17 April 2015
Monetising Data has Never Been Simpler, say TFM&A Exhibitors
Establishing new products and revenue streams by accessing and utilising data to derive a profit has never been more straightforward, according to exhibitors and attendees at this year's Technology for Marketing & Advertising event.
A record number of visitors to the latest TFM&A (Technology For Marketing & Advertising) exhibition were served up something of a consensus at London's Olympia – with proper research and planning and the use of the most appropriate tools available, establishing new products and revenue streams has never been easier. Apparently.
The two-day event in February also attracted a record number of exhibitors selling, engaging and collaborating across increasingly sophisticated multi-media platforms. Overall, this was by far the most common theme at the exhibition's new London home.
TFM&A bills itself as the premier event for marketers to source and maximise the use of technology-powered marketing, enabling increased customer engagement, measurable returns and enhanced professional knowledge.
Dan Bell, Head of Marketing for organiser UBM, said coupling TFM&A with the Publishing & Media Expo, a UBM stablemate, and moving it from Earl's Court to a bigger venue seemed to have paid off. Some 4,000 visitors attended the event, a rise of 9% from a year earlier, with more than 200 exhibitors in 8,000 square metres of exhibition space. According to Bell, the number of senior-level marketers from leading brands, including American Express, Samsung and Sony, had also increased sharply.
In Bell's view, the other key themes to emerge at the event were marketing automation (courtesy of a number of major suppliers in the sector, notably Rely, Marketo and Enarsys), and the continuing move from search-engine optimisation (SEO)-led initiatives to content marketing. He said: "SEO is still, of course, hugely important, but we've seen a particularly sharp spike in interest this year from companies engaged in all forms of content gathering, analysis and marketing. Given this clear trend, our plans for the 2016 show will build further on this, with more emphasis on related areas of content such as learning and education."
Dave Chaffey, a former Marketing Executive with Ford and the Halifax Building Society, now runs SmartInsights, his own consultancy. He believes the current digital marketing landscape is mostly about "content recommendations, personalisation and targetting". He says it has never been simpler to monitor your competitors and identify what your customers – and your competitors' customers – are actually looking for.
The use of tools, from basic Google alerts and deploying Twitter lists of competitor companies on Hootsuite, to identifying visitors through reverse IP offers (such as Fast Web Media's Who Looked service) and spotting real-time trends (via products such Keyword Tool) mean the landscape has become truly transparent. Keyword Tool, for example, aggregates search terms and results across leading platforms, including Google, YouTube, Bing and even app downloads to enable canny marketers to spot what's really going on in any particular sector or market.
Chaffey promulgated a theory of creating the ultimate digital marketing plan by deploying his RACE programme – Reach, Act, Convert and Engage. This, he said, would advise users as to how they could better reach, interact with and convert clients from the digital space.
Hew Leith, a former M&C Saatchi Director who now runs 10x, an "innovation agency", suggested that today's marketer could do worse than to follow the example set by Tony Stark, Marvel Comic's fictional Iron Man character. This was particularly with regard to the way Stark overcomes adversity by utilising technology to create effective new ways to succeed.
Marketing-led innovation is a key factor behind the ascendancy of the mega-successes – notably Amazon and Alibaba – but Leith pointed out that digital innovation was also creating entirely new markets for companies as large as General Electric (GE) and Ocado.
GE leads the world with its MRI scanning offering, but a persistent side issue has been the fear the huge scanners instil in many people, particularly the young. As a consequence, Doug Dietz, an Innovation Architect with GE Healthcare, created a wholly new environment by animating the scanner as the Yellow Submarine, popularised in the 1966 Beatles song. According to Leith, the new service has been exceptionally popular in the US, allowing GE to establish a new revenue stream in hospitals by creating more user-friendly environments for its range of healthcare equipment.
In the UK, the online food delivery company Ocado has chosen to invest in Rapid Router, a new software package that allows primary-school-aged children to undertake elementary coding. Leith said the software had become so successful that it was now being used in many schools across the country, with licences being issued for its use overseas.
The benefit for Ocado, Leith maintained, was clear. The company is positioning itself as the world's largest online-only grocery retailer, with customers reliant on its mobile apps and website to place their orders, which are then fulfilled in its automated warehouses. Rapid Router has enabled the Ocado brand to permeate across thousands of schools and, subsequently, hundreds of thousands of homes. Leith said that with its 400-plus software engineers, all aiming "to create world-class coding that solves problems", company has been able to explore and deliver new commercial coding platforms.
Ray Coppinger, Senior Marketing Manager (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) at Marketo, a California-based marketing automation software specialist, has clear views about where digital marketing will be in a few years' time. In common with Chaffey, he believes there is a growing groundswell against social media, both in terms of intrusion and, increasingly, with regard to weak commercial returns.
Despite the proliferation of all things digital, in order to fully exploit your customer base, you still need an email address, unlike Facebook and Twitter. Many experts believe, however, that marketing in 2017 will look rather different, with generic email messages all but disappearing. Emails will be individual and personalised, and there will be significant investment in customer relationship management (CRM).
Kjersten Moody, the London-based Vice-president for Information & Analytics at Unilever, heads an international team of 500 data professionals across six continents. Having previously overseen global technology operations at Thomson Reuters, she now co-ordinates Unilever's engagement with – and service of – more than 20,000 users across the company's global business. She describes her role as "unlocking complex data which helps lead to smarter decision making".
According to Moody, she follows basic guiding principles in everything she commits to, saying: "Whatever you do, ensure you use data efficiently, but be careful you don't allow yourself to be distracted by data for data's sake. You need to continually ask yourself: 'How manageable is this issue to deal with if the data really does point to a different outcome?'"
The key target for Moody is, of course, the end-user. She cites several instances where data has delivered truly insightful answers and signposted innovative solutions, but the presentation of the data was too complicated to understand. Taking a slightly evangelical approach, she said: "Empower your marketing teams to tell stories with the data. It's about developing informative ongoing conversations with your customers. built upon robust, sound and totally defensive data."
Currently, Moody said her biggest bugbear remains company silos. Clarifying her concerns, she said: "Bridge the gap. Most companies I've worked for – or with – have two separate non-communicating ghettoes based around IT and marketing. This is crazy when, by common consensus, the best and most effective marketing acts upon the best data."
Technology For Marketing & Advertising took place on 25-26 February 2015, at Olympia in London. More than 200 exhibitors from more than 30 countries took part, with more than 4,000 visitors attending.
David Wilkinson, Special Correspondent, London