Panel Discussion, Taken from our Ascot CMO Event, October 12th 2017
Prosper Williams, Visiting Professor, CASS Business School (Moderator)
Bea Montoya, Marketing Channels Director, Simply Business
Rav Roberts, Global Head of Digital Governance & Compliance, Diageo
Richard Levy, Marketing Director, Moneygram
Richard Levy, Marketing Director, Moneygram-
I started working about 20 years ago in a marketing departing and we probably didn’t have huge amounts of data. Forward the clock to today and we now have huge amounts of data and I think the ongoing challenge for us and the industry is asking ‘what are you going to do with the data?’
I can pull up anything I want on numbers and facts, but it’s a bit like people start discovering podcasts and you suddenly download hundreds of them and then wonder where to start. So what we are trying to do is be very specific with not just what data we need but what are we going to do with it. What business impact is that having that going to give us?
If you don’t have your fundamentals in place, none of this will matter. So that’s another case for us of trying to understand the data side of it. For example, at a previous employer we had all the data we needed on things like our call centre, but the data you need can change from the number of calls you make in an hour to the number of queries you deal with in the same time. So we are trying to understand a lot of the use for the data.
On the subject of the transformation to digital, I’m keen to say to our business that sometimes things are moving quickly, but not as quickly as we think they are. And we have to take ourselves out of the equation and realise that in many cases we are not the customer and if we are, we are not representative of the customer.
So it may be that we are doing approx. 80% of our life digitally, but that is irrelevant. It’s about what our customer base is doing. So we are going on the digital journey, but we have to keep the customer at the heart of it and realise that people want different things. We are just trying to go along at a pace that is right for us.
Bea Montoya, Marketing Channels Director, Simply Business-
So for us, data has been very much at the heart of our organisation since the moment we were born. It’s not necessarily a transformation journey, it’s much more how we’ve been able to take such a market share in such a short period of time.
And the way we work is that we have a data team of engineers that can automate things for us, but we also have a data team of analysts that are completely embedded within every single team. So I have analysts that work closely with me and that help us take that data, put it into insights and then have actions and ideas on how we are going to use it and what we are going to do with it.
These past few months have been fascinating because I’ve been lucky enough to have a data scientist working very closely with me and my team and together through that collaboration, we’ve been able to change how our marketing attribution model which is now under AI power, we’ve changed our lead scoring which has driven very tangible business results and it takes the work of the scientist and my team to put that together.
For me, there has to be a culture of cooperation and collaboration, data has to be accessible and understandable for everyone, but equally I’m hiring people within my team that can understand that data and can talk that data language as well.
Rav Roberts, Global Head of Digital Governance & Compliance, Diageo-
At Diageo, certainly we want to be world class in our responsible use of data. Twenty years ago, I was working in San Francisco and back then we had the duel challenges of Y2K preparation and the beginnings of digital. And I remember that the big problem then was that suddenly marketers could see that ads were not actually being viewed. For the first time we had that insight and data to prove that people were avoiding banner ads on the internet.
Of course now we are being overloaded with data and technology, certainly in the marketing landscape. So Diageo is being very careful in the type of partners that it uses globally. I work very closely with marketing, IT and information security people and our digital centre of excellence to make sure our whole marketing ecosystem is fit for purpose, not just now but in the future.
And part of that is getting the right people. Talent, not just at Diageo but with our partners and different agencies and technology providers, they are all part of that equation for marketing and data excellence and digital transformation.
A friend of mine was waiting for a flight and got a text message telling him where he was in relation to the gate and how long he had to check in which is he thought was this simplistic but fantastic thing. Likewise if I am travelling abroad and can get adverts for taxi firms near me offering me estimated prices to my hotel, this can be very valuable information to me and proper targeting the right person at the right time based on intelligence.
And that’s where I think we are all trying to get to because my own personal theory is that I don’t think people mind giving data and personal information if you are going to use it to help them. The challenge comes when it doesn’t really help them.
