This Casino Vet Is Using Customer-Focused Data to Power a New Analytics Practice

David Norton is helping agencies be more informed


Who David Norton

New gig Evp, integrated customer engagements and analytics, MDC

Old gig Chief marketing officer, Caesars Entertainment

Age 45

So are you essentially setting up a data consultancy at MDC?

My role is to set up an analytics practice, based on the success we had at Harrah’s, to help clients achieve a more customer-centric, data-driven approach to enhancing their customer experience. We’re set up to offer a complement to the agencies on RFPs when they hear from existing clients that they want to try something new.

What have been your early goals?

Certainly, trying to secure some new business, but also meeting people and building relationships at our agencies and really understanding what the opportunities are. We do want MDC and the agencies to be better at analytics. It’s about optimizing and enhancing. But we’re not centralizing analytics at the MDC level because you want the analysis to be closer to where decisions are being made.

How will your experience in the casino business inform your work at MDC?

Everyone seems to know and love what we did at Harrah’s, so I think that opens up doors to CMOs that other agencies might not have. There aren’t a lot of companies that are having a hard time making headway with the customer-centric analytics approach. Having lived through it, I think I can help our clients. In terms of our agencies, I understand partnering and being in the foxhole both day to day and building new capabilities that will make them better.

How do you advise your agencies to balance data and creative?

Everyone wants to analyze more deeply, but people do have day jobs. That’s true at agencies, and it’s true with clients. And what you want with a group like ours is to go deeper than agencies can because of some expertise on our part, but also time constraints. We help the agencies be more informed.

What is your relationship to MDC’s agencies?

It’s really as they see a need. They go in with their own heritage and pedigree, showing off great creative and probably win business on their own. But if you have a guy who’s part of that team who can, as needed, design a loyalty program, that should be a combination that beats our competitors.

Are agencies properly staffed and structured to make data really work for them?

Generally, yes. We just have a few extra resources that are spread across the country in support of the agencies that can provide slightly deeper work that will be more sophisticated than what they’re doing today.

What’s the one preconceived notion about data that’s getting in the way of progress?

A lot of people are talking about Big Data in a way that makes the problem too big to solve. People should chip away and make progress by understanding the customer’s wants and needs, and from there, building an analytic culture from within companies.

Which industry buzzword are you over?

I’ve never really liked CRM. People just use the term too broadly that it doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Is there a category that’s really ripe for your analytic approach at MDC?

Retail. They’re so good on the product side, operations and branding but really need to be better about the customer journey. Some, Burberry and Macy’s, have done some really interesting work with data. But in general, that industry is ripe to complement their product and merchandise orientation with a customer analytic orientation. It would be a home run.

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