Trueffect's First-Party Advertising Technology Blog

Trueffect Executive Partner Summit – Q&A with our Keynote - Gunther Sonnenfeld

Posted by Nina Piccinini, Director of Marketing on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 @ 11:46 AM




At the end of the month, Trueffect will once again welcome executives from a range of industries to our 2nd Annual Executive Partner Summit which will take place from April 30th – May 2nd. We’re already looking forward to two days of networking, knowledge sharing, and fun in beautiful Boulder, CO. As part of our ramp up to the event, we’ve asked some of our speakers to sit down with us for a short Q&A where they’ll be covering off on all things digital media. 

First up, a man known for his vision, Gunther Sonnenfeld. He currently acts a partner at K5 Ventures, acting CIO (Chief Information Officer) and lead advisor at Faveeo, and is the co-founder of Paperlet, among many other roles. We spoke to Gunther via email and he shared his thoughts on the future of the industry and how brands must adapt.

  1. Let’s start with a bit of history. In three sentences, who is Gunther Sonnenfeld?

I'm a guy who never could manage the status quo and gave up on it a long time ago. I'm a multi-disciplinarian and a polymath -- I say that with confidence and humility. My larger goal in life is to help democratize information systems.

  1. Obviously, in the course of your career, you’ve seen a lot of success and innovation. In fact, you’ve been a critical driver of both in your various roles. What would your learnings be on what makes for a successful brand initiative?

We're at a point in history -- an interesting shift in post-industrialism and modernism -- whereby sustainable brands are representative of open, authentic and empathic businesses. You can't market yourself these days any other way and expect to get away with it. Therefore, initiatives must reflect that earnestness, whether they are fictional, non-fictional, comedic or dramatic. You could consider this the golden age of storytelling. But for advertising to seize this shift, it must reinvent itself creatively and as a service industry.

  1. On the Internet, change comes rapidly and continually. Where do you see the digital marketing space heading in the next year?

This is a loaded question; in short, I see digital marketing becoming far more participatory and immersive.

Social media, content marketing and omnichannel optimization are just buzz phrases to describe a need to involve people (consumers) more meaningfully in the way we develop products and services, as well as in how we build markets. Marketing, specifically, is about actually building markets, rather than capturing marketshare through manipulative messaging and the like. If we can measure everything, we have no excuse not to protect people's data and identities, as well as cut down on all the signal noise we're throwing at them. It's time to be a lot smarter and a lot more mindful.

In this way, I see digital marketing -- via publishing, journalism and data science -- becoming more of a profit center inside of progressive organizations, rather than a cost center.

  1. The battle recently for digital advertising has focused a great deal around cookies and how to make them work in spite of everything. Are third-party cookies worth saving? If not, what should marketers do to prepare for their demise?

Third-party cookies are a waste of time and tied to a seriously outmoded system of tagging and measurement. Brands should just work on developing the integrity of their own converged media ecosystems and focus on building real relationships with people without stealing their information and selling it off. This is and always has been a travesty. The brands who recognize this and do something about it for the longer term will succeed longer term. It's that simple.

  1. What are brands doing wrong?

A brand often assumes its positioning is more important than its customers. Most people don't really care about brands -- they care about the things that affect them in their daily lives and rituals. If brands can fit into these routines, great. But brands can no longer assume that they are important "just because." The world has changed and we no longer have an endless supply of human and natural resources. The same goes for messaging and content. In order for brands to be relevant in the world, they must improve the world.

For a recap of Gunther’s full keynote session as well as a download of all of our Summit content, visit us right here where we’ll be sharing highlights post event.


You can follow Gunther on Twitter @goonth and read more from him at

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10 Things Great Publishers Know

Posted by Emily Steele on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 @ 11:56 AM



After buying, planning and strategizing digital media programs for what feels like 50 years, we’ve discovered the hallmarks of what makes a great digital publisher and we hold high expectations. If you’re a publisher looking to do business with us, here’s the 10 things you must know:

  1. Be proactive with suggestions on optimizations. See one line item performing stronger than another on the back end? Make the suggestion to move the budget without a nudge from our team. It’s a simple value add that makes a world of difference.

