Data can maximise advertising ROI and help brands futureproof themselves. But data alone is not enough – it takes purpose, diversity, and the human factor to get the best results. Here’s how we let data tell the story.
By Dalene Muller
Adspace24 has an abundance of internal and external data to draw from, but how do we get from data to actionable insights and solutions to our clients’ – and our own – challenges?
Beginning with purpose
To make sense of the data, we need to have a clear intention. We begin with an understanding of our client’s needs and wants (the sales team plays a critical role here). The client’s needs can range from something small – “This is my audience, this is who I need to target, which titles in print and digital will find me in that space?” – to something big, which could involve mapping across our titles based on store locations, adspend analysis and additional research. Once we identify the client’s needs, we decide on what data and stories we need to tell, and what resources we should use to bring together a solution.
Diversity of data
It’s important to have access to a wide range of resources, both internal and external. Arguably, the more sources, the better – within the bounds of cost-efficiency. Obviously, the sources we choose need to add value.
At Adspace24, our data sources include demographic, geographic and behavioural data, which enables us to target every relevant person within our digital and print. With Forum24, our inhouse research platform for bespoke local title research and any custom-made research data needed for our client through Promo24; as well as w also draw on various external sources, sites for a global perspective such as IAB, INMAR and Statistica, to make sure we are on par. While South Africa is very different from say, Switzerland, there are always similarities – and different perspectives to be gained.
At present, trust is at a premium throughout our industry – and this of course, extends to research. We always have to benchmark against others; Having a diversity of sources with which to compare and contrast findings is a way of cross-checking ourselves.
That said, while in the past there was a lot of circumspection about media owners doing
their own research and data analysis, technology has mostly erased this: the efficacy of research can be proven.
The human element
While data drives all our decisions, it’s important that the human element stays within, informing what we do with it, checking for anomalies and ensuring that there’s an internal logic, because the data can lead you astray. If anything looks odd – why? Where is this coming from?
A diversity of voices
Our “Insights Club” is where we identify new projects and research that will deliver new data and actionable insights. For example, at the moment we're busy investigating Gen Z within focus groups, and specific aspects of ROI in combination digital and print.
For this, it’s important to have a diversity of voices in the room. You can only really make informed decisions when you start listening to everybody, not just the analysts – because we can become data-heavy. Diversity brings you completely different perspectives, which is why we opened up the Insights Club to anybody from the company who wants to take part.
Telling the story
It's all about storytelling. If you’re just pushing figures, you'll lose your audience in slide one. How we do this varies on a case-by-case basis: We begin with the query, decipher it and then look to identify those “golden nuggets”, the insights that will be really valuable.
We always give the salesperson more than they need; the intention then is for them to sift through this with us and decide what is – and isn’t – valuable to their client.
When presenting, we try to keep things as simple as possible, with fewer numbers and more pictures, and lots of context. Without context, data can be quite meaningless.
It helps to present things graphically – once the client can grasp something visually, it’s much easier for them to make informed decisions. For example, given a store location, we can create a heat map, graphically determine exactly which print or digital platforms are available, and then overlay all the sets that we have access to – so, behavioural and demographic data, along with insights. This provides depth, and builds a robust case to present to clients.
A step ahead
In essence, our purpose is to identify what's coming – to spot opportunities and challenges ahead of time. We listen to what's happening in the sales environment, our clients’ concerns, along with everything that is taking place economically, environmentally and globally, and then bring everything together to deduce the outcome. Smart data tells a story – and that helps us, and our clients, stay one step ahead.