Radhika Joshi
Nov 22, 2011

Opinion: The new nirvana of numbers in the digital age

‘Digital’ is a big word these days which is used like a drunk uses a lamp-post; for support rather than light

Opinion: The new nirvana of numbers in the digital age

‘Digital’ is a big word these days which is used like a drunk uses a lamp-post; for support rather than light*. That’s because we are beginning to understand that it’s a medium created by technology. And because it’s new, there is a tendency to force-fit conventional processes to create advertising in this new medium. 

One way to nirvana is through numbers.  
Try this question first – how many people in the agency interact with the CIO or others in the client’s  IT (that’s Information Technology folks)? The reason they should meet and make friends with them is they are the keepers of a huge cache of data and information. (For the sake of simplicity in this Opinion piece I am using them interchangeably). 
Hold that thought for a second.
In whichever shape or form you understand Digital; you can sharpen the creative pencil with numbers. Yes, numbers. Make numbers your friends; access them; play with them;  make patterns; mine them; dig them. Numbers – till your mind gets number! The simple reason is they are available, or can be made available because – going back to our earlier thought – the CIO and his gang have them!
Let’s take a few examples.
Everyone knows POS (Ah yes. Posters, Danglers etc.) now let’s extend it to the computer and the associated software which lurks at nearly all retail checkouts. Here is a fount of data. Every transaction is captured. POS data can tell you what and how much was sold, at what price, what stock is left, etc. And all this is centralized at the clients’. There’s also a deluge of data available from the ERP systems. Together they are a treasure trove. (There’s lots of sources – let’s just look at the simplest ones first)
Assume you have an apparel client. With access to this data you can figure out which style’s stock is building up (it’s not selling) and has not sold for x days. Further you can figure out which shops (and therefore which areas) this style isn’t selling in; so you can persuade your client to run a small promotion to get rid of this stock before the end of season sale. Now, you’re using data and you are helping your client and you’re creating billing for your agency. 
Again, this data source can tell you what customer shopping baskets look like and you can figure out which other product customers are likely to purchase and create another  cross-sell/up-sell promotion. More billing!
These targeted promos will yield results which can be measured by sales; continue the successful; drop the unsuccessful ones. Create value for your client, yourself; and your customer.
From this source you can also get information on which styles, which colours, which sizes are selling more than the others. Feature them in the ads; or feature those which are not selling to attract other customers. This is targeted communication!
Loyalty Cards – another rich vein of data. Do Loyalty Card members behave differently? The best way is to find out. The data is there. Use this to create targeted SMS and mail campaigns (since Loyalty Cards have customer addresses, phone numbers etc.).
Customers telling you what they do. Amazon uses this technique all the time. Why can’t you?  Research after research has shown customers respond better to targeted messages. 
Mutual Funds also offer a huge opportunity. All customers do not behave in the same way. Some buy only debt funds; some buy equity; some prefer floaters; some buy higher risk equities; some buy only large caps. There is an immeasurably large amount of captured data available. So you can target specific funds to specific customers. Why waste a high risk offer on a customer who has low risk appetite. Sound logical? Try it?
Banks, similarly sit on a mountain of data. How much is leveraged?
The number of opportunities can leave you breathless. 
Yet all we have achieved till now are fairly poorly executed campaigns which have not attracted custom. Because they are only substituting for conventional broadcast media. 
Think about it. You want into the digital opportunity; but unless you have the magic passwords that numbers give you; you’re going to stand for a long time outside Aladdin’s cave.

Rajesh Pant is the director of Kandor Solutions.

(*Andrew Lang - but most often ascribed to David Ogilvy - because all of us have read his book)

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