What does the average American do for 11 hours a day? Exactly what you’re doing right now: interacting with some form of media. Reading articles, watching TV or online videos, listening to podcasts and radio, scanning social posts, and much more. Most of us spend our day (for business and pleasure) engrossed in media.
The interesting thing for suppliers and retailers is the data behind the media. As consumers move through their daily lives, they are creating a long trail of data behind them, including their purchase habits and media consumption.
Organizing and analyzing all of that data has been a focus of IRI for almost forty years. To understand how this big data works today to target consumers via media, we visited with Michael Ellgass, IRI’s Executive Vice President of Technology and Retail Media Platforms. Michael explained how far we’ve come in gathering and using new data sources to make better business decisions.
Yesterday’s Data Profile vs. Today’s Data Personalization
The team at IRI brings a vast background in targeting and data analysis to help their clients reach the right consumers. Michael began our conversation by reminiscing about the industry’s early approach to targeting.
“When I started my career, it was really about making TV commercials,” he explains. “Our idea of targeting was age and gender, if you can imagine using that type of approach! Those were the channels we had to work with.
“Now, when I think about what I would want to know to be able to make an ad for somebody, I’d want to know what’s in your shopping basket. I’d want to see what you’re purchasing. That will tell me a lot more about you than your age and gender.”
This type of consumer purchase data, which also includes information from frequent shopper/loyalty cards, is being used today to power more relevant messages. In one simple example, if a retailer knows that a consumer regularly buys dog food, they will know to not send that consumer coupons for cat food.
There is also extensive media data available, which includes mobile, social, digital and TV consumption, as well as a slew of other data sources that, when integrated and aligned, help companies get much smarter about who to target, with what, and when.
What Is New Media?
New media is essentially any media that ensures your message connects with the right consumers and drives sales. For example, you can serve up a digital dog food ad to that consumer that buys dog food, as well as other consumers that buy the category, in the places where they already are online. But, as Michael explains, new media is about much more than targeting.
“Most new media is going to be addressable and accountable,” Michael illustrates. “That means you’re going to have an understanding of the profile of the consumer. You’re also going to have the opportunity to measure whether that consumer did anything different at the register or not. Those are the tools that we’re building at IRI; the ability to be more relevant by getting to the right customer. Then, being able to connect your media exposures back to who saw them and whether they purchased or not.”
Consumers Give Retailers Data with Every Purchase
The big winner in the age of new media is the retailer. Getting more specific data on a consumer happens with each and every register transaction. With so much information now available, Michael illustrated why it’s critical for retailers to unlock the data that’s already at their fingertips – their own and other data available in the market. He also detailed how this extensive new data helps retailers move from having a simple profile of their consumers to true consumer personalization.
“The retailer is going to benefit the most because they are sitting on a goldmine of information,” he begins. “If you were to look at my shopping basket, think of what you would know about me. You’d know I have preferences for organics. I have kids and a dog. You’d know a lot more about me than you could through many other ways of looking at my behavior. All this from just seeing what I’ve bought in a couple of trips to Walmart. Unlocking that data is a huge opportunity for retailers.”
Making the Move from Profile to Personalization
Taking a more personalized approach to data collection and analysis is a must to ensure that media campaigns drive improved sales results. Michael concluded our conversation by describing how IRI helps suppliers accomplish this and the benefits they see.
“It’s really about having a system in place that can track the behavior of your customer in a way that allows you to serve them better,” he explains. “Our technology platform (IRI Liquid Data®) takes transaction-level data and connects it back to everything else you’re doing, such as the assortment in the store, how the products are priced, and whether you have the right things on the shelf.
“Once that’s in place, you can activate against the right customer segments to talk about what’s new in the store, help recommend things they might like to put in their basket next time. That is the system you need to really be effective to personalize the store.”
(To hear our extended interview with Michael Ellgass, click here for the 8th & Walton Conference Call podcast.)