Content marketing and segmentation have been the mantra for a while now, but the future of conversions and engagement is in content personalisation at scale.

Conversant have proven that media personalisation creates new demand for brands based on nearly a decade delivering personalised media campaigns for brands. Savage connected with Elliott Clayton, SVP of Media at Conversant to identify critical factors that would define strategy, engagement and successful brand activation.

S: Savage, among many of the marketers in the EU enjoyed your take on GDPR being a net positive for brands. How can marketers and publishers improve their media offering to the consumer and be GDPR compliant?

Elliott Clayton, Conversant MediaEC: GDPR and the necessity of requesting transparent consent is a brilliant opportunity for brands that want to build trust and engagement with their customers. High quality 1:1 personalised media offerings, optimised towards brand equity and expressed as incremental lifetime value, will consolidate a brand’s customer engagement. Less and better communications will build consent, creating a virtuous circle within the guidelines of GDPR. There will be a transitional period obviously but in the long term I think it is really good news.

S: Why is media personalisation relevant to digital marketers and how can this affect customer engagement and attrition?

EC: In a survey we conducted with Econsultancy, 75% of CMOs we interviewed said 1:1 personalisation at scale was a strategic business imperative to grow revenues without growing spend. Media personalisation is the only real way to achieve this at scale because most owned channels – email, SMS, on-site – are usually limited in reach and lend themselves to limited messaging opportunities as well. We’ve billions of dollars running through our marketing technologies, and whilst we’ve been in the EU for just 18 months, we have seen that a personalised 1:1 messaging strategy that creates a dialogue with consumers – more listening than telling – typically generates incremental returns above 4:1, which our clients have replicated in their own experimental designs. It proves personalisation creates new demand.

S: Conversant is known for blending technology, the art of marketing, and massive data to make a big impact on millions of consumers on a personal level. Are there any client case stories you are particularly impressed by?

EC: As our model creates incremental lifetime value over time, I’m most pleased our first client in the UK is still our happiest client. The Dune Group is a global fashion footwear and accessories company, and have seen incremental LTV from the audiences we’ve messaged increase 64% during our partnership. Our work to bring Dune closer to their consumers has also meant the onsite conversion of the messaged audience has increased 30% over time – it‘s great to know you can affect on-site conversion rate before a customer reaches a site.

S: Where would AI fit in a CMO’s customer engagement stack?

EC: I think the most important thing to consider is that data beats an algorithm always, and that data and algorithms are useless without identification – any media action has a high probability of reaching the wrong audience without identity resolution. Conversant is in our eighth year of continuous machine learning; and makes sense of hundreds of billions of streaming inputs, billions of times daily. As a result, AI is everywhere in our business. However my instinct is that AI doesn’t have a place in all CMO’s DIY stacks yet, because most individual businesses are not large enough or have enough data to effectively leverage AI as a point solution. Today’s AI techniques were invented between 1985 and 1998 but fell out of favour because of a lack of data and scale – not all businesses have solved that still.

S: The use case of AI chatbots, AI assistants are plenty, but how can AI help us understand data and how does this affect the strategy and direction taken by a brand?

EC: AI is essential to achieve 1:1 personalisation at scale. If you think about really good communication with friends or family, there’s far more listening than talking that goes on – responses are considered, personal, and measured. AI can enable that, allowing us to make intelligent decisions about whom to message, how and when to deliver marketing, and when to hold back – plus, very importantly, what to say.

What we’ve learnt over time is that what companies typically see as ‘lifestyle’ or ‘brand’ creative, creates new demand. So, AI is moving our partners’ strategy away from ‘high-volume, low-quality’ product led advertising towards less and better value-based advertising.

S: With billions of dollars spent on digital ads, how can a CMO protect his investment against ad fraud?

EC: Working with single stack solutions will reduce exposure to what is an opaque ad-tech market. Businesses that key on actual personal identifiers such as name and address, rather than email addresses, for example, will be better still. If a CMO is being pushed towards point solutions, then the best way to protect against fraud is to find a sweet spot of signifiers rather than using just one metric as a quality score – in-view or click-through rate, for example – and ignoring everything else will lead to advertisers optimising towards fraud. The fraudsters know what advertisers are looking for as well, unfortunately.

Conversant is an IAB Gold standard partner and a member of Jicwebs – we use multiple technologies – Moat, IAS, for example but our main protection against fraud is that we message real people who buy on or offline.

Catch Elliott’s presentation at Savage Marketing 2018 on 1:1 Personalisation at Scale in the Data in Marketing track  on June 13 at 15:30.

Elliott Clayton, Conversant Media

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