In the midst of what seems like constant controversy, there still emerge positive examples of data done well. For proof, look no further than the Marketing Week Engage Awards.
With each new week you can be fairly certain there will be revelations of a new breach of customer records at one company or another. It has almost become desensitising.
Couple that with the confusion that surrounds Europe’s online privacy laws and the debate going on in the States about whether to restrict behavioural tracking of web users, and some marketers might begin to get the impression that data is a discipline too hot to touch.
But going by the evidence of Marketing Week’s Engage Awards last Tuesday, this is still an area where talented people are doing ground-breaking things and being richly rewarded for it.
The first case in point is the winner of Marketing Week’s Rising Star award, who has made his name as chief executive of online advertising company Struq. Sam Barnett (no relation, regrettably, though I’ll be carefully scouring the family tree just in case) has already made it into the Sunday Times’ Rich List supplement, having only founded his company in 2008.
He was unfortunately unable to receive his award in person last week thanks to a prior engagement with French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Among Struq’s achievements is to come up with an elegant solution to the problem of allowing internet users to choose what targeted ads they receive. As shown in the online demo, Struq’s Ad Pad actually encourages users to engage with not only the ad itself, but also the specific products they would like to see.
In the data marketing category, meanwhile, home shopping organisation Shop Direct triumphed with its entry, catchily titled “Delivering a step change in the relevancy of customer contacts through intelligent use of browsing data”. What it lacks in snappiness it makes up for in ROI.
Combining almost real-time browsing data with customer profiles, the aim was to move to true one-to-one targeted offers. These can now be based on a close understanding of a customer’s current purchase intentions, rather than on the broader, blunter sets of demographic data and past orders.
The figures behind the campaign, though they must remain off the record, are nonetheless impressive.
So although this is a field where unwelcome news is unfortunately common, there are those in the industry set on proving the business benefits that can be had by harnessing data.
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