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Tom Chapman
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4 brands using data, time and location to reach customers

| 30 April 2015

Most Monday mornings I surprise myself. Last Monday I shocked myself. Despite feeling like an albino mole with squinty eyes, I skipped out the house full of the joys of Spring, elated to see that the sun really does still exist. My joy didn’t last long. Ten minutes later the dark cloud of the daily commute descended. I was shocked at how quickly my radiant self became overridden with anger and irritation. I feel for anyone that dares enter my personal space on the London underground at 8.15am.

Heaven help then, the poor onesie-clad volunteers that innocently congregate on the pavement at the end of my journey. By this time I’m on the warpath, and having leaflets shoved in my face does nothing to lower my blood pressure. Marketers take note. It’s time to dive back into the toolbox and take advantage of data to reach people at the right time, and in the right place.

Diving Back into the Toolbox

We’re living in an increasingly connected world that’s fast becoming an “internet of things”. Put simply, more and more devices are being hooked up to the internet so that they can talk to each other and relay information. This creates data, often referred to as “big data,” because there’s so much of it. It’s absolute marketing gold-dust, enabling you to use time and location to reach your audience.

Where once you had to time campaigns around print deadlines and broadcast slots, you can now reach customers anywhere, anytime. This means you can speak to cantankerous sorts like me when I’m sat comfortably at my desk. Social media including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, which are all easily accessible via computers, smartphones and tablets, enable content to be shared almost instantly with multitudes of people. Mobile “apps” can put you right at customers’ fingertips. Data from tracking devices and sensors, such as GPS, means adverts can be placed in real-time, adding a whole new level of interaction with your audience.

Putting the Tools to Work

The labyrinth of data now available means you can act and react almost instantaneously to major events, catching your audience when they’re most receptive.  Oreo did this brilliantly during a blackout in 2013 at the New Orleans Super Bowl, when it got straight onto Twitter with a simple message and image: “Power Out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark." It was retweeted more than 15,000 times.

Data from systems such as GPS that track location, can be used to place adverts in real-time, adding a layer of personalization to your marketing. British Airways did this with billboards that could detect passing planes.  Then there’s mobile apps that can quite literally put you at the end of your customers fingertips. By 2017 it’s estimated that nearly three-quarters (69.4%) of the world population will have a mobile phone and of those, 57.8% will have access to the internet.

In a nutshell: Data streams add fresh fodder to marketing campaigns. In an increasingly connected world, our time and attention spans are shortening and using data to generate punchy and creative content can enliven your campaign and entertain a time-starved audience.

Inspirational Examples

Below are four companies that tapped into the new tool in the box and nailed data-driven marketing campaigns.

British Airways: Magic of Flying

This airline dotted digital billboards around London in a bid to showcase its wealth of destinations. The billboards sensed when British Airways planes were flying overhead, at which point they asked passers-by to look-up and spot them, displaying an image of a cute child pointing overhead. In another stroke of genius, they also invented a “Happiness Blanket” that monitors your happiness and changes colour to reflect your mood.

Coca-Cola and Channel 4: Personalized Adverts

These companies joined forces to generate personalized adverts for 4oD users. Viewers watching 4oD content via Channel4.com, saw 10-second clips featuring the Channel 4 logo morphing into a Coca-Cola bottle. The bottle had been personalized with the names of viewers and the tagline “Share a Coke.” Coca-Cola zoomed in on Channel 4’s primary audience of 16-34 year olds.

Apotek: Apolosophy

Apotek, a Swedish chain of pharmacies, wooed commuters on Stockholm’s underground with sensored billboards that could detect when a train arrived. As trains pulled into the platform, the boards showed a woman’s hair blowing in the breeze.

Nivea: The Protection Ad

Nivea employed sheer genius, linking online and offline marketing, as it sought to increase its footprint in Brazil. Realizing that many families flick through magazines on the beach, whilst keeping an eye-out for their kids, they placed a magazine advert with a detachable bracelet that could be wrapped around a child’s wrist. The bracelet contained a chip so that parents could download an app on their smartphones and sync it to the bracelet. That enabled them to monitor their child’s whereabouts, alerting them when they wandered off too far. The campaign saw sales ramp-up as much as 62%.

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