Editorial: Events offer opportunity to gather actionable data

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While the recent Red Sox-Yankees series results were depressing for me and other Sox fans, it did give me an excuse to check out the newly built Yankee Stadium for the first time. In addition to being stunned by the skyline views from the new field, I was struck by how much has changed when it comes to sponsorships during the ol' ballgame. And these changes highlight how much direct marketing is driving all ad partnerships taking place today.

Most of us will admit that in addition to witnessing some stunning athleticism and tracking favorite players' stats firsthand, we come to the ball field for hot dogs, beer and the hope of being caught on the Jumbotron dancing to YMCA. Usually, there are some modest logos in the corner of the Jumbotron screen and sponsor banners that plaster the outfield, and maybe a sponsored seat upgrade or giveaway. But at my most recent game, digital out-of-home and mobile marketing had truly arrived. The quintessential t-shirt giveaway has given way to something much more interactive and personal than catching a prize from a cannon: Text-in quizzes and voting, pre-registration online for seating upgrade giveaways and one-to-one video interviews with brand representatives. Everything was high-touch, highly personal — and, most importantly, capturing actual data.

Instead of just the feel-good vibe it gets off being the tax adjuster for the Yankees, H&R Block is able to turn up X cell phone numbers of people at the game who knew Jeter's homerun record. What does that mean for its marketing department? Maybe nothing. But they are at least testing opt-ins and mobile app downloads and seeing how to turn that list into leads. It may also mean that they are discovering how many of their preexisting client base was at the Yankees game.

The demand for personal data collection is huge: Anyone who isn't turning a list over to their CMO after every event and every media buy has a lot of explaining to do. Yet the market for the data that is already available is at a standstill — external list prices took a huge dive during the early part of the year, in some cases as deep as 20%. This was due to a slowdown in acquisition for sure, but arguably also because internal and Web data collection are now en vogue.

As marketers gain more abilities to collect and enhance their own lists through affiliate marketing, events or viral marketing campaigns, the next challenge will be to ensure these internal lists are actionable. How many of your new lead-acquisition programs are becoming one more variable in a series of algorithms? And how many are leading to grand-slam retention campaigns?

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