Leveraging Big Data for Strategic Communications

As technology evolves, new measuring tools like big data and big data analytics also evolved that completely demystified and transformed …

The application of big data has changed the narrative in measuring the impact of strategic communications on brands and advertising, writes Emma Okonji

Several decades ago, it was difficult to measure the impact of advertising and other strategic communication endeavors due to poor tools available to measure communications impact. For several centuries vague and imprecise relationships were drawn between communication campaigns and the impact they had on the target audiences they were meant to impact.

A successful American merchant, John Wanamaker, whose retail store chain business reached its peak several decades ago, said the problem of measuring the impact of advertising and other strategic communication endeavors remained a mirage.

That was the case because of the poor tools available to measure communications impact. Often in the in the field of marketing, communicators were content with conclusions like, “we advertised last week and sales increased, so it must have worked.” At that time, communicators would always generalise their conclusions with the belief that most advertisements were actually meeting the targeted audience without proof.

Computing tools

But with the emergence of computers and computing technology and strong links to computing tools from computer science, mathematics, statistics and engineering, the narrative changed and these technology tools have continued to play a bigger role in the transmission of messages as well as the measurement of the impact of mass messages and strategic communications. Today, these tools are not only applied in the verification of the impact of communications but also serve as platforms to message design and targeting.

For example, the controversies that trailed the election of President Donald Trump of the United States (US), the allegations leveled against Cambridge Analytical in Brexit and the US elections that brought President Trump to office; the revelations of Edward Snowden and National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programme, brought to light by Wiki leaks, all attest to the fact that the application of the tools of mathematical sciences to strategic communications can cause significant disruptions in politics, social behavior and even consumption patterns.

As technology evolves, new measuring tools like big data and big data analytics also evolved that completely demystified and transformed measurement of key results in advertising and strategic communications. These tools and the data they work with are at the heart of what we have come to describe as big data.

According to American data analytics giant, SAS, “Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundate a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organisations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analysed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.”

Impact of big data

Big data has continued to address the challenges of inaccurate measurement through the use of empirical data, not only confirming what aspect of ad spend is wasted but even determining what should be spent to avoid wastage altogether.

Today, big data has made it possible for communicators and advertisers to personalise and customise marketing communications messaging and even ads to each specific person. With big data analytics, advertisers are able to reach each individual no matter the size of the people. With big data, people can now even customise and personalise website pages depending on who’s viewing them, where they are and when they are viewing these websites. The study of behaviour and understanding customers’ preferences using complex algorithms and therefore design specific messages that meet their personalities and preferences that will increase the success of strategic communications goals, have been made easy through big data analytics.

Adoption

Despite the ease that big data and big data analytics have brought to the advertising industry, a recent research survey conducted by Caritas Communications, a Nigerian public relations firm, revealed that as laudable as the possibilities of big data are, Africa has been slow in adopting the technology.

Big data techniques have been applied to address challenges in communications, media and entertainment globally. Other fields of human endeavours where it has also been applied include: banking and finance, healthcare, education, manufacturing and human resources, government, retail and wholesale trade. These sectors have benefitted immensely from insights generated from big data. But in Africa, however, there has been a slow uptake of big data for a number of reasons. Advancing the reasons based on the inference drawn from the survey report that was conducted by Caritas Communications, its Head, Media and Communications, Mr. Ejiro Obodo, blamed the situation on paucity of data and poor record keeping practices; illiteracy and poor reading culture; low investment in analytical tools and lack of technology infrastructure; preponderance of decision making based on hunches and rule of thumb; lack of adequate investment in data gathering in the public and private sector; inadequate manpower to handle big day problems; and high cost of data and computing, among others.

According to Obodo, “In particular, the monumental skills gap makes it inevitable for small African companies and agencies to go without tailored insights because, where available, they cannot afford to pay a big data expert. The skills gap is so pronounced that in countries like Nigeria and Kenya, job postings for data experts in companies are posted periodically with most of them left unfilled because of the dearth of required skill.”

Public relations companies and indeed others who are interested in strategic communication must bar these limitations as Mr. Wanamaker would have done in the 20th Century, if the technology at our disposal today was available to him,” Obodo said.

Granted that not all strategic communications companies can make the required move to adopt big data and analytics in their operations, those that have the wherewithal to do so, stand the chance of gaining considerably and improving the quality of service delivery their clients enjoy.

“At Caritas, we toe this line as we have made strategic investment in tools that give us some edge. Of particular interest is our investment in a big data tool which uses algorithms to sift through the internet and notify us of hidden stories related to our clients on Twitter, Facebook.com, LinkedIn, blogs, Instagram, news websites among others. But this is not all there is. Big data offers so much more,” Obodo said.

