With over a decade playing with data, Mime Analytics, shares its advice on how brands can best assemble, and draw insights from, their data.
How long has Mime been playing in the data space?
We’ve been running now for over a decade. In our previous roles as marketing and media directors, a key challenge had always been proving that our media strategies were delivering against business objectives. When we started our sister company Media Co in 2009, we knew one core offering our clients should have was clear performance analytics, and so Mime was born.
What sets Mime apart from the rest of the market? Isn’t everyone putting their own spin on the same problem?
When we began there were very few other data analytics offerings in this space, but since then the market has rapidly developed. However, what we still find is that most analytics offerings focus on single data points. Our emphasis is, and has always been, on providing a solution that pulls all elements of the media mix together, and in a live environment, to truly understand the market.
We also have a technology solution sitting in the background for a range of our clients that allows them to understand many of these performance outcomes live through our cloud-served analytics reporting tools. Key to this is our ability to automate data delivery from dozens of different sources concurrently, cleaning it, and delivering it up in one place.
We understand you are doing a lot of work with clients in Europe. Can you give us some insight into how these markets are applying data insights to better inform their media plans?
We’ve worked in over 20 countries and across four continents now which has given us a unique view of consumer patterns and behavioural responses to the different media strategies we’ve seen.
High-level observations are that the use of data analytics in the marketing space is far more ingrained internationally than it is in New Zealand. New Zealand companies often suffer from the “she’ll be right, stitch it together” attitude, but we are now seeing that slowly change as data challenges create increasingly complex problems for businesses to solve.
There’s a more accepting culture of bringing in external expertise among European and North American companies than there is here, and that’s typical to their competitive advantage. These companies develop and implement more sophisticated, targeted advertising campaigns as a result, with highly measurable outcomes across all segments of the media mix – both online and offline.
Is this capability available in the NZ market, or do we struggle because we don’t have the scale or volume?
Yes, absolutely the capability is here (from our Parnell office for starters!). With regards to scale, there is a need for volume to benefit from the investment needed to deploy the analytics and software platforms. However, starting simply and building out from there always yields good results. We work with a range of clients, from local to global multinationals, so it’s always best to have an initial exploratory conversation, rather than assume that an insights-led approach to advertising and marketing is beyond reach.
What challenges do you face with different media types when it comes to analysing and aligning with your client’s data? Surely digital media should be the easiest to measure and report on?
We often run into the statement “I’m doing more digital because I can measure it”. This assumes two things:
Above-the-line media impact can’t be measured, and digital metrics are an accurate representation of campaign performance.
The truth is that the old favourites – TV and radio – can absolutely have their contribution measured against critical customer response metrics and strategic campaign objectives. In fact, we find that almost universally these media still do the heavy lifting when it comes to delivering volume uplift for clients.
There’s no question that digital investment, be it through a display, social and community engagement, or as a receptor of customer behaviour through Search (AdWords, SEO and UX) has a vital role to play. In our experience though there are many false leads that advertisers need to be aware of in existing digital ‘metrics’. However, when it’s well-managed, measured and appropriately deployed, digital investment is a must now for almost every organisation.
Do you think there is a massive benefit being able to report on live/same day information, or is it just as valuable to get this information after the fact?
Certain media are more easily adjusted to meet dynamic changes in the market. Obviously, digital is a highly adaptable environment, and at least in the New Zealand context, radio is too. With that level of flexibility, having access to current performance data allows a business to rapidly flex its strategy and take advantage of the market. Some find the ‘live’ approach invaluable, for others, daily data is more than sufficient – it depends on the nature of the business.
Here’s a simple analogy – a post-match review of performance is really useful for next time on the field but being able to understand performance in the middle of the game and adapt strategies as needed to win now is even more valuable.
For a business who are experts in extracting value from consumer data, what are your thoughts on growing privacy concerns and this is becoming too invasive?
The analytics and insights we deliver don’t require any personal information, but of course, we’re aware of the swing towards one-to-one marketing and the supposition of creating a relationship with individual customers.
It’s also fair to say consumers are starting to resist this approach more and more. Data breaches from trusted brands (and we’ve recently had them here), and the wholesale selling of personal data by digital leaders (count Facebook and YouTube amongst them) have seen governments start to intervene, and the EU’s response through GDPR legislation is a leading example of this.
This resistance is highly likely to grow further so it’s important marketers continue to realise the potential of non-personalised behaviour if they want to remain relevant and trusted as brands because privacy and data security are non-negotiable.
Do you think there are too many data points a business can analyse where they get to a point it becomes harmful? How much data is too much data?
That’s the Big Data argument, and yes there’s always the risk of ‘analysis paralysis’. What we’ve found is that the truth a business needs to learn very typically lives in the unstructured, day-to-day reports and data sets they already have. It’s the unlocking of the ‘small data’ and then making the correct analysis of it that they find very challenging.
How do you demonstrate value to clients when they are challenging you on this and whether they should be spending as much on advertising as they used to?
At the simplest level, the purpose of advertising is to stimulate some sort of change – whether that’s in sales, in brand engagement and long-term profitability amongst many. And ideally, that change is growth!
Our job is to quantify that change by unlocking the value advertising investment creates. This starts by understanding what the expected performance of the business would have looked like if they hadn’t advertised; their baseline performance. From there we can derive what contribution to growth each segment of the media mix is delivering and the value each is creating.
From there the value we’ve created is usually very clear, as is the opportunity for growth and improvement over time. We typically deliver a seven- to 10-times return on the investment made in us.
What advice would you give a business who wants to use their customer data more effectively but either don’t know how, or don’t believe the benefits are worth the investment?
Clients usually have everything they need on-hand, so our advice is simple – just get started, and get started before your competitors do! Yes, the data may be tough to assemble but it’s our job to simplify that process with the proprietary data aggregation tools we have to make it easy for our clients. And start simply, perhaps with an initial study or line of research, and expand analysis from there.