in which conditions, in compliance with GDPR,” Benchimol said.

Occi is working on its own products for retailers that use block chain and smart contract technology to reward customers while providing a rich set of data about their shopping behavior to brands.

Smart contracts with consumers provide a channel for consumers to share their information with brands, while providing brands new possibilities for influencing consumers’ behavior.

Brands can “create a campaign rewarding a shopper for visiting a store and define the amount they’re willing to reward a shopper along with a total budget, which will be locked in a smart contract,” Benchimol said.

Retailers have access to well-established sources of data on consumers’ preferences and behaviors from a wide range of sources, but new laws such as GDPR create barriers to using that data without consent.

Block chain and smart contract technology “bring forth a new way to solicit data sharing from shoppers, that is more transparent and fair because it directly rewards them,” Benchimol said.

What: Facebook unveiled a new anonymous internet monitoring software tracking tool. It named it “Journeys.” It’s designed so brands can see where consumer interact with brand advertising and their paths to decision-making. As a result, we asked Andrea Lopez, head of the social media agency Socialyse in Miami, to evaluate this new tool for advertisers.
Why it matters: With Journeys, Facebook promises to make “the paths to conversion available in a single report.” Therefore, this new tool will help brands decide which devices consumers use and where they convert into buyers the most. Consequently, it provides insight for strategizing where to best place online advertising assets.

Facebook Unveils New Technology

Concerns about the privacy of users’ data are rocking Facebook’s world. They exploded in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Data, after all, is central to Facebook’s business model. It’s also important to digital marketing at large.

Brands have a lot at stake in the effort to protect customer privacy. A single breach can destroy customer loyalty that takes years to earn.

At the recent F8 developer conference, Facebook unveiled new technology. It will give brands a powerful tool to see how customers interact with their Facebook pages, web assets containing the Facebook pixel, and Facebook SDK for apps.

As with all measurement, Facebook is sure to limit third-party access and clarity on the exact measurements, leaving us to question how much stock to put in this analysis.

The bottom line is new tracking technology that both brands—and customers—can love since it gives brands powerful insights into customers’ behavior without revealing customers’ identities.

Aptly named Journeys, the new technology is part of Facebook’s suite of analytics tools. They are available to advertisers on the Facebook platform.

Journeys lights up the path customers follow when interacting with a brand’s presence online. It reveals the multiple points customer touch online including at Facebook, on the web or a range of digital assets. Also, coverage includes apps and landing pages.

Internet Monitoring Software ‘No Magic Bullet’

“The new Facebook Journeys feature presents an interesting new opportunity in marketers’ ongoing mission to understand how a consumer interacts with a brand or product. It includes the various touchpoints involved in the path to driving towards an ultimate action,” says Andrea Lopez. She is head of the social media agency Socialyse.

But she warned against believing in any “magic bullet” especially one that could make advertisers’ jobs easier. Also, because she underscores the huge amount of information consumers are bombarded with as well as the devices available to them.

“As with all measurement, Facebook is sure to limit third-party access and clarity on the exact measurements. This leaves us to question how much stock to put in this analysis. It will be interesting to see how brands and marketers use this data. How much of it is applicable and useful versus interesting forms another consideration.”

With Journeys, Facebook promises to make “the paths to conversion available in a single report.

Brands will be able to see where customers began. Plus, they can see where customers ended up and the points in between as they moved through the process of making a purchasing decision. It will show how long customers spend on each asset and which channels they use.

“You can see omni-channel data and reporting, giving you a holistic view of the different interactions people have with your business before converting, making a purchase or subscribing,” Facebook explains on its analytics website.

Marketers dream of better placement of digital advertising assets resulting in increased conversions.

Moreover, the way Journeys protects customers’ data is likely to please consumers, too. That’s because Journey aggregates customer data. It does so anonymously to build its reports so individual data on consumers is not revealed.