The perfect consumer (data) journey

It’s common in marketing to talk about crafting a ‘consumer journey’. But like any journey, there are often bumps in the road. Discoveries from our recent work in the Digital Society Index and the Attention Economy reveal the challenges our industry is facing: From falling trust in technology, to redefining how the industry engages digitally, bringing consumers on a journey is becoming more difficult than ever. GDPR, walled gardens, ad blocking, and mobile companies restricting data access are more obstacles to overcome. It’s clear that we are going to have to change how we comprehend data in order to build that perfect ‘consumer journey’. Fortunately, developments within Cloud and Data Visualisation are enabling us to be able to interact with data better than ever before. Acquisitions are happening across the sector: At an all-stock valuation of $15.7 billion, Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau showed how important strong data visualisation tools are for the cloud sector. This is the final piece in the jigsaw, offering huge potential to understand consumer journeys and enabling those consumers to engage on their terms.

Data Visualisation + Cloud = Valuable connections and better partnerships.
Data Visualisation is the tool that can take all of those data points and create a clearer picture of the consumer. This picture is formed in a cloud-based system, which enables lots of data points to come into one place. Once you add AI and Machine Learning elements into the mix, you can predict patterns, visualize recommendations and adapt strategies in real time. This makes marketer’s jobs easier and enables consumers to engage on their terms. Bringing in these data points into one visualisation picture also benefits agency and client relationships. Like any relationship, mutual understanding is built on communication. Matching the data language agencies and clients speak enables both parties to develop more longer-term partnerships.

Implementing Data Visualisation also enables long-term and short-term thinking. Historically speaking, reporting on data only gives a short-term perspective: What did this consumer do? Did they click-through to the website? Did they view an ad? How long for? With the immediacy of programmatic and digital advertising, we limit the value that comes from taking a long-term perspective.

But with a data visualisation solution, we can ask bigger questions, like “what change can we drive for consumers long-term?” and “How can we measure long term effects within the attention economy?” Thinking long-term forces us to re-think measurement and re-think our KPIs. As a result, we can find long-term value by integrating new strategic metrics that correlate between brands, consumers, and channels.

Agencies can struggle to see the big picture, until they use the perfect data journey.
But what is the current reality without Data Visualisation? It’s a challenge, and one that Marketers know all-too-well in trying to understand as much about consumers as possible. Let’s say you have a consumer you want to reach. There are multiple data points to inform you about that consumer; including social media profiles, web usage, CRM, email addresses, as well as search and handset data. But it’s very hard to know how these points correlate. These data points create a picture which is only a half-truth, as the data is constantly changing. This is impossible to keep track of and makes reporting very time-consuming (sometimes even inaccurate).

But with Data Visualisation powered by cloud-based technology, agencies can better understand the story behind the data. This process is able to bring in diverse data points securely. It also brings in short-term operational analytics and long-term prediction capabilities (thanks to Machine Learning) that enables a viable way to use data visualization seamlessly. As a result, Agencies will be able to deliver data storytelling to clients in a more meaningful way. Thanks to a new generation of actors like the Salesforce-Tableau or Google-Looker combinations, we’re able to craft a perfect ‘consumer journey’ around data.


The added bonus for creativity.
This has a positive knock-on effect for developing creative. During the Cannes Lions festival this year, a major theme we discovered was how Adland is blocking the power of creativity. What emerged from the Palais this year was a desire to increasingly mix creativity with planning to power performance. Data Visualisation will allow marketers access to data in real-time. This means enabling more effective marketing decisions that can optimise content and creative performance, allowing dynamic content to be created on the fly. Data Visualisation may be an unlikely catalyst for creative change but allowing for a more long-term perspective enables marketing to get back to creativity.

How do we maximise the opportunity across agency networks?
Agencies need to have a streamlined service across their networks to effectively exploit the opportunities with this tech. I would predict that as these partnerships develop, Data Strategists will become a complementary role to strategists and planners. Once this is in place, the second step is to leverage the AI and Machine Learning capabilities to make decision making faster and more relevant to everyone in the decision making process. As the data picture is changing every day, it would be impossible for a human to keep up with. But for AI, this data is simply more fuel to make better recommendations. AI and ML, along with Data Visualisation, is going to be incredibly important in reaching consumers with the right creative at the right time. It’s what will enable agencies and clients to go on this consumer journey long-term.

In short, Data Visualisation will enable marketers to craft better consumer journeys. To know more about the consumer and tell the data story behind consumer engagement more effectively. It will also have positive knock-on effects for creativity and streamlining agency networks. Our research shows consumers are tuning out and switching off. Data Visualisation is one way we can re-connect.

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