Navigating an increasingly fragmented digital landscape is no mean feat, but Tradedoubler CEO  Matthias Stadelmeyer will be hoping to do exactly that when he takes to the stage at PMI: Europe next week. 

Stadelmeyer will be joined by colleague and Tradedoubler product director Andreas Schwibbe as the pair highlight the importance of not only gaining rigorous consumer insight, but putting that data to good use in targeted marketing efforts.

With mere days to go before his session at the Hotel Estrel in Berlin next Tuesday (June 23) we spoke to Matthias about some of the debates likely to arise from his presentation. 
How important is it to fully utilise customer data and what are the perils of bad practice when it comes to consumer information?
Matthias Stadelmeyer: Today’s digital ecosystem is complex and fragmented. Consumers are more connected – and more distracted – than ever before. Online journeys generate vast amounts of data, including browsing and buying history as well as real-time behavioural, contextual and location information.  This gives sophisticated marketers the opportunity to understand their customers on a new level.
The challenge is to harness this understanding and to find new ways of engaging with customers.  With the right technology, data-driven insight allows brands to identify and engage with customers through personalised advertising.  Advertising that communicates with the right person, in the right way, at the right time, with an individually tailored message that really resonates.  What’s exciting is that for years this has been the Holy Grail that advertisers have been seeking – and now it’s possible. 
We [Tradedoubler] are currently developing a data management platform that allows us to analyse this information, including second and third-party data, and to utilise it to learn more about the customers we are targeting. We can then use that information to optimise personalised communication with individual customers. At the same time, it is of course important to work within industry codes of practice when it comes to data privacy, keeping marketing relevant and personal but not irritating or intrusive. It’s this intelligent use of data, combined with industry expertise that is taking performance marketing to the next level.
Is there a danger of unnerving customers with over-personalised and targeted advertising and how can this be avoided?
MS: Marketers need to take a subtle approach to personalised advertising. Customers want to be delighted, not unnerved. And while there’s evidence that repeated retargeting with the same message does ultimately increase conversions, for the customer it can be irritating, particularly if those retargeted messages are made when the customer ultimately made the purchase anyway. 
The smart approach is to only retarget those customers who did not go on to make a purchase and to use different creative formats and messaging to maximise the likelihood of achieving a conversion.  For those who complete purchases, a more sophisticated approach is to use artificial intelligence to understand product lifecycle data and target those customers at the point where they are likely to repurchase that product. Alternatively, they are targeted with related products.  So, for example, if they purchased a flight then we’d retarget them with a local hotel or car-hire advertising. 
Technology is evolving at a faster pace than ever before, creating exciting new opportunities for marketers. The challenge is to really harness the technology that we now have at our fingertips to reach customers with relevant messaging.  It is important at this point to emphasise relevance – relevant messages that resonate with customers are less likely to unnerve and more likely to ‘delight’ and convert.

Clearly data is not just important but vital to digital advertisers today, but what about creativity? How important is it to combine hard data with creative innovation?

MS: Creativity has always been central to successful marketing campaigns and that continues to be the case. In fact, customer insight drawn from that data can enable us to be more creative than ever before.
Increasingly the most effective performance marketing campaigns are those that cleverly combine data with creativity to target customers and convert clicks into sales.  That said, there is always room for a more creative approach.  The creativity of our solution lies in the personalised and relevant content of an ad – the format of that ad, though, is still based on pre-defined templates and there is definitely work to do here in developing a more sophisticated solution that really maximises the impact of the advertising.  

Tradedoubler recently re-launched its Zoo Project for e-commerce start-ups. How important is it to support and nurture these new companies?
MS: New start-ups are the lifeblood of our industry. They bring creativity and innovation to the sector, so it is vital to support them. The Zoo Project is doing just that by giving a select group of start-ups access to office space in Central London that they couldn’t otherwise afford.

 At Tradedoubler, we also support the Zoo Project start-ups with publisher management and business management, giving them the strategic direction they need to help them propel their businesses forward.

Do you feel there is enough support for start-ups across Europe? What are the challenges they face?

MS: The support levels for start-ups have definitely grown in Europe in recent years – according to a Telefonica report, the number of European “incubators” rose by 400% between 2007 and 2013. However, starting a business remains a difficult mission. Many of the challenges that start-ups face in Europe are to do with access –to talent, education, advertisers, capital, support and advice. A lot of start-ups have amazing ideas and need to put all of their resources into developing their product, leaving little time to seek the support they need from third parties.

The industry needs to do more to help nurture these start-ups across the whole of Europe, rather than concentrating on isolated regions. We can also do more as an industry by educating start-ups on how performance marketing can enable their new businesses to grow.

Register now to be part of Europe’s largest performance advertising conference touching down in Berlin in less than three days. Read up on the full Performance Marketing Insights: Europe 2015 agenda here.