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Marrying People and Data for the Storytelling of the Future

Mon, 07/03/2017

By Stephan Beringer , Global Head, Data, Technology and Innovation, Publicis Media

The single biggest asset a brand can have is the ability to build and curate strong relationships with any consumer in the world. Brands that achieve this, will have an enviable competitive advantage; because if you are able to connect to consumers better than others, you will be able to anticipate what your customers will desire tomorrow, shape your offer and engagement strategy accordingly and understand your strengths and opportunities.

The Individual, the driving force behind emerging technologies

This is where big data comes in. The multitude of data signals that brands need to process are vastly different; be that customer, transactional, behavioral, or competitive. Bringing it all together, relative to each brand’s attributes and unifying it around an individual, is the holy grail.

At Publicis Media, we leverage data from owned assets and third party data, to provide clients with a deeper understanding of consumers from device usage, to content affinity, purchase behavior and TV viewership. We use machine learning models to uncover the relationship between cookies, devices and offline behaviors to actual people. This consumer view powers all communications decision making throughout the consumer journey — online and offline media, messaging and experiences.

When we talk about technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, these are all input, processing, or output layers, that are ultimately connected around the person. Consumer centricity is the core concept. When it comes to the future, that’s really the underlying philosophy.

Shaping the future of communications with big data

Big data is essential to success in marketing and business. For our clients today, the challenges are many:

  • unprecedented competition from new entrants, start-ups and disruptors
  • churn and change as the predominant constant in consumers’ behavior
  • a continuous influx of consumer data signals
  • cost pressures, more so than ever before

Big data helps us answer most of this. From a business standpoint, from a strategic standpoint, and from an addressability standpoint, big data will essentially:

  • help brands identify those individuals who will deliver the most value to them
  • enable brands to identify the opportunity wherever they have it
  • and when that opportunity arrives, brands will be able to anticipate behavior, and determine what strategy, content and message to move forward with

Big data and its analysis makes it possible to engage with different parts of the audience with customized approaches, without too much overlap and repetition.

It may sound like a wild idea today, but we will move towards a future where individuals within audience segments will, for instance, resonate with specific imagery identified, generated and sourced solely on the basis of big data. This is where we will be in around three years’ time. So it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that at the foundational level, big data is the only way brands can address the rising challenges. If you don’t leverage data at scale, you’re not getting anywhere.

Enabling evolved people relations with technology

PR will always be about building relationships with people. And now, technologies are enabling us to get closer to the consumer, more intimately than we could ever have imagined. We’re leveraging the exact same architecture as before, only with the direct help of technology.

Another interesting aspect is how this will transform media relations. The relationship we’ve been relying on for ages is the relationship between the media and their audiences or their readership. We now have direct access to the audience and an increasing number of channels to reach them by. With the multitude of ways to analyze the insights these channels offer up, we can steer and compile content and fully automate the process. The possibilities are just so much greater.

This, I think, is the direction where PR or the communications industry is headed, because I believe you now have the ability to engage with consumers in ways you were just not able to in the past.

The relationship we’ve been relying on for ages is the relationship between the media and their audiences or their readership. We now have direct access to the audience and an increasing number of channels to reach them by.

Preparing for the rise of the machines

The one thing that I think we will eventually pay more attention to is the increasing use of virtual assistants and bots. Bots will have a very drastic impact on our use of search, our unified relationships and interactions with brands, and on commerce. In fact we are moving from an era of e-commerce, where you would go to a platform to purchase something, to the age of ‘me-commerce’, where everything surrounds you in anticipation of your needs.

The question arises of where, if at all, we draw the line. While bots will make life easier for us by taking up and mastering many of our rudimentary tasks, we need to question how that is going to impact the way we interact with each other and with brands? Machines will talk to machines, people will engage with bots, and interact with their peers in a manner that will, increasingly, be determined by algorithms. I think it’s exceedingly important for us, to have a strategy to intercept or interrupt this process, because at some point, we may get excluded – and that will be a challenge for which we must be prepared.

This article is a part of “ PR 2020 The Dawn of the Augmented Influence ” published by MSL’s People’s Insights team that covers the latest trends in engagement on both the consumer and corporate side.

Stephan Beringer, global head of data, technology and innovation at Publicis Media, leads the development and delivery of technologies and solutions that enable Publicis Media’s clients to do data-driven marketing.

@StephanBeringer |

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For more information contact Pascal Beucler , SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, Global, MSL and Melanie Joe , Consultant – Research & Insights, MSL

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