  2. Be responsive. Our clients mean the world to us and we need to pivot on a dime if anything comes up.

  3. We love reporting. We have robust reporting internally and use this data to influence decisioning for ongoing campaigns, however love to add to this with insightful publisher reports.

  4. We love ongoing partnerships. Our team forms relationships on those publishers that continue to impress us and remain accountable and proactive. Did you make a mistake on the campaign? Tell us before we find out and provide fair added value and a thorough explanation. Things happen and we get that, however we expect the same mistake not to happen twice.

  5. Know your own offering. Explain how your product relates to other components of our media plan. If you are offering exchange inventory, ask what efforts are already in place with other exchanges or DSPs and talk about media overlap. If you are a mobile partner, address APP vs. WAP tracking options and how this may impact our goals.

  6. When completing an RFP, always include data and rationale in the form of Comscore, Nielsen, etc. on why you selected the placements you did with a PowerPoint. We realize this is more work; however, it is obvious to us who spends more time on proposals than others.

  7. Ask us about our metrics. What is the conversion rate we are trying to hit and how can you back out your rates in order to hit these marks?

  8. Expect us to be tough negotiators. We have worked with thousands of vendors and know the fair cost and markup of data.

  9. Do not get into contact with our clients without discussing with our team first. We want you to be successful as much as we would like to be successful and we build our relationships on trust.

  10. Our team will not be bribed with gifts, fancy dinners, or excessive compliments, we will however be your best friends if your media performance kicks ass!

What would be in your top list of what makes a great publisher? Publishers, tell us your side of the story – what do you look for in an ad partner?


Emily Steele is the Director of Operations Strategy for Trueffect. In her downtime, she enjoys everything about being outside in Colorado, green tea ice cream and trying to obtain 1,000 Pinterest followers by December, 2014.



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Is Your Campaign Hitting Creative Burnout?

Posted by Emily Steele on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 @ 11:34 AM

How a Major Telecom Client gained 5% Efficiency Based on New Creative Schedule

 Can you recall the last banner ad that you have been exposed to that caught your attention? Did it catch your attention due to the offer, a product that was relevant and memorable, or because you have seen the same ad a million times and are annoyed? Your reactions to these ads are what interests Trueffect in determining human behavior based on how often the same ads are served and what users do once they have been exposed to the ads.

Creative burnout is something that is monitored internally at Trueffect to further optimize media campaigns. What exactly is creative burnout you ask? I can get really geeky into this explanation and how we come to determine this metric; however, in layman’s terms, it is an algorithm we use internally to determine how long a specific creative advertisement should be in rotation prior to swapping it out. Why swap? After a certain period of time, performance begins to dip.

As an example, we ran this analysis on a major telecom client and found compelling results. Based on the results below, we were able to determine that there was a strong dip in conversion rate performance after the 7th week creative has been running.




Upon presenting these results to the client, we have been able to establish a creative calendar where new creative is generated ahead of time and slotted to go into rotation 7 weeks after the prior creative, instead of guessing when it may be time to swap out a message. We’ve seen 5% improvement in overall performance since this analysis has been completed.

Alongside the most important metrics of a successful direct response campaign such as cost/acquisition, cost/order, return on ad spend or for branding campaigns where the goal is impact, time spent interacting with the unit or engagement rate, there are many ongoing optimizations that also play a key role in the success of a campaign as well as brand recall. We built the creative burnout algorithm to capture one more piece of that puzzle.

How do you track creative burnout for your campaigns?


Emily Steele is the Director of Operations Strategy for Trueffect. In her downtime, she enjoys everything about being outside in Colorado, green tea ice cream and trying to obtain 1,000 Pinterest followers by December, 2014.




