Four Questions For: Greg Green

What are the biggest issues facing Big Data and marketing in 2017?
There are three primary issues currently facing “Big Data” and Marketing. First, the issue of irrelevance regarding the vast majority of collected data – and conversely, the power of focused, actionable insights from the right slice of data. The pressure on today’s data and analytics professionals continues to grow, forcing them to sift through the noise to find the hidden diamonds.
Second, consumers are changing their behavior faster than data collection and algorithms teams can handle. This leads to marketers chasing trends and opportunities, as they are overwhelmed with data from older paradigms. For example, marketers with a 360-degree view of the customer built in the 1990s, rebuilt in the 2000s and updated again after 2015, completely miss the power of social media while reacting to real-time events.
Third, and most importantly, while the behavioral data shared from our devices gives us some information, the intuition and insights from data science, operations and customer service teams remain equally, if not more so, important. Each business, whether an auto manufacturer or a local pizza pub, needs both the data and the on-the- ground insight to find the golden nuggets and avoid potential disasters.
What new technologies should marketers be using to better analyze and act on data?
It’s no longer a question of if marketers are adopting technology; it’s a matter of what kind of technology. Technology is critical for connecting data silos and catching shoppers’ attention. Brands should tap solutions that help them better understand consumer behavior across print, digital (mobile, video, etc.), in-store, TV and e-commerce channels to get the full scope of their audiences’ actions.
We are especially interested in technology that helps us visualize trends and detect changes in consumer behavior quickly. Consumers tend to lead brands into new arenas by adopting technologies, apps and devices faster than clients can adapt. Marketers have access to this comprehensive data intelligence and ultimately need to adjust their media strategies to take advantage of new behavior patterns, dynamically changing consumer segments and shopper preferences. Segmentation tools, technology that accounts for both integrated online and offline targeting and utilizing vendors with open partner ecosystems should all be part of a marketer’s arsenal. By not accounting for all media channels, marketers are missing the bigger picture. They are formulating a customer profile based on a partial view – technology must be utilized to gain a more holistic audience overview.
It’s important to note that while technology can clearly improve marketing results, it must be combined with a human touch to ensure it’s a more nuanced experience.
How can marketers tread the line between personalization and targeting while ensuring consumer privacy is respected?
It’s no surprise that privacy is a major issue today – consumers increasingly feel “creeped-out” as marketers aim to provide a relevant experience. We especially see this across mobile platforms with location data. Many consumers actually don’t mind sharing this data – it’s when brands use the information in unintended manners or without providing a relevant ROI for customers, so to speak, that brand/consumer friction appears. To avoid this, marketers need to build trust with their audience. This can be achieved by ensuring that the collected data benefits the consumer.
Another way to build trust is to establish a clear opt-in option. Marketers shouldn’t be luring their audience into opting-in – it should be a transparent process laying out exactly what the consumer can expect to receive in return. What if a consumer says “no?” Leave it be. Don’t annoy them with constant opt-in requests. If and when they’d like to share data, you can bet a new app or value proposition will draw them in.
What are some strategies that brands/marketers can leverage to make data as valuable as possible for consumers?
As shoppers, we all want to feel valued and understood. Knowing this mindset, it’s up to marketers to engage their audience in meaningful ways across the channels they prefer. Brands should use the data at their disposal for a catered experience. If a shopper has a birthday coming up, send a special discount code. Want to take it a step further? Allow them to share the code with up to five friends. This ends up being a win-win for the consumer and brand. The shopper feels valued, and the brand extends its reach to five potential new customers.
Data should also be tapped to include real-time offers in marketing campaigns. Imagine a consumer is departing work for the day and looking for a local spot to pick up some pizza for dinner. A simple mobile alert offering a pizza coupon in that exact neighborhood can be the needed influence to spur a shopper to make a purchase decision. Making data relevant for consumers shouldn’t feel like a hassle for marketers. The little extra effort can go a long way in customer engagement, retention and happiness. Yes – happiness.

Fluent in applying data science to business applications and driving revenue, Greg possesses nearly 25 years of industry experience. In his role as Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Valassis, he brings a unique combination of expertise across disciplines including data management, consumer analytics, marketing tech, sales operations and product development.