Acxiom: Data is the new black

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I just got back from the premier event of an Acxiom speaking series. This first session, held in NYC, was entitled "Data is the new black for interactive marketers," and it highlighted some key facts about today's customers and how to market to them.

Two speakers took the stage today: Dave Frankland, an analyst at Forrester, and Tim Suther, SVP of Acxiom's digital marketing services. Frankland started out with an extensive overview of "marketing today," focusing partiuclarly on the concept that consumers DO NOT like advertising. At all. He added that, on top of this obstacle, marketers also have to navigate continued audience fragmentation and new channels, behaviors and and devices that are constantly developing.

That's where data comes in: "customer intelligence" drives customer-centricity, which makes your customers happy and serves them better. Part of having useful data lies in clear definitions of what a firm is measuring and how and why. Customer profitability and lifetime value need to be measured more, he added, and predictive analytics and segmentation will be hugely important for the true customer-centric company.

When Suther took the stage, he reiterated Frankland's point about customer feelings on advertising, with a few statistics to back him up: Research last year indicated that $112 billion in advertising is wasted every year in the US, and only 22% of americans trust advertising, according to Edelman.

"The folks at Procter and Gamble say the consumer is boss," he said. "She is, and she is firing most of your advertising."

What to do? Suther recommended thinking more about the "who" in your advertising - think about the full customer value before you decide how much to invest in your media buys. Then concetrate on those high value customers and invest proportionally. Learn to recognize them at different touchpoints, and engage them accordingly, based on their value. Of course, all of this strategy is based on in-depth customer data.

And this data must be used over time, Suther added. "Institutional memory" -- tracking consumer behavior, wants, needs and motivations, what they do outside of your company and across channels, and what you can infer from that -- is also essential in the new data game.

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