By Association: Brands, Data and Marketing Finally Have Come Together

Call it marketing data’s destiny. On July 1, if membership approves, the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) will be owned and operated by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). Perhaps a merger more than 100 years in the making.

Call it “marketing data’s destiny.”

On July 1, if membership approves, the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) will be owned and operated by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

The former first began in 1917 — the latter in 1910. Perhaps this moment is destiny 100-plus years in the making.

In 1915, William Wrigley sent chewing gum to every household listed in every phone book in America — more than 1 million at the time. That was “direct marketing.”

What David Ogilvy Knew, We All Must Know Now

One of the greatest advertising practitioners of all time – David Ogilvy – knew that “direct response” advertisers — no matter what the medium — knew which ads worked, and which didn’t, because of their discipline to measure. Direct marketing was Ogilvy’s “secret weapon.”

Google did not invent analytics — direct marketers were always data-driven, and have been testing and analyzing and measuring every piece of advertising real estate under the sun. Google helped to introduce analytics to digital-first marketers.

Early on, direct marketers recognized Amazon as what it truly is — front end to back end: “direct marketing on steroids.”

DMA knows data. Its conferences, content, professional development — and advocacy and representation — have always advanced the discipline of data-driven marketing, in quality and quantity. Accountability, efficiency, return on investment, testing and audience measurement — these attributes, for perhaps decades too long — were relegated “second-class” citizenship by Madison Avenue, general advertising and the worship of creativity.

Oh, how times have changed.

Data Streams — What Direct Response Started, Digital Exploded

Even before the Internet was invented, smart brands — leading brands — started to recognize the power of data in their advertising and marketing. While some had dabbled in direct mail, most pursued sales promotion techniques that mimic but do not fully commit to direct marketing measurement. It was the advent of database marketing — fueled by loyalty programs, 800 numbers and credit cards — that gave many “big” advertisers their first taste of audience engagement.

Brand champions were curious, and many were hooked. Nothing helps a brand more than customer interaction. Data sets the stage for such interaction through relevance — and interactions enable behavioral and contextual insights for future messaging and content.

Digital marketing — and mobile since — have exploded the availability of data.  So all-told, brands must be data-centric today, because that’s how customers are found, sustained, served and replicated. In fact, data-centricity and customer-centricity are nearly indistinguishable.

ANA and DMA coming together — it’s as if brands understand (or know they need to understand) that data champions the consumer and serves the brand promise. Data serves to prove the effectiveness of all the advertising, marketing and engagement brought forth.

ANA has been acquiring organizations — Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Brand Activation Association, Business Marketing Association and now the Data and Marketing Association. There certainly may be more to this most recent transaction than my humble point of view here today.

But I’d rather believe that data-driven marketing, finally, has received an accolade from brands 100 years due. Congratulations are in order.


Marketing ROI Is in Your Past

That rumor we’ve been hearing for years is simply not true: “Marketing ROI is in your past.” And it never will be, as human nature does not and will not change. And neither will all the chaos in marketing channels from hundreds of marketers trying to get consumers’ attention simultaneously, 24/7.

That rumor we’ve been hearing for years is simply not true: “Marketing ROI is in your past.” And it never will be, as human nature does not and will not change. And neither will all the chaos in marketing channels from hundreds of marketers trying to get consumers’ attention simultaneously, 24/7.

What is true is that every 60 seconds more than:

  • 156 million emails are sent
  • 29 million messages are processed on What’s App
  • 350,000 tweets are sent
  • 243,000 photos are uploaded on FB; 70,000 hours of video contents is watched
  • 400 hours of video are uploaded on Youtube
  • 3.8 million searches take place on Google

And a lot more.

What’s not true is the decade-long rumor that print is dead. And it’s not going to happen anytime soon, if ever.

In fact, print is one of the most powerful channels for engaging consumers with brand messages that lead to more fulfilling brand experiences, according to the Data and Marketing Association’s 2016 response rate report and other sources:

  • Direct mail outperforms digital for response nearly 2X!
  • Print achieves 30% more recall than digital.

Most of us thought print died when email took over with nearly 4 billion people worldwide using email.

But we humans are a tactile species. We thrive on being able to touch things, and physically engage with the stimuli around us vs. observe from the other side of a screen. We like to hug those we love vs. send a digital wave. We like to touch the silky coat of our pets vs. just post cute photos on our screen savers. We like to touch paper books and turn the pages, and feel the weight of the story yet to unfold in our hands.

When we engage our senses beyond just sight, and actually touch things, we concentrate more and end up feeling more emotionally fulfilled.  The response rate and sales volume generated by printed sales-oriented communications such as direct mail and catalog, is powerful and does not show any signs of letting up. In fact, 90 million consumers in the U.S. make purchases from print catalogs and spend on average $850 annually, and printed direct mail commands a higher response than email, as mentioned earlier.

According to a  2018 Radicati Group study, there will be more than 3.8 billion email users before the start of 2019, over 100 million more than the previous year. In other words, over half of the entire planet uses email.

With all the technology constantly being developed by leaders in the print industry such as Xerox, it continues to engage more of our senses and create deeper levels of emotional engagement. Just recently, Xerox released its new Iridesse production press allowing printers to more beautifully and easily use metallic prints to further engage our visual senses and the emotions that result from exposure to shiny new objects.  Xerox has also simplified the process of highly personalized catalogs, allowing retailers to print consumers’ names, and past transaction information on covers and pages of catalogs, engaging our sense of value and appreciation, another “sense” proven to increase sales as more than 50% of customers will shop elsewhere if a brand does not recognize them personally.

Because of Xerox technology for personalization, and the ability to print striking, engaging, rich colors in communications that are highly relevant to consumers, print is not just competing with email. It’s now winning the game. We respond more and we actually engage a lot longer. We open envelopes with compelling graphics and relevant messages over clearly written subject lines and we respond twice as much. And we don’t opt out of print as easily as we do emails with that very convenient “unsubscribe” button, giving marketers another chance to communicate something that really matters to us.

Marketers in both B2B and B2C need to slow down when it comes to assigning market budgets to the latest technology apps and channels and rethink the past: print. Spending money on printed communications distributed via mail, trade show events, and in-store does and will pay off, and will drive consumers to your digital channels where you can engage via online chat, email and other ways. Trying to initiate engagement via email today is just getting harder, especially with GDPR becoming reality in the EU and other countries.

No matter how sophisticated digital technology becomes, and it will continue to find ways to engage us in fun ways such as augmented reality tools. Print will never die because human nature will never change. We will always want to touch things, to cozy up by a fire with a good story in a nicely printed book or catalog, and to “unplug” from the electrical world that in just 60 seconds bombards us with more messages and distractions than our human minds can fathom.