Big data in Africa

Looking at the opportunities of big data for strategic communications, Obodo is of the view that PR companies on the African continent, would stand a chance of benefitting from big data. Citing Ulrike Röttger et al in his book on big data analytics, which explained that “Big data enables strategic communicators to analyse the needs, opinions, attitudes and behaviour of their stakeholders in detail. From the planning to evaluation, big data analyses make corporate communication more analytic and potentially more strategic,” Obodo said PR practitioners, who adopt big data and analytics, equip themselves with broader knowledge base for situation analysis. In this context, big data can be used to analyse things like share-of-voice and company/client activities in a more meaningful and far reaching way. The resulting improvement in market and competition analysis provides insights about the share of one’s online discourse or which company has a greater share-of-voice across several regions.

“Company/client profiling is enhanced by insights generated from big data. Detailed analysis of company-relevant topics and how insights should be applied to ad wording/messaging or which channels should be used to disseminate information or the optimisation of online-touchpoint analysis are all potential uses of big data,” he said, adding that big data provides opportunity to better develop one’s own strategy. It can be used to analyse how, when and most of all where the target group looks for information about a certain group of products or a topic, as well as in which ways it expresses its opinion. Detailed target group analyses of aspects like region and demography are also possible.

The predictions

According to the research report, due to the scarcity of fibre optic network connectivity in Africa, mobile phones are the major means of internet connectivity. The sub-Saharan Africa has a subscriber base of over 444 million, equivalent to about nine per cent of subscribers globally. The regional subscriber base is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.8 per cent for the period 2017–2022, which is more than double the global growth rate over the same period.

The total number of smartphone connections in sub-Saharan Africa stood at 250 million at the end of 2017, equivalent to around a third of the total connections base. From this massive number of devices, enormous quantities of data are generated. For every moment social media is assessed, a picture is uploaded, orders are made online, the weather forecast app is used on a mobile device, and data is generated that is added to the vast amounts already in circulation.

This, according to the report, has shaped new avenues of information about consumer habits. Across the continent, both domestic businesses and international companies are rotating to big data to inform their growth strategies. Data-oriented start-ups are also beginning to grow. Banks and financial firms have noted this development and are clamber to use the data generated by their customers to improve customer service and security.

The report also looked at mobile revolution in Africa and how it has recorded tremendous rise for financial inclusion, while citing the World Bank’s statement, which said between 2011 and 2014 the proportion of adults with a bank account in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 24 per cent to 34 per cent, adding that commercial banks in sub-Saharan Africa could use the statistics to increase the number of future bank accounts.

The report also considered the impact of big data on healthcare and how healthcare organisations can benefit from digitising, combining and effectively using big data. This could enable a range of players, from single-physician offices and multi-provider groups to large hospital networks, to deliver better and more effective services. The healthcare sector generates huge volumes of data by essentially keeping meticulous patient-health records thus with the turn to digital record keeping, large volumes of data are generated.

“Just like in the business world, availability of big data in the healthcare sector, presents an opportunity to discover relationships, patterns and trends within the data. Same as in the business world, big data presents an opportunity to identify patterns and trends in data, which when analysed, presents an opportunity in deriving insights that might lead health providers, practitioners and stakeholders in making better diagnostics, discovering better treatments for diseases, monitoring and preventing disease outbreaks,” the report said.

The report is of the view that big data and data analytics would allow companies understand their customers better and provide valuable insights about human behaviour and intentions. It added that with support and direction, the development community could actually encourage the growth of the craft of ‘data science’ to enhance evidence-based decision-making.

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Four personalization techniques to help consumers feel less overwhelmed

Personalization itself is becoming increasingly sophisticated, making use of in-depth customer data, analytics and profiling, combined with large doses …

Research suggests that 46 per cent of consumers now feel overwhelmed by the sheer choice of products and services aimed at them through digital channels. Personalization can help make marketing communication more meaningful and give people a better sense of control by ensuring that they only receive content that is relevant to them.

It also makes perfect business sense. A study of 1,000 consumers revealed that 80 per cent of us are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences, with 90 per cent saying they find personalization appealing.

Personalization itself is becoming increasingly sophisticated, making use of in-depth customer data, analytics and profiling, combined with large doses of automation. Here are four examples of innovative personalization techniques that can help consumers feel less overwhelmed – by ensuring that the information they’re seeing is tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

1. Personalized web experiences

Delivering fully personalized experiences to people who visit your website makes their lives easier by filtering out content that’s not relevant and showing them the information that really matters to them instead. This is even more important today with the majority of web visitors using a mobile device and having to contend with finding what they want on a small screen with trickier site navigation – usually in shorter browsing sessions.