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Data Security Stewardship

Posted by Victoria Cao on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 @ 01:33 PM


Yesterday’s decision in the denial of motion to dismiss in FTC v. Wyndham reminds us that businesses must be proactive in protecting consumers’ sensitive data and personally identifiable information (PII). Judge Salas of the New Jersey Federal Court gave a decision that means the case will continue on to trial, denying Wyndham’s challenges that the FTC lacked authority, failed to promulgate specific data security regulations, and pled insufficient facts to support their claim.

What happened?

In short, Wyndham suffered three separate hacker attacks months apart and failed to implement proper data security measures even after the first two occurrences.

The long version: Wyndham Worldwide Corp. and its three subsidiaries, Wyndham Hotel Group LLC, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts LLC, and Wyndham Hotel Management Inc., all have computer systems that handle personally identifiable information (PII), and all systems are linked to a corporate network (“property management system”). Between April 2008 and January 2010, three separate attacks, all using similar techniques, and Wyndham failed to take action to prevent further compromise of the network and consumers’ PII. The system failed to require complex passwords and user IDs, which led to the compromise by “brute force attack” – where hackers compromise an account by guessing user IDs and passwords. More than 619,000 payment card account numbers were compromised, resulting in $10.6 million in fraud loss and consumer financial injury.

What does this mean?

Although this was not a final decision on the case, the denial of motion to dismiss supports the FTC’s authority to hold businesses “accountable for safeguarding consumer data.”[1] The FTC can bring action under Section 5 of the FTC Act for “unfair” and “deceptive” practices related to data stewardship and subsequent breaches. Whether or not the case will find deceptive and unfair practices in this instance is yet to be seen, but this decision allows the FTC to continue bringing action in cases of consumer harm by reinforcing its unfairness authority.


Victoria Cao -  Product Manager, Data Privacy




[1] Ramirez, Edith (EdithRamirezFTC) “Pleased the court recognized @FTC’s authority to hold biz accountable for safeguarding consumer data & look forward to trying this case.” 7 April 2014, 3:26PM Tweet.

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Top Tips for Trueffect Tools – Tip 1: Associate New Campaigns to Advertiser's Conversion Tracking

Posted by Kendall Russell, Director of Ad Operations on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 @ 11:56 AM


We're kicking off a new blog series here at Trueffect that takes a look at the little things that can make a big difference. Whether it’s a previously released enhancement that you missed or a tweak that will take a campaign to the next level, Top Tips will always be short, sweet and satisfactory.


Tip 1: Associate New campaigns to Advertiser's Conversion Tracking

  1. After creating a new campaign, enter “Measurements” window.
  2. In the Available Campaigns for "Measurement Name" area of the window (found on the lower left side), locate the campaign to which you wish to associate the measurement.
  3. Click to select it, and then click the right arrow button to add the campaign to the Measured Campaigns for "Measurement Name" area.


By associating measurements to the campaign and site tracking, the tool will provide Conversion Metrics in reporting linked to the Media that drove the activity. Just this one simple step greatly improves your insight.


Kendall Russell is the Director of Ad Operations for Trueffect where the favorite part of his role is supporting our clients each and every day. He also is a Cancer who enjoys snowboarding, red wine and long walks on the beach. 

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Adobe Summit Coverage Wrap-Up

Posted by Team Trueffect on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 04:13 PM


The show is over but for the partying and skiing. All the sessions have concluded. But fear not, if you missed out on seeing all the sessions you wanted to, maybe we can help. We covered several sessions over three days, including both amazing keynotes and we've listed them below for quick access.


We hope you enjoyed the coverage and the show. We certainly did! Already looking forward to next year! 



Opening Keynote: The Reinvention of Marketing - Session Description | Liveblog

Leveraging analytics data for large-scale ad optimization - Session Description | Liveblog

Can your customers find you? Search optimization and inbound content marketing - Session Description | Liveblog

Data storytelling: Turning insights into action - Session Description | Liveblog


Day 2 Keynote: The Reinvention of Marketers - Session Description | Liveblog (featuring Robert Redford, Richard Sherman and more.)

