When most marketers use the word ‘data’, what springs to mind are large sets of numbers, Excel spreadsheets, cloud-based IT systems and complicated algorithms. Big data speak is the mot du jour. There is even a big data Week in London called the Festival of Data.
“With big data, it’s easy to get carried away and forget that it’s about people, and that these people exist in all mediums,” comments Jonas Jaanimagi, head of media strategy and operations at REA Group.
It’s something all digital-led businesses should remember as they embark on the quest for ultimate personalisation and efficiency through big data analytics.
That ability to see consumers through data, as well as improve operational efficiency and ad delivery for its advertisers, is becoming a reality for the team at online real estate advertising company, which owns media brands such as Realestate.com.au and property.com.au. Jaanimagi tells CMO REA Group’s big data analytics journey is broken into two parts.
The first is having the correct technical infrastructure to allow for scalable, real-time analytics in the most efficient and effective way possible. This prompted the decision this year to rollout SAS’s Intelligent Advertising platform, an ad serving solution providing precision forecasting, decision optimisation, inventory management and sales performance reporting around delivering digital advertising solutions for its customer base.
The immediate benefits include significant internal process improvements and better reporting capabilities for the company’s ad serving team dealing with the increasingly complex display advertising landscape.
“We have big teams of people doing a lot of admin, and that has to change in this modern era to doing more consultative work and analysis based on data,” Jaanimagi explains. Insights generated can then be fed back into the sales teams, making for more intelligent and intuitive media execution, he adds.
While big data is very much a cornerstone of digital ad delivery today, it also lends itself to improving REA Group’s position as a media business delivering all media messages, Jaanimagi says. “Increasingly we’re seeing two-way relationships with consumers and therefore more in-depth media execution as a result of that. This technology investment is setting us up for the future,” he says.
But while technology is vital to success, Jaanimagi says the second part of REA’s analytics journey is having the right “philosophical approach” to what it’s trying to do. “If you’re not focused on something specific, it’s easy to run in all kinds of directions,” he says.
“Our business purpose is to make the entire property process efficient, easier and stress free for the consumer. That’s about driving the messaging around the consideration of property, through to what happens a year after you move in. You’ve got the have the infrastructure and overriding purpose of what your company’s trying to do and why, to drive the right outcome.”
While REA’s journey is only just beginning, Jaanimagi is enthusiastic about the long-term potential of data analytics. He highlighted channel attribution as one of the biggest challenges marketers face and one he sees being overcome through data analytics.
“If you can take the data we have as a media owner, enrich it with data from a buyer and a third party, that’s very exciting,” he continues. “You can refine it down to a target audience and also what those people have done previously, as well as what the value of each of those touch points might be, which will drive the decision to make right now and the message you are about to deliver.”
But he warns data alone won’t work without the willingness of consumers to share their information with brands. Brand integrity and a careful data usage policy are also essential.
“If we can enable our big brand customers to deliver additional value and have a relationship with the consumer that’s a positive one, then that’s a win. If we get it right for consumers, we’ll get it right for our customers,” Jaanimagi adds.
This article originally appeared in CMO's first magazine edition in March 2014. To subscribe to your free copy of our exciting new print title, visit: cmo.com.au/subscribe.