Data was the focus at #RampUp16, LiveRamp’s annual industry conference for data-driven marketers and AdTech industry leaders. We heard about continued innovation and consolidation in AdTech making data more accessible, and several key trends emerged around how data is being used to influence everything from company culture to how movies are made:
1. Data – Clean, Ubiquitous Data – is Fundamental
It shouldn’t be surprising that, at a conference hosted by LiveRamp, a company committed to data connectivity, the most common theme we heard was the importance and value of data to marketers.
From data hygiene to accessibility to connectivity and measurement, data is the foundation of any good business strategy. Terry Kawaja, of Luma Partners, noted that a majority of the trends we’re seeing in the industry relate to a rush toward Data-as-a-Service strategies. Steven Dubner, #RampUp16 keynote and author of Freakonomics, warned of the tendency many of us have to seek out data that justifies an assumption rather than to remain curious as to the reasons behind the results we see.
Matt Marolda, Chief Analytics Officer of Legendary Pictures, uses data to inform every aspect of a motion picture–starring actors are chosen based on who is performing best on social media in China, scenes are rewritten based on the heartbeat rhythms of test audiences, and targeted audience segments are broken into hundreds of different variables.
2. Focus on talent and culture
Of course, a solid data foundation is only worthwhile if you cultivate a culture that is committed and willing to use it. We heard over and over that the right people and supportive environment are absolutely necessary to success.
Talk of culture was everywhere–from keynote Steven Dubner, who spoke about changing culture through a case study of the many ways a hand-washing campaign at Cedars-Sinai failed before finding success with a petri-dish screen saver, to the panel of AdTech CEOs who said a company’s best path to success when selling into an enterprise is to foster relationships with the company’s change agents.
A focus on employee education and retention are also an integral part of that cultural change. Alexandra Morehouse, CMO of BannerHealth, considers a campaign to educate healthcare providers about effective communication to patients via social media her biggest success. Stefan Tornquist, of eConsultancy, stated that talent conversations often get labeled as “HR STUFF” instead of absolutely necessary for business success.
3. Consolidation is Happening but Innovation is Outpacing IT
It was also evident that industry consolidation is no longer just something people are warning us about. No less than half-a-dozen companies in attendance had recently been acquired, while another dozen executives mentioned recent acquisitions they’d made. And the common reason for consolidation? Not surprisingly, access to data–whether to feed a cross-channel vision or augment an existing strategy–and the blurring lines between MarTech and AdTech were the primary reasons for consolidation.
Despite this consolidation in certain channels, enterprise marketers at #RampUp16 feel little change thanks to emerging companies in mobile. While they are struggling with the number of technologies they have to integrate when building their tech stacks, they are optimistic about improvements to customer service and the speed with which feature development for their favorite technologies is happening. The majority of attendees also continue to feel that choice and a best-of-breed philosophy will remain as the most successful option for technology decisions.
4. Attribution vs. Measurement
Another emerging trend to keep an eye on? Attendees are beginning to make a distinction between attribution and measurement. While often used interchangeably, attribution should only be understood to mean how value is assigned to each activity in relation to a sale/reservation/sign-up (or whatever your company views as a success).
Measurement, however, is the broader availability of results data for every piece of creative, campaign, program or event that a marketer runs. In the rush to focus on attribution, much of the potentially measurable data is ignored. If, as one attendee suggested, you instead focus on making incremental changes, based on available data, while keeping an eye on the long term vision of attribution, you’ll be more likely to find success.
What did you hear at the conference that got you excited? What made you stop to think? I welcome your thoughts, it will help us as we prepare to make #RampUp17 even better!