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Using data to tell stories

Oftentimes, marketers look at data as a pathway to direct targeting and specific media buying decisions. Some brands, however, look at data as an emotional opportunity to connect with customers. At the keynote session of the iMedia Brand Summit in Amelia Island, Florida, Benjamin Jankowski, group head of global media at MasterCard, explored how the brand uses data for creating effective emotional stories that connect with consumers and drive results.

MasterCard's "Priceless" brand has been around for 17 years, with a focus on creating unforgettable experiences for customers. This is executed via a series of steps, starting with social listening (which uncovers people's passions and needs), followed by developing a relevant offer and getting that offer to the consumer within 12 hours via social channels.

Digital data availability is rapidly growing, which is good news for brands because putting it to use is a relatively low-risk enterprise. With digital, you can adapt and execute quickly. Failing is OK because the money and time investment is often low. The data you acquire, along with information about your consumer base, results in a huge opportunity to learn and adapt to consumer needs even more.

On the other hand, data can sometimes send the wrong signal. Jankowski showed an example in which Shell's advertising was placed around video of a flaming collapsed oil rig. The association is obviously a negative for the brand. Thus, brands have to ensure that they are using data to properly align their messages. Relying solely on automation can be dangerous.

MasterCard's strategy is to first listen to consumers. This is done via a social listening tool that hones in on what people care about and their needs and behaviors. Then, MasterCard taps media data to answer additional questions about consumers: Who are they? What moves them? How likely are they to engage? When are they receptive? Once all of this information is gathered, it can be used to create a story by the brand.

One manifestation of this approach came from Priceless Hong Kong's Mother's Day campaign, which told the story of a family that wanted to do something special for their single mother who spent much of her life caring for her family while battling cancer. The results are tear-jerking -- check it out below.

The brand focuses on bringing contextually relevant things to the right audience at the right time, creating a magical mix that benefits everybody. It does this by leveraging several kinds of data, including media data, cardholder (or first-party data), and geo-targeted data.

The results speak for themselves. Not only does the brand create a unique experience for its customers, but it also sees much higher engagement rates, increased impressions and fan base numbers, rapidly growing customer site visits, and a boost in MasterCard spending and transactions.

Consumers are smarter than ever and expect more from brands -- so let's give them what they want.

Agata Smieciuszewski is a former associate editor at iMedia Connection.

Agata is a writer, editor, and social media marketer living in Los Angeles. She's a former Associate Editor at iMedia Connection and Social Media Manager and Editor of MMX at Modern Marketing Summit. Before that, she worked in the healthcare,...

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