Thanks to dynamic website personalization (DWP) techniques it’s now possible to personalize everything on a website from images and text to navigation bars and recommended products shown to individual visitors, in real-time. Using machine learning and predictive techniques you can personalize the online experience based on individual visitors’ current and past behaviors, including their browsing patterns, purchase histories, and social networking cues such as ‘likes’ and ‘favorites’.

Sites such as Amazon, Netflix and Spotify are the ‘poster boys’ of this kind of website personalization, customizing their content to deliver completely individualized experiences, populated with the products and services most likely to interest each customer. At the heart of this is a powerful recommendation algorithm designed to identify the products and content that appeal to each individual.

2. Using white space on bills and statements

Because consumers are bombarded with marketing and sales messages at every turn, even expertly targeted, highly personalized content can be overlooked amid all the other marketing ‘chatter’. That’s why marketers engage in transpromotional or ‘transpromo’ communications.

This involves adding personalized messages to the white space on transactional documents such as customer bills and statements (whether they are online or on paper). These are the documents that customers are most likely to look at and engage with on a regular basis.

Rather than always peppering documents with overt sales messages, a subtler approach is to include a mix of personalized information and advice. A power company might display charts highlighting a household’s daily consumption patterns or insert a link or QR code to an energy saving guide, or provide offers based on each customer’s particular circumstances, for example.

Transpromo has great potential as a tool for long-term relationship and brand building as well as for the more direct ‘hard sell’.

3. Event-based personalization

This is about delivering maximum (positive) impact by delivering in-the-moment personalized communications – emails, social interactions, SMS messages, and so on – at the time that’s most relevant and convenient for your customers. It serves to strengthen the customer relationship at key points or events in the customer journey.

Google’s concept of micro-moments points to specific moments in a consumer’s day when they are most likely to be receptive to a communication from your brand. Examples include dispatching a thank you or welcome email the moment a customer places an order or signs up for a service; sending a personalized offer to a web visitor who has spent a period of time visiting certain product pages or has abandoned a shopping cart; or sending an SMS to a customer who is close to an agreed credit limit.

It may sound complex to achieve, but the good news is that specialist customer communications management software can work with your CRM and other business applications to automate the processes involved. For example, the generation of personalized documents, and delivery to the customer’s preferred communications channels (such as email, website, apps and SMS), can be automatically triggered by business rules.

4. Cross-device tracking and targeting

We live in a multi-device world, with consumers using their smartphones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs, voice assistants and more during different stages of the customer journey. Data from GlobalWebIndex suggests, for example, that the average consumer today owns around 3.2 interconnected devices.

By connecting the dots between these separate interactions that happen across the various devices, you can create a holistic picture of the customer that allows you to deliver highly individualized offers, content and advertising. It means that an ecommerce site, for example, can show its visitors ads, offers and content on their laptops or desktops that are related to the pages they browsed when they visited the site on their smartphone during their morning commute.

After all, brand experiences should be consistent, allowing for people to begin an activity on one device and finish on another.

This is an area that’s still evolving. There are currently two main approaches to cross-device ID tracking. The first is the deterministic model championed by the likes of Google and Facebook which relies on users being logged in on multiple devices in order to allow their activity to be tracked as they switch between smartphone, laptop, desktop and smart TV. The other is the probabilistic model, which collects a variety of non-permanent, user-resettable data points such as device type, operating system, IP address, WiFi network, cookies, and so on, and uses machine learning and big data systems to algorithmically match a person or household across devices.

In a world where we are bombarded by information from all sides, it’s essential to find ways to cut through the noise and engage more meaningfully. So it’s hugely encouraging to see businesses delivering more of what customers actually want by using new technology to act on individual preferences and behaviors. The stars are now aligned for personalization at scale, heralding a new era of customer relationships based on genuine understanding, easier communication and mutual benefit.

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Online Display Advertising Services Market Checkout the Unexpected Future 2025 | Criteo …

The Major Players Covered in this Report: Criteo Dynamic Retargeting, DoubleClick Digital Marketing, AdRoll, Sizmek, Celtra, Marin Software, Yahoo …

Industrial overview of Online Display Advertising Services Market 2019-2025:

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The Major Players Covered in this Report: Criteo Dynamic Retargeting, DoubleClick Digital Marketing, AdRoll, Sizmek, Celtra, Marin Software, Yahoo Gemini, MediaMath, Adobe Media Optimizer, Quantcast Advertise, Choozle, Acquisio, The Trade Desk, Flashtalking & More.