Thinking Small:A panel on making big data actionable - Liveblog


Reimagining Digital Marketing for Financial Services - Session Description | Liveblog

Transform your digital strategy with always-on optimization - Session Description | Liveblog

Leveraging real time messaging and offers in email campaigns - Session Description | Liveblog

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Leveraging real-time messaging and offers in email campaigns

Posted by Team Trueffect on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 03:30 PM


Patrick Tripp and Stephane Bline, both from Adobe, are the presenters for this post lunch session.

Patrick starts us off with a question: What do we mean by real-time marketing?

Example time: Super Bowl XLVII BLACKOUT. Famously, Oreo created “You can still dunk in the dark” by pulling together a war room and coming up with the ad during those 33 minutes of darkness. It was a huge real-time marketing success.

But that’s only scratching the surface.

Consider transactional messaging and real-time offer management

Drive Marketing effectiveness, cross-sell, upsell and gain loyalty.

The pillars of RTM: Speed and agility, one to one personalization, cross-channel optimization

Marketers say that RTM is highly important in these channels:

  • Email

  • Cross channels

  • Mobile

  • Call center

Why aren’t people doing more realtime what are the challenges?

  • Complexity of systems 50%

  • Access to real time data 46%

  • Data privacy issues 45%

  • Training required 39%

  • Hiring appropriate staff 37%

  • Change management 35%

  • Data governance. 25%

RTM in email can drive huge returns for business.

Transactional messaging + real time offer management

A transactional message often looks like your typical order confirmation email. They have various purposes, order confirmation, shipping notifications, delivery confirmation, registration confirmations and password resets. Those are all things we want immediately.

Key requirements:

  • Receives and processes events from IT systems

  • Uses predefined templates in place, allowing marketers to alter or add messages

  • Guaranteed 24/7 distribution and optimized deliverability

  • Manages cross-channel escalation – an email that goes unanswered can trigger an SMS

  • Boasts powerful reporting tools case study: 6m marketing messages a day, 5m transactional messages per day

99% deliverability


Real-time offer management                 

Key requirements

  • Cross-channel offer catalogue

  • Personalized experience from anonymous to identified. Dynamically done

  • Easy to manage business rules: which offers, to whom, in what order if more than one applies. In a transparent to the marketer fashion.

  • Full marketing control.

How it works for Adobe:

Contact point (many channels) >Engine call > offers found > rules applied > results written back to the engine and offer delivered.

Yves Rocher case study: 6 channels of outreach, multiple types of messages.

Combining messaging with management

Transactional messages have up to a seven times higher click through rate than regular marketing emails. This makes it a fertile ground for cross-sell, up-sell opportunities. ROI is 3 to 6x greater.

Patrick quickly shows examples of case studies.

Stephane Bline will be doing a live demo of Adobe Campaign. Fingers crossed it works. Those haven’t gone well this conference.

It all goes very well. Hurrah for live demos.

Patrick takes over again and now we’re going to talk about assessing your campaign maturity. for self-assessment. Benchmark against other industries, set goals, get automated reports with recommendations. It’s a living document.

That’s all! Thanks so much for reading along and thanks to Patrick and Stephane for a great session.

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Transform Your Digital Strategy with Always-on Optimization

Posted by Team Trueffect on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 12:36 PM


(Read on: we'll explain this below)

Our next session has the best set up yet. No idea why it’s a one-act play set today but it’s great and our panelists will look dashing in it. Speaking of, our cast today is: Kevin Lindsay - Director Product Marketing, Adobe and Sai Koppaka - DVP, Customer Analytics, Sears Holdings Corporation

Things used to be so simple: 50s family picture. Black and white.

We were captive to brands in the old days. We were very loyal. Most brands and retailers did not have to do much to keep the attention of their customers. Now, customers have no tolerance for non-personalized experiences.