So we all have examples where we’ve gone online and buy say a kettle and then for the next two weeks you keep getting adverts for other kettles. That’s where it starts going fundamentally wrong aside from data leakage or data falling into the wrong hands. I think the reason don’t are reluctant to give data is because they don’t see how it is relevantly used.
In my own business, we get a lot of data about why people send money and as a an example, someone sends money twice a year to their mother in another country. If I can get that data and say ‘we know you are sending money to India. Just so you know, the Rupee rate is at its highest now for six months. This may be a good time to send’, in my opinion that’s pretty valuable information that person may wanna use. So it’s about employing intelligence behind the data rather than just overloading people.
I think as marketing has always been a science as it is more data driven and what we are seeing is talent need is changing. And I think you can do two things; you can bring people on a journey with you internally but I think you need to educate people. Most people fundamentally wanna do their job well and most people want the tools to do their job well. And if you can bring people in and show examples of the data we use then I find most people are coming with you.
In respect of bringing people in externally, in some ways it’s never been more challenging, but there are some very good people out there. I think where marketing struggles as an industry is that marketing needs to move away from the tactical side and move towards the strategic side and actually data can help you do that.
When I am looking to recruit, I’m looking much more for people who can understand the strategy, data and numbers side of marketing more than the technical side that I think we have become a little bit obsessed by as an industry.
What’s interesting for me is that we are applying very much a BML approach to everything we do. So I agree that there is a lot out there and a lot of places that you can try to conquer at the same time, but in my experience, that doesn’t get you very far because you can get completely bogged down and not be able to achieve what you need to.
So the way we do it at Simply Business is that we talk to our customers constantly, we are picking a customer problem and say ‘what is the MVP that we can have here to start to tackle this problem?’ We don’t try to look at every channel at the same time or at every data source. We go as small as we can, we prove that it is important and makes a difference, or we learn that it isn’t and we iterate from that and start to add additional channels and data points.
We have just started that journey and I would be surprised if there was anyone who has been able to complete the journey, deliver those really meaningful experiences that we all want to deliver that engage and that matter to customers across every available channel. I think we will get there, but there is a lot of learning that needs to happen.
Our product development sometimes is driven by data, so we collect data as to what customers want. Sometimes it is driven by talking to customers and understanding what the problems are and that is our basis for product development.
Interestingly, we are not a direct consumer company, so what does it mean to us? So we look at the business outcomes that we are looking to achieve and there are two things; mental and physical availability. As marketers we are looking at mental availability and that means we want our products to be top of mind, on trade in bars, clubs etc. and off trade in supermarkets.
So what we are doing is we are getting that data in, whether it’s social or intelligence, whether it’s sales data, brand equity scores, media spend etc. and we are distilling that and getting real time insights into the correlation between what’s happening with media spend, brand equity and sales and how that’s changing as a campaign is rolled out.
So we start with the business outcomes that we are looking to achieve and then looking at what data we can get in from our partners and internally achieve our outcomes.
We don’t target all consumers. We are responsible marketers and we lead the industry in responsible marketing. What I mean by that is our CEO was recently made the Chair of the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking. They have digital guiding principles that 11 top producers not just have to follow, but we look to lead the world in making others follow and setting the industry standards across all marketing channels.
So placing the consumer at the heart of what we do means responsible marketing. It means that we respect their data privacy, so anything we do in marketing globally, not just in the EU, has to have a Privacy Impact Assessment which is approved by the local lawyer, or if it’s global, our global legal team and by myself.
We have to adhere to the standards of legal purchase aids compliance across the different markets. So there’s 21 in the USA, 18 in the UK and Ireland etc. We have to make sure that we adhere to the standards of the channel that we are in. For example, in the UK and Ireland 75% are over legal purchase aids, 71.6% in the USA.
