Spending on ads no longer has to be virtual ‘black hole’

The industry must hire more ‘geeks’ to build customer profiles faster, says Mindshare


Someone is making transactions on your credit card account. They are spending money, and you’re not getting the benefit. A month later, your card provider sends you a security alert in the form of a Powerpoint deck, with a slide instructing you to call them immediately regarding activity your account.

This is not any card provider’s official practice, but an analogy used by Mindshare Worldwide chief technology officer Steve Plimsoll to describe the traditionally after-the-fact process of media campaign feedback – a Powerpoint presentation after all the money has been spent.

Marketing directors might put about 80 per cent of their budgets into buying media space, yet know very little about campaign efficacy, he says. “Historically, media has been not quite a black hole, but very close to it.”

But in the new “big data” era, this is changing. Recent data-rich Mindshare projects include its tracking of NHS and Google flu data (the latter based on search term trends) so it could adjust its media plan for Kleenex by location.

It also used cookies to track customers who interacted with Jaguar’s online PR content at the time of its C-X17 SUV car launch, discovering that the “enthusiasts” who consumed PR content were “generally single, younger males”, while the “intenders” who progressed straight to Jaguar websites were older and more likely to be female.

Plimsoll says the WPP-owned Mindshare is now talking to global fast-moving consumer goods companies (FMCGs) about how they might use customer profile information – gleaned in real-time from responses to digital media campaigns – to tailor their product strategies.

The data challenge need not be “scary” for marketers, Plimsoll says. But companies will still need to embrace more “geeks” and “data purists” in the future. “We are an industry of people who did not like maths in school. We went off and did geography degrees and now data and technology is a large part of our job.”