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Daniel Larimer of EOS Criticizes Facebook for User Surveillance Issues

Rumors are making rounds that the social media giant is looking to launch its native virtual currency. Although there as of press time there isn’t any …

Daniel Larimer, who co-foundered crypto offering EOS, has reportedly criticized Facebook. He has accused the most popular social media network in the world of stealing user data. He attacked the network for collecting user information and using it to sell ads. Larimer’s EOS is the fourth largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

Litecoin (LTC) Price Today – LTC / USD

Name Price 24H (%)

litecoin
Litecoin(LTC)

$48.06

Larimer: Facebook Uses Private Data to Allow Companies Purchase Targeted Ads

According to Larimer via his Twitter handle, Facebook gives user data to offer firms the possibility of purchasing targeted ads. This implies that the social media network is selling user data and profiting from it.

There have been a number of critics related to Facebook in the last few years. Back in 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal is one notable pitfall of the network. At the time the company used the personal information of millions of users on Facebook for gains. Since then onwards the social network has been under a series of attacks and criticism.

Larimer remarked that the targeted ads are created based on personal user data collected by Facebook at all times. Indeed, it is a difficult thing to do, if not nearly impossible to put an end to. Users can now see when they are tracked the moment they see a personalized ad displayed on Facebook.

Crypto Space Concerned About User Data and Privacy

The crypto community is specifically worried about privacy and their information. This is why after Larimer’s comments, other users began to complain about Facebook’s services and how it utilizes people’s private information.

Recent reports indicate that Facebook has since been working on an unknown project. Rumors are making rounds that the social media giant is looking to launch its native virtual currency. Although there as of press time there isn’t any information about the project. We understand that such a virtual currency could be a stablecoin tied to the USD or another fiat.

If the reports prove to be true, in the beginning, the virtual currency will target the Indian remittance market (which is used on the WhatsApp messaging app). In the future, other nations could be included and other networks including Messenger, Instagram or Facebook.

Crypto Community Have Reason to Be Concerned about Talks of a Facebook Digital Asset

If the rumors that Facebook is working on a virtual currency prove true, then there’s cause for concern among the user community. With a native virtual currency, Facebook could have more access to gather larger user data. Take an example. This development will allow Facebook to know what users purchase, when they purchase it, who they send the funds to, how much they spend on a monthly basis and much more.

In addition to that, individuals on the network will have to remain compliant with the entire KYC and AML policies of Facebook. This, in essence, means that users will not be sure whether the virtual currency is really a positive development or not. Users who want their privacy respected might decide to use other digital assets like Monero (XMR) or Litecoin (LTC).

These concerns are genuine and shouldn’t be disregarded. Whether Facebook’s project is related to the development of a digital token remains to be seen. However, in due time we will be able to tell if these rumors hold any water.

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EOS’ Daniel Larimer Criticizes Facebook for Spying on Users, Calls Possible Crypto Token ‘Spycoin’

With this virtual currency, Facebook could gather even larger data from users. For example, it will be possible to know for the company what users …
EOS' Daniel Larimer Criticizes Facebook for Spying on Users, Calls Possible Crypto Token 'Spycoin'

Dan Larimer, the co-founder of EOS, has criticized Facebook, the most popular social network in the world. He attacked it for collecting user data and using it to sell targeted ads. EOS is the fourth largest digital asset in the market.

Larimer explained on Twitter that Facebook uses private data to offer companies the possibility to purchase targeted ads. This shows that the social media company is using users’ data, selling it and profiting with it.

There have been several critics related to Facebook during the last few years. In 2018, the scandal with Cambridge Analytica in which the company used the personal data of millions of individuals on Facebook, the social network has been under attack.

Dan Larimer explained that targeted ads are made based on personal users’ data that Facebook collects at all time. And indeed, it is something difficult, if not impossible to stop. Users can see when they are being tracked as soon as they see a personalized ad being displayed on Facebook.

Asking Facebook to not display targeted ads is not the same as asking them not to track you. Be grateful for targeted ads, it tells you when your privacy has been compromised. https://t.co/l6rdOOTriD

— Daniel Larimer (@bytemaster7) March 2, 2019

The cryptocurrency community is specifically concerned about privacy and their data. This is why after the comments made by Larimer, other users started to complain about the services offered by Facebook and how it uses people’s private data.

Facebook has also been working on an undisclosed project to launch a virtual currency. Although there is no information about it, the virtual currency could eventually be a stablecoin tied to the US dollar or another fiat currency. In the beginning, it will target the remittance market in India and used on the WhatsApp messaging application. In the future, other countries could be included as well as other networks such as Messenger, Instagram or Facebook.

With this virtual currency, Facebook could gather even larger data from users. For example, it will be possible to know for the company what users purchase, when they do it, to who they send the money, how much they spend per month and more. Additionally, individuals will have to be compliant with all the KYC and AML policies.

Thus, users are not sure whether this virtual currency is a positive development for the market or not. Users that want to have their privacy respected might use other digital assets such as Monero (XMR) or Litecoin (LTC) in the future.