Let customers drive their experience…or else! People have short attention spans these days. You have to capture them and start moving them through or you’re already lost.

Today’s agenda:

1. Content is king, but context is holy.

2. Relevance: the pursuit of personalization

3. Where’s the money (on your site)?

4. What you can do in digital that you can’t (easily) in 200k sq ft

5. Why personalization means being always on. (not just open for business, but more than that.)


Content that creates an emotional reaction is key. Sometimes what gets in the way of personalization is a lack of content.

What does it take to be relevant? Content + context = relevance

What you have to deliver or show to the customer + what you know about the customer = connect the two and figure out quickly what resonates and what doesn’t.

Is there such a thing as too much relevance? The audience says yes. Kevin disagrees. [but you totally can get creepy. It’s just that creepy is no longer relevant.]

Your customer base is diverse. But if you have a million people coming to your site, do you know all of them pretty well? There’s a guy in the front row who thinks he does. He also knows that it takes 11 days to count to one million.

Aside from that guy, most of us don’t know. It’s hard to know a million visitors. So you have to ask yourself how you can find out more about them.

Why optimize for those people? Learn the money pages and how they affect the overall conversion experience and the brand loyalty.

Think carefully about what you put on the page – can you really predict what your 10 million visitors are going to see? Is it working for you?

Optimization: Automate, personalize, optimize against revenue goals

Choose the right experience for where the customer is.

Let the customer’s clicks determine what they see.

Data + Content comes together for real-time personalization. To prove that point, we’re going to hear from Sai.

Sai thinks we all deserve fitbits for getting up this early after last night’s concert. Hee.

Sai visited a Sears store when he first started working there. He was shopping for a gift for a seven year old kid. But he had to walk through a ton of unrelated departments to get there. That’s the constraint of brick and mortar but it doesn’t have to be the online experience. They used to build the homepage like the store. A homepage with everything on it, cluttered and represented by every department. Not personalized, just a one size fits all approach.

Now they machine curate by season, by theme. They localize by showing relevant data for the zip if they can determine it (i.e. snow clearing equipment for northern states suffering blizzards.)

Recognition is not necessarily identification. But what you know about a client can be used to personalize their experience – if they bought a snow shovel, they may have a yard. Remember to balance it against the creep factor.

The new marketer is able to focus less on what should be on the home page and more with curating high value content and offer creation. It cuts down on low value work.

Let the data decide (and avoid politics!)


They’re trying to move away from a merchant and product goals and toward a whole house goal. Get the customer to the right product as quickly as possible.

What works?

  • Relevance works. We see life in surfacing more relevant content

  • Customers are able to find relevant products more quickly… and purchase.


Next Steps:

  1. There are so many combinations of offers, content and rules that they don’t know what it is that’s actually working. They need big data analysts. So if you need a job…

  2. Need to incorporate cross-platform behavior: store to web to mobile to get the same message across all platforms.

  3. Use this data to drive a continuous feedback loop.


Now back to Kevin

Key takeaways:

  • Be relevant. Your customers are not captive audiences.

  • Where’s the money? Identify and optimize.

  • Constantly adapt. Listen with data. Respond with content experiences. Always on.

Sai adds that Sears is not trying to be everything to everyone anymore. That used to be how they worked but now they’re cutting down and focusing.

Kevin asks how Sai got to the point where Sears could be person instead of product focused. Because it could be a controversial statement. Sai explains that they did it in small chunks. They started with 5% of the organization in order to prove the wins.

Sears is platform agnostic. They don’t care where you buy, they want the experience to be seamless.

Time for questions:

Did always on optimization replace standard a/b testing? Do they butt heads?

They don’t butt heads if you plan ahead. Our always on optimization is an a/b test. They always want the curated version out there in some way to ensure the machine is always moving forward

What’s a good litmus test for creepy?

Customers speak up. They react quickly. Sears uses tools to keep tabs on the customer voice and react to their concerns.

How do you decide what the rules are?

By making it data-driven.