All of those are done automatically and we only work with partners in what we call our Trusted Marketplace that are able to do that. So as well as GDPR or legal purchase aids compliance, we are talking about brand safety, ad viewability and all those sorts of measures that we are looking for.
I think we all have that responsibility to protect customers and protect data. At Simply Business, we are very careful to use data for what is right for the customer which in turn will have a commercial benefit for us and we certainly wouldn’t share data.
If I can just bring in the taboo subject of GDPR, I personally feel that it is not necessarily a very customer friendly legislation and for me everyday I’m getting a new email from a different brand telling me ‘here’s a preference centre that you can go and manage’. So all of a sudden I have a new full time job; I work for simply business, I’m a mother of two and I’m a professional data manager because I need to work out what my data should be doing in every single brand.
So I think the sad thing about the legislation is that it is not going to stop the bad guys, the bad guys will continue doing the wrong things and the good guys like us are going to have to do a lot of work to adhere to a legislation that is probably not going to have much of an impact for customers, because we’ll continue doing what is right for them, which in turn will help them engage with, like and advocate our brand in the future.
Well I can relate to your comments on GDPR. We are an extremely compliant organisation and our compliance department is the largest area across our business by a long way. I think the regulation isn’t particularly new; when I was at GE, I remember that the regulation was that the APR had to be x amount times bigger than anything else in the advert and actually it became impossible to explain what you were trying to promote.
We work with brands such as Walmart in the USA and the Post Office in the UK and what’s essential for us from a data point of view is that you work with brands that equally uphold the need for the customer experience and the stability and brand protection that they give.
In respect to the new regulation, I think it’s added a little complexity to our roles and at some level we are just going to have to try and implement it as best we can.
For Diageo, our performance ambitions is to be the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer goods company in the world. That’s what we stand for. The Information Commissioner said ‘trust should be a competitive advantage,’ and that’s what we see in Diageo, but it’s not easy.
We process a lot of data and luckily I’m only looking at the consumer and customer data. I’m not looking at employee data, but that is probably the toughest aspect if you consider the type of employee records that all companies hold.
For us, we work very closely in the Centre of Excellence with marketing, IT and HR and I think there is work to do. The challenge is the legislation at the moment isn’t as developed as it could be, so the EU certainly has to clarify cookie law with 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data.
The advantage we have in Diageo is that we are a UK company and the UK has always been pretty much the strongest in terms of data protection which has been in the UK for at least 20 years, so I’d say we are probably as a country more prepared for GDPR than anyone else globally.
I think it’s very early stages but I am pretty sure at AI going to enable us to do that. At Simply Business, one of the key examples for us is we are driving segmentation through AI and we still haven’t driven the messages that we write following that segmentation via AI, but that is next on our list.
Our customers are really varied as we cater to small businesses, so we have IT consultants, builders, photographers etc. and the feedback we get from them is that they feel lonely and they don’t know everything they are meant to know on being an expert in business or GDPR etc.
So what we try to do is we try to help them in that journey and we provide them with content that is relevant to them. At the moment we can segment to a certain point, but I see the future as one where we can drive proper one-to-one communications with those customers and we can give them help with that content that is properly useful for them and they can’t get on their own without help from others.
We are using a lot of signals and collect an enormous amount of data from our customers as well as getting data externally in some cases that helps us enhance the view of customers. We also collect an enormous of data on how customers behave because we have an event driven structure across everything we do.
So we take all of this information to be able to A) predict how customers are going to behave and B) group customers into certain groups that then allow us to talk to them differently. Obviously the algorithm keeps learning and the results therefore are improving all the time and that’s very much part of what we are doing today.
I think it’s the beginning of a journey. I look around and see some companies using it really cleverly like Spotify or Netflix for example. For us, I think we are just beginning to look at the customer profile whether that touch point may be and I think that’s a really interesting journey we are on, because the journey starts well before the customer touch point to some extent and can go on well after that with the need to get in contact with you post-sale.
