Organic's Tom Thomas Explains How Marketers Use Data to Transform Business | Adweek Organic's Tom Thomas Explains How Marketers Use Data to Transform Business | Adweek
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Organic's Thomas Says Context Is King When Analyzing Data

Also, QR codes can be a true platform, not just gimmick

As one of marketing’s first digital agencies, Organic is credited with creating the industry’s first banner ad in 1994. Since then, Organic has had its share of ups and downs (remember the dot-com era?) and these days aims to reinvent itself again under new CEO David Shulman. The Omnicom Group agency brings that longtime perspective to current thinking about data and how marketers can best use it. Tom Thomas, Organic’s vp, marketing intelligence, recently shared some of his thoughts on the evolution of consumer information.

What are marketers’ most pressing needs in transforming data into insights?

Holistic context for how digital behavior is driving their business. Without that, marketers can become trapped in measurement; with context, they are in a position to optimize. The digital ecosystem is complex, and there is a wide variety of behaviors that happen across paid-, earned- and owned-media. The value of someone tweeting about a brand is different from a personally identified consumer downloading a mobile coupon. Additionally, the same metrics may have a different meaning depending on the consumer’s prior behavior. So, the value of a website visit from natural search is different from clicking on a display ad. These behaviors are captured across a variety of metrics and measurement tools that are often siloed and can create a lot of meaningless noise.

What’s the most interesting part of working with data for you?

It’s using the power of digital analytics to drive a more persistent one-to-one relationship between the brand and consumer. As we accumulate data, we are able to start painting a more accurate picture of each consumer regardless of where they are in the shopping journey. Digital technology and advanced analytics can now give us this picture more accurately and in real time. We can also predict the consumer’s behavior from his current picture based on others who have conducted similar behavior in the past. It’s possible to drive more conversion by predicting and serving the right message to the right consumer at the right time.

What’s happening with data innovation at retail?

Using CRM data to establish a one-to-one link to an existing consumer on the retail premise through their mobile device. Hospitality has started to do this successfully. It’s beginning in auto, but no one has cracked it in retail. So it will likely be the next big thing. Another is expanding the concept of QR (Quick Response) codes. If we know when consumers are in-store, when they engage in a mobile experience, we know they have different needs. Traditionally, QR codes have struggled to take hold because marketers have treated them more as a gimmick than a true platform. Brands need to have a clear vision of what benefits consumers will receive from using them.

How do clients use data dashboards?

If a client has an in-house analytics team, they may use a dashboard for active monitoring of daily metrics like site visits, Facebook likes, positive tweets, etc. They may also look for ways to manipulate the data behind a story to identify insights beyond what the agency is providing, but this is more the exception than the rule. Agencies use dashboards the most. We use them to query, combine and model data so that we can build hypothesis and identify insights that help us build a story for our clients.

How are marketers merging offline data with visual data, social media data and branded data, and loyalty cards?

What you're asking about is the epitome of holistic analytics. It requires combining offline and online media spending, digital performance across the paid, earned- and-owned-channel categories and economic influence. We started doing this for (former client) Chrysler and identified four to five high-value activities on their websites and then quantified the dollar value of each activity based on how it influenced sales at the dealership. Since we isolated the economic and offline media influence on the consumer, the digital influence was highly accurate. It eventually allowed us to predict Chrysler group sales within 4 percent accuracy and Jeep sales within 2 percent. We later expanded the solution to social media in the (consumer packaged-goods) space. We were able to quantify the influence of Twitter on sales of Healthy Choice. We identified that 90 positive tweets drove an incremental case sale of Healthy Choice. 

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