How do you balance cross-sell, upsell with getting the customer to the product quickly?

By getting them to the product fast. THEN cross-sell, upsell. Don’t distract them before they get to the product.

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Reimagining Digital Marketing for Financial Services

Posted by Team Trueffect on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 11:06 AM



Good morning and welcome to the final day of Adobe Summit. Last night, everyone partied the night away and we detect the tiniest bit of sluggishness among our fellow attendees. But you know who is up and ready to go? Our panelists.

Can’t tell the players without a program, so here’s the lineup:

Christopher Young - Director of Industry Strategy & Marketing, Adobe

Deepak Nair - Head of Digital Intelligence, US Bank

Farrell Hudzik - Managing Director, Accenture Digital

Nicole Sturgill - Research Director, Retail Banking at CEB TowerGroup, CEB TowerGroup

This session is case study focused. Usually, not something that translates as well via liveblog but we’ll be looking for actionable insights to pass along. We have faith in our experts.


Christopher Young opens the session with a quick intro. The goal of today is Reimagining Marketing in a Digital Age

Hallmarks of that: multichannel analytics, single view of the customer

Challenges in the financial industry

  1. Compliance

  2. Data Security and Privacy

  3. Difficulty personalizing customer experiences

  4. Fragmented Data

  5. Incompatible marketing solutions.

The first two are immovable but the last three can be solved.

Top down view of the industry:

  1. CEB will be giving perspective on industry and technology trends

  2. Accenture will be helping understand what is transforming the financial services industry

  3. US Bank will be telling the story of their journey to marketing maturity.

Key Takeaways:

  • You’re only as good as your analytics

  • To improve the experience, you must understand your customer.

  • Don’t go it alone, align the right internal partners.

Nicole Sturgill is our first speaker.

Priorities for upcoming technology capabilities reflect key business drivers:

Developing a single view of the customer through integrated data – 79% feel this is important, 32% confident they can do it

Deliver a cost-effective customer experience across all channels – 74%, 23% confident

Manage and organize data for actionable business analytics and decision making – 66%, 30%


Consumer survey:

Consumers want to learn and access using digital channels but purchases and new accounts are still preferred in person.

Priority when choosing a provider: 45% quality products fulfilling a variety of functions, 55% product tailored to a specific need.

You get that feeling when you walk into a branch and talk to a person. How do we take that feeling of a product being tailored into digital channels?

Customer communications happen in a huge number of ways and knowing what a customer prefers can be difficult.

Customers want better communications and they’re getting ads at the same time they’re trying to deal with a problem. Not a good customer experience but hard to turn off.

Analysis and integration are top priorities.

What data needs to be integrated? Multisource makes for better insight. Financial services especially have so much data. It’s down to transactional data, social chatter, call center recording, branch contact knowledge.

88% of bank users are social users. But less than half have talked to their bank using social media.

You have to use your vast information to connect with your customer. Without being creepy.

Right now, all the streams are very siloed. That leads to ambiguous data and anticipated results.

What is the greatest driver of the propensity to buy: it’s how they feel about their financial situation. But how do we find that information out? You have to start taking information and starting to build a story about that consumer.

Multisource allowed for contextualized insights, actionable intelligence, unexpected discoveries, extended value base.

And that’s it from Nicole. Great job.

Poll time. Not taking this one, being just a fly on the wall observer.

Farrell Hudzik is our next speaker. She has great shoes.

When we think about all of the things that analytics and data bring to bear and enable from a customer experience perspective. What are we designing for?

She gives several interesting examples of how a Finnish bank is doing things. The basic gist is looking at an interactive layer that makes people more comfortable, embracing peer to peer and external services like Foursquare that add value.

Interesting opportunities: What if the financial company could negotiate a car sale for you?

Accenture was founded in 2001 but they’ve really grown hugely in the last three months. From 6000 to 23000. They’ve made that growth transparent to the customers.

