Ahead of Microsoft’s various appearances and wrap party at Advertising Week Europe, the senior manager of thought leadership at the US-based corporation, Ivy Esquero spoke with PerformanceIN about an issue which has crept up on the industry of late: too much data.

As part of the Global Consumers Insights team, Ivy looks at consumer behaviour and assesses the best ways of engaging with people as they navigate the digital landscape.

Understanding consumer behaviour and gaining a transparent view of each customer are key goals for marketers and advertisers who are continuingly trialing new solutions in our multiscreen age.

However, there is a risk that companies are collecting vast amounts of data without effectively acting upon the findings, and many are claiming they feel overwhelmed by the amount available to them.

Connecting the dots

A report from research and analysis company Econsultancy and omni-channel and tag management outfit Ensighten found that 62% of marketers feel “overwhelmed” by the volume of information they have coming in.

“The biggest problem is that companies are getting a lot of data without necessarily gaining a lot of insights,” says Ivy. “It’s up to the marketer to connect the dots, but just the sheer volume of information can be a hindrance.”

The Econsultancy and Ensighten report also found that an alarming 85% of companies are unable to fully utilise the information available to them, with a mere 3% claiming to have a “strong capability” in using cross-channel or cross-device data.

Ivy states that focusing on consumers and starting with their needs is the key to successful targeting, as this can guide advertisers and marketers to the most effective approaches.  

“Consumer behaviours may change, but consumer needs and motivations are much more universal,” she says.

“A few years ago, everyone was buzzing about tablets. This year, it’s all about the wearable.  What we see however, is that they fulfil different needs for consumers.

“Keeping those needs in mind, marketers can better align the right campaign to the right platform. By layering in the consumer motivations atop the behaviours, advertisers have a much richer set of insights to take action against.”

Great expectations

Undoubtedly marketers and advertisers have been faced with further issues as multi-device usage becomes the norm. With the explosion of new technology and platforms, many are confronted with complex challenges in not only collecting the right data, but using it effectively.  

“The challenge for advertisers is in finding the right platforms to tell their stories in moments that consumers want them to engage. And to augment this complexity, consumer behavior is hard to pin down,” says Ivy.

“It has been very interesting to see the proliferation of devices and how consumers have quickly gone from relying on single screens to now moving across multiple screens as the norm,” she adds.

However, as the technology develops, expectations around digital experiences have also evolved.

While consumers are more connected to the world around them, says Ivy, they are also starting to demand more curation from brands and technology in order to help de-clutter their digital experiences.

“Consumers want a seamless experience across their screens where they see the right content on the right device at the right time,” she adds.

Appeasing customers

Econsultancy research analyst Bola Awoniyi observed that there is little room for mistakes or poor customer engagement with the resources available.

“We have entered a new era of marketing, with data and marketing technology now affording unprecedented opportunities for developing a more customer-centric approach.

“Focusing on developing customer experiences can create a more loyal and engaged customer base which is an extremely valuable competitive advantage in today’s fast-paced commercial environment.”

Ultimately, marketers must ensure they are collecting relevant data and utilising it to its full potential with the core aim of appeasing customer expectations and needs.

Ivy believes that alterations within company structures and putting the consumer at the heart of strategies can work towards creating sound customer service and gaining valuable insights into their behaviours in an ever-changing digital landscape.

“When companies can solve this siloed approach internally, they have a much better chance of having a more holistic approach to marketing to consumers in this new multi-channel reality.”