Fast 5 with Liam Watts, Executive Manager – Media Partnerships at Quantium

This month’s fast 5 interview with Quantiums’s Executive Manager -Media Partnerships, Liam Watts dives into his tips on how to increase the effectiveness of campaigns when using data and the power of having a clear objective.

How have you seen the use of data change over the past 5 years for brands and in the media space?

Not long ago, the biggest ‘competitor’ to the smart use of data in media was brands only wanting to buy MGB 25-55. True data-driven marketers had to educate the market on the best way to use data and evolve beyond using traditional demographics to define audiences. The industry then boomed and retrospectively was running before it could walk. Brands moved from talking to a single broad demo to creating multiple niche audiences and creatives. P&G’s Mark Pritchard summed it up best with “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow.”

Marketers have since evolved their data strategies and overall are using data more effectively, focussing on larger audiences such as category buyers, which is where you see the highest marginal benefit. The focus now has moved from ‘why should I use data?’ to ‘what are my objectives and which data is going to give me the best results?’ Data quality, source and ethics are now the key questions marketers are grappling with.

What are some of the trends identified over Covid as evidenced by changes in people’s buying behaviour?

Harnessing aggregated and anonymised transaction data we have been able to understand the sector by sector impact of Covid in almost real time. Metrics that were previously measured quarterly or annually were now changing significantly on a weekly basis. For some clients operating in high frequency categories we were even looking at daily data. We saw three main phases of spending behaviour during Covid; the snap lockdown, living under restrictions and now the cautious reopening. In the first phase almost all sectors were down except for supermarkets. In the second, consumers spent their money where they could, for example moving their café and recreation spending into home, hardware, and electronics. Now we are seeing most categories back to (or even above) pre-covid levels

What behaviours are reverting back, and which are here to stay?

We have seen the initial Covid boom categories of supermarkets, home, hardware, and electronics return to pre-Covid baselines as consumers have more places to spend their money. The two main trends that seem here to stay are the step-change in online retail and our love of meal delivery. While the bulk of purchase of retail, meal prep/ grocery products remains in store both categories grew significantly versus pre-Covid levels and they don’t seem to be reverting back any time soon. The next stage of the recovery is going to be the gradual opening of international travel and how this impacts our domestic spending.

Knowing the wealth of data that marketers have at their fingertips, what should we be looking for when using data to increase the effectiveness of our campaigns?

With the proliferation of data across all industries it is important to come back to basics; what is my objective? which data is best placed to help me achieve it? has its use improved the outcome of my campaign?

Ideally, we should be using the same data sets across this process. For example, if our objective is to increase category share, we need to define our audience based on people that buy our category and measuring our sales results against this audience. Using a standardised data set keeps us honest by ensuring success is measured in the same language as the original business objective.

What’s in store for the future when it comes to targeting audiences through behavioural data?

Behavioural data is now table stakes for all media players, with advertisers demanding the ability to speak to behavioural audiences in the majority of their campaigns. At the same time expectation are rising for media owners to use the same data when providing a measurement for campaigns.

There are many and varied data sets in the market informing campaign planning and performance. The use of data itself is no guarantee of success. Rather it is the quality, robustness and use of behavioural data over-claimed and demographic-based data that is becoming a significant driver of effectiveness.

Finally, as consumers are taking more control of their data the quantity of data sets available for targeting is decreasing. This will see the continued rise in the use of 1st and 2nd party data as data owners get smarter about how they commercialise their assets in ways that make sense for them and their customers.