You need to design for love. You start with the matchmaking perspective – the aha moment of attraction. But what you want is the wow moments of a long term true love, not the stagnant “of course” mentality.

That’s all from Farrell. It’s time for another poll. What stage are you in your journey to digital transformation. Looks like most people feel they’re just getting started.

The last speaker is Deepak Nair. Deepak has style, y’all. Love the subtle plaid in the suit.

Think different about technology. It’s maturing and evolving. Need to learn from companies like Facebook. Businesses are looking to be empowered. To help them, it’s important to understand the customers, know what tools/data they have, and what their impact is in their organization.

Companies are told they need a website. Then they have the website and now they have to spend money on Marketing, SEO [recapper note: don’t wait until the site is built to start your SEO] etc.

Businesses are starting to skip that and instead maybe just make a Facebook page and run it from there.

US Bank strives to be an industry leader and innovator in digital marketing and utilization of big data. They’re challenged by lack of data integration, the need for a comprehensive view of the customer journey and more.

Getting started on addressing those challenges, they wanted everything. All the data. But it’s overwhelming to start there. You need to start with education. What you need. What the tool does and how to get the data you need from it. That takes time.


You need to analyze, identify the problem, find the cause and the next steps.

After that, it’s about identifying opportunities, internal partners and planning communication and education.

That leads, hopefully, to innovation. Personalization for the customer

Goals: Improving data quality by:

  • Building rich analytics platform to combine online and offline data.

  • Creating a foundation testing and learning mindset

  • Innovate to solve business problems and increase efficiency and ROI from tools

Your campaigns are only as good as your data/analytics. – Knowing what the customer is doing, what they’re interested in should guide the campaigns. Tailor the experience to what they’re looking for. If they’re coming from Google, tailor to the query that brought them to your site.

The right leadership and organizational alignment is critical. Align resources, ask questions and educate, identify leaders.

Quick wrap-up, recap from Deepak and then he’s done. Awesome stuff. Christopher brings it all together and then it’s over. This was a great session.

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Thinking small: A panel on making big data actionable

Posted by Team Trueffect on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 @ 05:11 PM


Taking a left turn from the schedule, we’ve landed in a thought leadership panel. Our leaders: Michael Halbrook - Consulting Manger, Adobe, Jonathan Watts - Director of Strategy & Analytics, Ticketmaster, Ashish Braganza - Director, Global Business Intelligence, Lenovo, and Scott Liewehr - President, Principal Analyst, Digital Clarity Group.

Hey, they’re giving out Skittles! Best session ever. And a free white paper. That’s delicious for the brain instead of the mouth but we’ll take it. Just like we will take the Skittles of anyone in here that doesn’t want them. And any that get left on the chairs.

Michael Halbrook promises to amaze us. Excellent.

We begin with a “man on the street” video of attendees: “What is big data?” And no one seems to know what it is. I love it. The Adobe guys in the video just laugh when asked. They do try to answer it. Sort of. Hee.

“Big data is a state of mind.” Quote of the video.

Good answers from an MGM employee in the video.

What is big data? “It’s data. That’s really big.” According to Brad Rencher.

The volume of business data worldwide is expected to grow 1.3 times every year.

Five steps to get value from big data: Ingest, distill, curate, syndicate, optimize

Ingest: Get it in.

Distill: put it through processes to get

Curate: put into curable



Skittles make sense as an analogy to him. He always sorts his Skittles by color and eats them by preference. We are soul twins. He even eats them in the right order. (Green, yellow, orange, purple/red)

The lure of big data will catch many exec in a mass of both useful and useless data.

Shape your own future, define your needs.

Consider immediacy.

Make it simple smart responsive and social

Take the action. Drive smarter testing and decisions

Ashish is up first on the panel. Today is his birthday! Happy birthday!


The canned response: Big data involves volume, variety, velocity, veracity – big, unstructured, coming in fast, and good quality. Master the four Vs and you’re doing big data.

