Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Cut the fluff: how marketers can be taken seriously in the boardroom / Marcus Harper,Quantcast

Boardrooms continue to slash marketing budgets when the going gets tough, and commercial teams still mistrust marketing communications as being “fluffy.”

However smart organisations are fast acknowledging that investment in digital data is integral to increasing sales, says Quantcast’s recently appointed Head of International Client Development, Marcus Harper.

A few years ago, when I first started working for a car manufacturer I accepted that our cars were marketed at consumers through TV and radio because that’s where the buyers were. Why else would you spend millions of pounds on prime-time spots, extolling the family virtues of the marque or targeting the aspirations of the self-made professional that wants a status car?

As time went by, I became more and more concerned about the lengths that the car industry would go to in order to achieve the scale it required. The first issue was the vast expense of keeping our share of voice in ad breaks on TV. Then there was no measurement of whether our brand touched people who were actually in the market to buy a car. The harsh reality was that it wasn’t completely working, for us or for anybody, which is why there were a significant amount of cars unsold.

This situation is far from unique to the automotive industry. The challenge for all marketing departments is to grow the business. When marketing efforts are perceived to make little impact on the bottom line, it is no surprise they get cut when a financial quarter is behind plan.

Investing in technology to make marketing progress more accessible and quantifiable will allow boards to see how their investments are working. Brands will meet the new reality of fragmented buyers and sales channels head-on, and profit potential will increase; it wouldn’t be just a return on ad spend as this new marketing strategy will find more genuine consumers who are in the market for the product.

When I worked for Yahoo, I learned just how valuable data could be. We built tools, which allowed marketers of consumer goods to target actual buyers across Yahoo. An important part of this process was the ability to track the campaign impact on actual sales. Back then, this approach was relatively expensive, manual and relied on a third party. This is why I was attracted to working for a company like Quantcast that does this at scale and in real time. At @Quantcast we give brands insights into their actual customers in real time.

While the technology problem has been solved, I’m convinced that our real challenge is still at the boardroom level. We must help business leaders appreciate how much digital data exists, but even more importantly how it can be harnessed and exploited to achieve their business goals.

The real challenge lies in the boardroom- we must help business leaders appreciate how much digital data exists and how it can be harnessed and utilized to achieve their business goals.

Perhaps part of the issue is that there is too much jargon within the industry; big data should be described simply as information that can be engineered to allow sales and marketing directors to build an additional layer to their sales team…a digital prospecting tool that is quantifiable and integral to their sales funnel and will serve the entire business and work toward the major KPIs.

Quantcast spent years building its measurement product with virtually no associated revenue and, as a result, is currently analysing more than 100 million websites. Having a footprint across the entire web at such scale means Quantcast is able to view almost every unique user, not just once but between 400 and 900 times per month, depending on the market.

I believe that impact marketing and advertising should never go unquantified. The marketing business needs to align with CFOs and boardrooms, help them get to grips with data and move brand marketing activity away from the vague and fluffy and bring it closer to being a discipline that produces real, measurable, commercial results.



About Quantcast:

Quantcast is a digital advertising company specialising in audience measurement and real-time advertising. As the pioneer of direct audience measurement in 2006, Quantcast now has the most in-depth understanding of digital audiences across the Web, allowing marketers and publishers to make the smartest choices as they buy and sell the most effective targeted advertising on the market. More than 1,000 brands rely on Quantcast for real-time advertising.

As the leader in big data for the digital advertising industry, Quantcast directly measures more than 100 million Web destinations, incorporates more than one trillion new data records every month, and continuously processes as much as 30 petabytes of data every day. Quantcast is headquartered in San Francisco and backed by Founders Fund, Polaris Venture Partners, Revolution Ventures, and Cisco Systems. For more information, visit