Data Handling & Visualization Challenges Marketers

MASB Summer Summit 2015

The new wealth of available market information – including social media data – comes with significant challenges, according to participants in the Marketer Panel at MASB’s Summer Summit, moderated by Jamie Richardson of Kimberly-Clark.

“Right now a lot of the data is disconnected,” commented Pam Forbus of PepsiCo. “As Dan Ariely says, ‘consumers are highly irrational but very predictable.’ If you just watch shopping behavior, for example, you will see clusters of highly predictable patterns.  In data blind situations, we are developing new capabilities in connected data through mobile technology to illuminate what’s going on. Our hope is that we can take this capability to emerging markets and have an advantage.”

Kimberly-Clark's Jamie Richardson leads the discussion in Chicago.
Kimberly-Clark’s Jamie Richardson leads the discussion in Chicago.

“We don’t have access to internal metrics,” related Kelly Johnson of ESPN. “We’re relying on the Nielsens and the comScores of the world to be able to measure the way that people are consuming media – and they’re not keeping up. There are all kinds of metrics flying around that are either good or bad or proprietary. We’re being held to a standard that we can’t keep up to because we can’t possibly ensure that every single one of these metrics is being performed on.”

According to Kerry Welsh of Citi, her marketing team has a different metrics issue. “Where we really struggle from the metrics perspective is having what we term ‘passive-phase metrics’ versus ‘active-phase metrics.’ Our business partners would very much like us to focus only on active-phase, but we know those passive-phase metrics are extremely important as well. The balance between those is something we’re continuing to evolve our thinking on.”

Immediate data visualization can be very useful for marketers, as explained by Karen Ebben of General Motors.

“Often people think of visualization as something you do after the fact – you run through all the data, complete the analysis and then make it pretty. In fact, we find it has other values. First of all, by being able to marry internal data with external data, and seeing the visual relationship between the two, it can act as a ‘rapid prototype’ tool useful in interacting with your audience. It can help establish credibility and transparency with analytic output by visually confirming or refuting relationships the audience may have as mental models. It can also lead to new discovery and expedite the analytic process, since visualization helps the analyst understand both what to ignore and where to investigate further.”

“We’re taking a very deep dive into best practices for measuring digital media contribution to brand sales,” explained Kevin Richardson of The Nielsen Company. “We’re looking at the impact of data granularity and of analytic technique ranging from broad scale marketing mix modeling to A/B testing to multi-touch attribution with single source data. We want to determine the combination of data and analytic approach that provides the most accurate measure of digital media effectiveness and how to leverage that insight to make better decisions.”