The rapidly evolving role of data in marketing

I have been very fortunate to be part of an exciting period of growth for digital marketing at the Kellogg Company over the past three years. As a group, we have seen the dollars spent on digital activities nearly double, the return on investment of those activities rise nearly fivefold, and the size of our organization focused on digital more than triple. Digital has been a key component of everything from the Pop Tarts Crazy Good Summer program to the selection and launch of a new flavor of Cheez-It. My own personal success within the digital team at Kellogg began with a story about data.

The rapidly evolving role of data in marketing

As our spend in digital media and marketing activities climbed rapidly, I was tasked with constructing the framework and capabilities necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of this investment. My pitch was simple: We needed to play "Moneyball" with digital marketing data. As an organization, it was imperative we place the appropriate focus on identifying metrics that truly mattered -- those most indicative of ultimate success for our brands. In Kellogg's case, this meant tracking and optimizing digital performance metrics that were most closely tied to moving boxes of cereals and snacks off store shelves. The concept resonated well up and down the organization, and our measurement framework has become a cornerstone of our digital success ever since.

A short three years later, it is incredible to think about the continued advances in marketing data, what is possible today, and the implications of it all. Three years ago, we struggled with something as simple as capturing accurate impression counts for use in market mix modeling. Today, our conversations are about purchase data-based segmentation, viewability, interaction rates, and dwell time, among other things. Our internal CRM provides data on the preferences of millions of loyal Kellogg consumers.

Companies such as Ahalogy are curating Pinterest content for us based on consumer response data. And copy test result data for hundreds of digital ad creatives are informing what we refer to as the "Any Second Ad Principles."

I love participating in intelligent discussions about the future of marketing, the role of data, and whether marketing in our time is still an art or if it's becoming more of a science. In my experience, success is based on organizations and ideas that encompass both. The incredible mass of data available today, when appropriately collected and analyzed, represents the science. However, unless this science better informs the art of world-class strategy, content, and execution development, we have fallen short. I look forward to further discussing some thoughts and examples of this combination of art and science at the iMedia Agency Summit and welcome compelling arguments that move our industry forward.

Aaron Fetters is director, insights and analytics solutions center, Kellogg Company.

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