PHD’s Amelia Ward reflects on award-winning media campaigns from Singapore Airlines, Direct Line Group and O2.

For years, we have been successfully benefiting from utilising first-, second-, and third-party data to enhance media campaigns’ targeting capabilities. But with the imminent deprecation of the third-party cookie, it is time to double down on our efforts to understand how to use relevant data in a privacy-compliant way.

The recent 2020 WARC Media Awards’ Best Use of Data category illustrated the payback advertisers can reap by applying data holistically, responsibly, and with innovation at the core.

Real-time data unlocks consumer insights

Singapore Airlines, winner of the Gold and Personalisation Award for its ‘Strategy taking flight’ entry, utilised real-time data signals to unlock revenue gains across their lapsed customer base and identify new prospects.

The highlight in this campaign was their use of market clustering across 32 countries to better understand brand consideration, overlaid with market share, to create unique customer archetypes. By enabling these centralised global segments, implemented through a customised local approach, the team were able to balance budget allocation with local route demand in real time.

The use of data in this case highlights the importance of a deep understanding of customer attributes, across a broad data set if available, to deliver campaign performance.

First-party data allows for value-based approach

This theme of unlocking audience insights to deliver campaign success was common among many entries, with Direct Line’s ‘Lifetime Value’ campaign a prime example.

The British insurer won the Gold and Attribution Award by integrating customer lifetime value calculations into its bidding strategies across search activity. By understanding the lifetime value of their customers, the advertiser could then create segments based on value. Connecting this via a direct API into the bidding system, it could disregard costly drivers and only bid on those likely to return a profit.

Direct Line was able to apply insights from their first-party data across search and move towards a value-based system rather than a volume-based one. The connection of such a valuable data profile directly into the bidding strategy, or campaign pipeline, is the goal for many a marketer and this campaign is a highlight among the high-calibre entries.

Second-party data enables hyper-relevant targeting

We also saw a number of robust entries using data to unlock new targeting opportunities, such as O2’s ‘Using data, empathy and out of home to sell international SIMs’ winning a Gold award.

The telco delivered relevant OOH brand messaging to selected expatriate audiences, with the goal of driving ‘disproportionate impact’ in a cluttered market. The campaign used heatmap location and time-zone data to dynamically optimise the digital OOH messaging in core locations and drive sales lift.

The ability to action precision targeting with a complex messaging matrix, at postcode level, is a solid example of data-enabled messaging at scale. The methodology used was clear and direct, and enabled the use of second-party data to inform the OOH strategy and implementation.

Clarity, responsibility and innovation

The key takeout from the Best Use of Data entries was around having a clear strategy and methodology across the various use cases. The best entries were those that set a decisive learning agenda and followed through with clear outcomes and lessons learned. Innovation itself can sometimes come from doing the basics well and considering a holistic view of business objectives and available data.

Another element to consider is understanding how to unlock the potential of first-party data, with consumer privacy as default. The consumer landscape is in constant flux, and when overlaying that with changes in technology and measurement, the goal for marketers is to ensure the successful application of relevant data or insights, in a way that is consumer- and privacy-focused. This is key to unlocking new audiences and prospects, as illustrated in the Direct Line entry.

Understanding your customer is the most valuable tool you have, and applying relevant data allows you to unlock the potential for any marketing campaigns that you can run digitally or programmatically. A focus on first-party data will also contribute to mitigating the impact of limitations to cookie and IDFA tracking in the digital marketplace. Expect to see innovation as a core theme in future entries and award winners.