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How Personalisation is Changing the Rules of Engagement Analyse your own data to understand how your audience engages and shops for your product or service, and work with strategic partners to help fill the gaps

By Wendy Olson Killion

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Every brand has a story. Breaking through with that story in today's content-heavy world and creating meaningful experiences with consumers may seem impossible at times. But, with data, it's a challenge that marketers will face. Data has become critical in all aspects of business – from strategy to creative development to the personalised experiences companies deliver to the consumer, for measurement and reporting.

Planning a purchase – whether for a product, service or experience – is often a highly emotional process, resulting in a highly considered, highly researched purchase. A lot of time is spent with online content across a variety of platforms and devices, resulting in a complex research and consideration phases. It also means there is great opportunity to inspire and influence consumers along the way, if marketers can appeal to both the head and heart. Consumers want to be the directors of their story, finding their own inspiration across platforms and resources they trust. With smart, actionable data, marketers can put the power back in the hands of consumers, allowing them to have a more authentic voice throughout the shopping journey, and make personalised decisions based on their preferences, attitudes and more.

To do this, it's imperative that marketers know their audience, and they can start by turning to data. Analyse your own data to understand how your audience engages and shops for your product or service, and work with strategic partners to help fill the gaps. Couple those insights with industry data and research to further understand the how and why of consumer purchase decisions. Then, test the strategy and creatives with real shoppers – through focus groups or other means – to understand what resonates and drives behaviours. Insights from these myriad data sources can change the way marketers view creativity; this along with the role of data in strategy and execution, reveals a significant opportunity to create meaningful engagement with consumers.

One way to do this is to lead with the creative element, followed by using data to confirm your hypothesis. This is where the real magic happens so that smart marketers can reach the right consumer, at the right time, with the right creative message, and on the right platform. Advertising should always add value to the consumer experience, and digital advertising enables companies to do this in a variety of ways.

In addition to using a range of smart, actionable insights in your company's storytelling strategy, building feedback loops into your campaigns is just as important. Technology-driven personalisation creates an amazing data feedback loop, and when done correctly, is organic to the campaign and audience engagement.

While there may always be voices within the creative industry that see an ever-increasing influence of data on the marketing and advertising industry as negative, that it somehow diminishes creativity or sanitises the business of cool, innovative advertising. At the end of the day, data – and thereby personalisation – must be there to make the consumer experience better and get to the heart of their emotion.

Wendy Olson Killion

Vice President (business development), Expedia Group Media Solutions


Wendy is a vice president of business development at Expedia Group Media Solutions where she oversees business development and marketing partner relations, leading teams around the world in the creation and implementation of innovative digital media campaigns across the portfolio of Expedia Group travel brands.

She previously directed global product development and marketing for the entire suite of advertising products, including display, email, social and mobile solutions. Before joining Expedia Group, Wendy led product management of the emerging channels and brands at Cars.com, including their mobile offerings.

Wendy also previously spent five years at J.D. Power and Associates where she managed a suite of publications aimed at defining automotive marketing online for OEMs and automotive dealers, and co-founded the Automotive Marketing Roundtable conference. Wendy is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and lives in Seattle, Washington with her family.


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