The 5 'Ws' of Data-Driven Advertising

Data-driven insights offer advertisers a deeper look into who their customer are, how they behave, what they want, and how they respond to marketing activity.

Though many find today's influx of data to be daunting, such information has the potential to improve an organization's consumer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention. With insights to drive marketing decisions, advertisers now have an advantage that was once elusive, if not impossible, to grasp before the technological revolution. By collecting customer feedback, observing behavioral patterns, and analyzing campaign outcomes, data-driven advertising allows marketers to crawl inside the consumer's mind to extract the very insights necessary to develop campaigns that target the right customers via the appropriate channels at the right moment.

"With the advent of newer and more innovative means to engage with customers, companies will need to find newer ways to both understand as well as implement marketing strategies," says Anuj Krishna, delivery lead at Mu Sigma. "This understanding can only arrive through the cycle of creating new campaigns, collecting data and generating insights, and implementing the learnings to create newer campaigns. The differentiator for companies is how the data that has been collected is utilized to hasten the process and learn more."

By utilizing the data that already flows freely, marketers and can assess and understand the 'who, what, where, when, and why (and how)' behind successful, responsive advertising campaigns:


Before any advertising campaign can be truly successful, marketers must come to understand who their target audience is and what they want. Dan Sherr, vice president at Valassis, says that companies must establish who their customers are and why they are valuable to the brand. Customer relationships require much care, but just as the organization must continuously find ways to add value to the consumer's life, customers must also be worthy to the company's bottom line. Observing media habits and detailed consumer behaviors allows advertisers to evaluate and understand the consumer buying cycle, so as to base future decisions on who's on the receiving end of these campaigns and offers. Knowing the customer base also enables brands to simulate and predict how future campaign changes may impact the audience.


Once companies understand who their customers are, they can begin to deliver on what this audience wants. Integrating consumer behavioral data helps marketers develop tailored advertisements that tap into the consumers' interests. Such information can also help advertisers gauge which ads suit which social platforms best and the differing audiences that should be addressed accordingly.

"Ads are only effective if they convert eyeballs into shoppers," says Jerry Jao, CEO of Retention Science. "To do so, ads have to be targeted with a sensitive understanding of consumers' changing preferences and tastes. Customer feedback on products and services is also useful for marketers to develop relevant marketing campaigns and determine what products to promote. More importantly, marketers want to calculate the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) on each customer and determine if it makes business sense to market to that customer."


Though the range of data coming into any given organization offers a comprehensive look into the customer experience, most of this information exists in silos. As Wilson Raj, global director, customer intelligence at SAS, notes, for many companies, it's as if data exists in swim lanes, for every channel has information flowing within, yet the accompanying insights rarely cross into the other departments. Insights are typically executed by different teams despite the need to connect via one central data repository that allows the information to flow to all relevant sources. Due to silos, many businesses don't go beyond last touch attribution, crediting the last channel accessed as the one that pushed the consumer to purchase and forgetting all others that may have led to the final sale. But, as the general mindset begins to move away from silos to integrated, mixed model views, companies can come to understand what role each channel plays in customer acquisition and lifetime value.


For companies that have established who their customers are, what they want, and where they go during their customer journeys, they can also begin to establish when might be the ideal time to attract their attention. Don DeLoach, CEO of Infobright highlights the need to determine when certain ads succeed on certain channels, and when it's best to engage. "Do more targeted consumers convert from a mobile device? If so, does it make sense to optimize advertising for mobile display?" "How does such consumer sentiment then help marketers and advertisers take action to develop customized ads and deploy these messages via the most receptive channels?" By analyzing data to establish not only where, but when consumers come in contact with the brand, advertisers can target their messaging to get in front of as many eyes as possible.


When organizations take the time to analyze behavioral patterns, they can gain better insights as to why certain actions are occurring, thereby using that insight to adapt and leverage behavior to drive better results. Understanding why consumers behave in certain ways allows advertisers to get inside the consumer's head and learn what drives them to interact the way they do. While every other component may be essential to building a well-developed campaign, recognizing why consumers exude particular behaviors serves as the foundation for well-informed decisions and successful advertisements.

"Understanding what consumers are thinking and feeling about a brand and its category allows marketers and advertisers to craft strategies and messaging that are relevant to them," says Caroline Roe, director, quantitative research at Insights in Marketing. The greater relevance a brand and its messaging are felt by the target consumer, the more likely they are to consider it. Getting into consumers' heads through a variety of research tools is a priority in order to allow marketers to craft increasingly compelling advertising."

and How

During the 2012 holiday season, Creative Labs, Inc. made moves to drive site traffic, shorten the buying cycle, and increase online sales using a data-driven integrated marketing platform that would enable them to drive revenue and increase conversions. Partnering with SteelHouse, Creative Labs implemented its Slingshot technology, which allowed the brand to run two separate holiday email campaigns-one promotional Black Friday offer and one non-promotional holiday message. Through re-targeting and segmentation, Creative Labs was able to spread brand awareness across multiple channels to support its marketing campaigns, as real-time offers complemented offsite ads to boost online sales.

Through personality driven technology, Creative Labs was able to act upon data in real time, thereby identifying precisely which shopper segments would be the most successful target in order to disseminate relevant campaigns to the consumer immediately. By reengaging shoppers who left the site and motivating them to return with real-time offers, Creative Labs' average order value increased by 27 percent and overall revenue per visitor grew 332 percent over the previous holiday season. The Black Friday promotion, in particular, resulted in a 158 percent boost in conversions, thus reinforcing the power behind data-driven advertising campaigns and their positive impact on the bottom line.