Jonathan doesn’t used the words big data a lot. When you try to cobble together data from many different sets and your processes and tech power isn’t up to the task, that’s big data to him.

Scott: Up until a year ago, he hated the term big data. He’s been dealing with it for 10 years. He’s not sure that all that many people are actually talking about big data. Big data might not meet the strict definition…but it’s still in the spirit.

Jonathan: Taking on a narrow slice of BD –

Three step process:

  1. Decide what’s important and what you can test

  2. Create and test a hypothesis using “medium sized” data – doesn’t have to be perfect. Use available data, don’t wait.

  3. Build a production “big data” solution.

Example: Step 1: things like I’d like to know as the CEO of Live Nation

Who is the next smash hit?

What’s going to be popular in five years?

Who is the next major competitor?

How many tickets will a band sell?

For the last question above:

Decide what’s important and what you can test

Going to sell out anyway – U2

Long Tail – hard to market, use discounts and email

The middle – what you need to market

Create and test a hypothesis using “medium sized” data – doesn’t have to be perfect. Use available data, don’t wait.

Figure out what indicates that answer to the question you’re asking: ticket price, visits 1 month from sale, Win/loss record


Build a production “big data” solution.

Build the really big model.


Scott thinks that most people don’t know where to start. Start where you’re already doing things already. Then look at how you can do it better, what data can help me do it better? How can I use data to validate my assumptions?

All of this hearkens back to the people and process discussion from this morning’s keynote. The process takes time to get ready. Figure out what you’re doing well and use data to improve that.

Step three: Make it Simple, Smart, Responsive and Social

[Another video.]

Ashish takes over: How many people have heard of the word “Hadoop”?

Google wanted to index the entire web and their servers kept crashing. Everyone tried to sell people on faster process. Google instead built distributed file processing. It’s a simple file storage system where you don’t need high end processing machines, you just need more machines.

Hadoop is the project that produced Google File System.

How do you get an abstract concept like big data to a CMO.

So we claim Lenovo is doing it too… [Laughter]

LUCI sky is Lenovo’s big data platform. It lives in the amazon cloud.

Big data is an elastic ecosystem of multiple technologies. They went through a maturity curve in building their big data.

Lenovo big data driven segmentation


Media optimizer is their DMP.

Business questions: What tuypes of visitors are coming to my site?

What attributes define these types?

How can I optimize content around those different types?

They found four types of clusters among the people coming to the site: High value, researchers, curious investigators, low value. Using that data, they can target each cluster properly.

Used logistic regression: likelihood of purchase

OVP purchase accessories

Social referrers are more likely to purchase. Organic converts higher than paid. [Raise your hand if you’re surprised.]

Shiny fluffy dashboard for the CMO. It’s…brightly colored. Yep. Covers many things and is updated every 15 minutes. Very nice.

The hardest thing is the people. Technology is easy. Process and people is the hardest part. Getting the skillsets and moving the organization along.

Scott is up next

Everyone is trying to do big data but they have no idea or tactical strategy on how to do it. Employees as consumers are seeing how data can be used in small ways.

There’s a lot of hype about “marketers all need to be data analysts.” No you don’t.

Analysts get it to the 50 yard line. Marketers take it the rest of the way.

It starts with marketing, in general it’s a good place to begin.

Small data: “Timely meaningful insights derived from bid data, organized and packaged to be accessible, understandable and actionable for everyday tasks.”

Value is the small data focus. (call it the fifth V)

A fresh look at big data can

  • Reinvent the role of IT

  • Boost adoption, thus ROI (smaller data invites creativity)

  • Enable business apps and initiatives

Immediacy is the confluence of action and data.

Small data manifesto:

Make it simple – how do we just help the business do what the business does now and make it a little better

Make it smart – contextual and driving insights

Be responsive

Be social – That’s not necessarily meaning twitter. It means available to the organization. Your whole culture needs to adopt the decision making mode.

Big data allows you to pull up and use data that you didn’t necessarily create with the intention of using in that way.

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