The potential of data-driven marketing has teased marketers for several years without that promise ever being delivered but that’s all set to change in 2019, according to Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer.

Keith Weed told the recent CES event that while some large companies are able to highlight “pockets” of data-driven marketing that have proved successful for their brands, most have not applied such an approach in a broad enough fashion as yet.

But after all the talking, “this is the year, I really believe, that data-driven marketing is actually going to deliver at scale,” he said. “I think it actually is going to play out.” (For more, read WARC’s report: Unilever’s Weed identifies tipping point for data-driven marketing.)

Unilever has spent the past few years constructing a first-party dataset containing one billion people, as part of its ambition to transform itself from a firm relying on mass reach into a data-driven enterprise able to communicate on a truly one-to-one basis.

“Of course, [we] love second- and third-party data,” Weed added. “We invest a huge amount in that. But if we can combine that with our first-party data as well, I think we can create a very different conversation with consumers and … serve them better.”

It’s a win-win formula, he suggested: “As businesses, we all win, because we find more efficient ways to deliver our products and services to people. And, as consumers … if you can be getting something more relevant, something that you want, that is better.

“And if you are not being given things that you don’t want, that’s great as well.”

Unilever’s brands currently serve 2.5 billion people each day – and a blend of agile marketing and unwavering trustworthiness will be essential in serving the future needs of this massive customer base, said Weed.

Alongside trust – and associated considerations around data privacy – he also highlighted the role that will be played by AI and blockchain technology in handling and protecting data in the future.

Sourced from WARC