I think we are trying to look at it from a multi-channel point of view of how does the customer interact with us. I think with AI, I echo the point that if you go back to the fundamentals of marketing and the segmentation, I think the more education you can do towards that and the more intelligence you can get the better.
I would say one point that all the technology in the world is great, but it doesn’t take away from the personal responsibility to get out there, know your customers, see them in action and bring the pieces together and I don’t want AI to completely replace that, because you learn much more from sitting in a focus group for two hours than you do looking at spreadsheets for two months.
I’m really lucky to work in an organisation that really believes in this and we want to be pioneering in the area of data, but we always apply a BML approach to things. So we are not going to go out and hire an army of people or invest millions in one specific technology. We have started small and we have been able to prove the business value and that has enabled us to carry on really.
We started with one person and a few tests and ideas. Now we are expanding the teams and working to a much greater scale. So that would be my advice; don’t go all in, start small, prove your case and then it’s easier to convince the people that control the money to give you more.
Our marketing execution is that the budgets are owned by the brand managers and the marketing directors for each of the brands. We own the budgets for the central marketing capability and future capabilities. Everything needs to go through the normal return on investment business case which is a pretty waterfall process, but we are reviewing our current process based on my old development methodology to try and make it more agile.
However, it’s not just technology, it’s finance, procurement, IT, information security etc. All those organisations and departments need to be brought along for the journey and it’s not something that is going to happen overnight.
Another challenge is that if it’s return on investment, then we need to see results, so everyone needs to perform. However, we are told we need to fail and embrace failure which is kind of against our culture at the moment. I don’t know if that’s a British thing or a global thing but that’s one of the challenges we have, because embracing failure essentially means wasting money and having some budget set aside to be able to do that.
So we are looking to experiment on a small scale where we can afford to but very much the big bets we make have proper business cases behind them.
I’ve worked for some pretty big companies and Moneygram is small in comparison and therefore it’s slightly easier to bring people along because the culture isn’t quite as embedded as bigger companies. Marketing has a responsibility to bring people along though.
I think one of the key attributes of a marketing leader is not just to be technically good at marketing. The big challenge is bringing departments with you whether it’s procurement, finance, IT, legal etc.There are so many departments now that need to be on the same page and if you can get that right, you will be destined for good things.
The way we try to encourage it is that we look at it in two different ways; what does the business need to do and what does the customer need? The reality is though is that they don’t always overlap. It may be that the customer wants is not what the business can or wants to deliver or vice versa.
So what we try and do is say that if anything doesn’t overlap, then we don’t do it. The sweet spot is where those two do overlap, so you can then go to your CFO or CEO and say this is what we are doing and this is the business purpose it meets and then go to your marketing team and say this is why the customer wants it. If those two can meet, then I think you are going to get a lot of support within the business.
For me, it’s all about the people and I don’t just mean in the organisation but the partners that we work with. So two of our core values are passion and freedom and that’s what we look at in all the people that we either hire as full time employees or contractors, or the partners that we work with.
Of course they need the skills but they also need to have fantastic communication skills and be collaborative across the whole organisation so we can work with them like partners.
Make the data insightful. Don’t just give me data for the sake of it and say ‘this is the data, this is what it’s telling us, this is what we will do as a result of it and this is the consumer need it meets.’ If you can tick those four boxes, it will be incredibly valuable, but if only ticks three, it’s not doing what you need it to do.
For me it’s also all about the people. We’ve been voted best company to work for two years in a row, we are now a benefits corporation which means we are not only about driving profits for our shareholders, but also about improving the lives of our employees, customers, society and the environment.
And I think that drives a tremendous amount of motivation and it means that we can hire the talent that we need to navigate in a very complex world, particularly when that talent when it comes to data is very in demand, but also we can drive that collaboration and cooperation piece.
So if I had to open my own business tomorrow, that would be the one thing I would focus on most to start with.
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