CPGs, This One’s For You.

We are all victims of taking the easy way out when we are writing content and focusing on the examples that can be tied to a login, a loyalty number, a conversion, or some other form of PII. Let’s face it, the story tells itself in those situations. Then, when we are at a conference and someone asks a question about their CPG business, we freeze and revert to talking about that really great case study for the client that isn’t a CPG company that allowed us to completely customize a landing page based on what we knew about a visitor in real-time.
Well, enough is enough and it’s time for a change (RIP Owen Hart, we miss you). I’m going to be honest with you: we have a lot of fun with our CPG clients. Sure, it’s not our largest vertical, but our clients in this realm are very data driven and they are yearning for any kind of insight we can provide them. However, some of the “sexier” technologies (like a DMP or an optimization technology) are more difficult to secure a budget for, given the focus of most their marketing investments. For CPGs, it’s all about brand awareness/image and connecting with current target consumers while nurturing those that are marching towards that target segment in due time. They are also always looking for ways to reinvent the brand to reach different demographics sometimes without even creating new product. Want a current example of an amusing reboot? Look at what Heinz is doing with their mustard.
Despite all of this, the mantra is the same for CPGs at the foundational level compared to other verticals: you need to have a strong, measurement framework across all of the channels you’re operating in.
For CPGs, there are 3 major categories of focus on the path towards personalization:
  • Social Networks
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc
  • Owned Digital Channel
  • Website, mobile site, mobile app
  • Media/Advertising
  • Display, Video, TV, Print, etc.
In my last newsletter, I spoke about DMPs and how to put them in their highest and best use. For CPG companies, a DMP is critical given the amount of branding investment in media we typically see. A DMP implemented with the appropriate taxonomy becomes the primary source of audience data and a major stakeholder in the personalization plans as you make that handshake between 3rd party sites and your owned channels.
Let’s talk a bit about that “handshake” and how that handoff is truly important. For CPGs, building that ownership of data is critical because the majority of the data being captured is rented initially. Between the media investments and social involvement, there are quite a few data “black holes” that will leave the marketers guessing. Let’s face it, the social insights provided by these solutions are not really anything to write home about just yet and we all know that transparency in media these days is coming but we’re not there yet either.
But, the path to personalization must start somewhere and there is value to be had from those disparate sources of data. That value is in converting the ownership of that data when you get consumers to jump from one channel to the next. With advertising pixels and some finesse in social tracking, there will be incredible opportunities to build a personalized brand experience for an individual or persona. Is it going to be as sexy as an online retailer making product recommendations and increasing their cart size? No, but I would argue that building a brand experience for CPG is just as important despite the conversions happening offline.
Despite the conversions occurring offline in stores, there is quite a bit of inferred analysis to be had. For example, in-market performance correlated with online behavior can be indicative of success in branding and converting consumers to brand loyalists. This is where marketing effectiveness and data science comes into play. Without a direct, measurable, conversion path the solution is to build an analysis framework that can shed some light on the common questions a CPG marketer receives with regards to success of online investments (videos, ads, games, etc.).
This is why it all comes back to a strong, measurement framework for your owned channels. The same concepts apply:
  • Strategic data layer to ensure ownership and a proper data flow to and from each technology you deploy digitally

  • Campaign tracking strategy and link building to ensure appropriate tie-ins as consumers jump from channel to channel

  • Coupons and Promos tracking from channel to channel inclusive of the URLs and branding used on TV and Print

  • A DMP to store media audience data that can be used for segmentation purposes while a 1st party dataset is built over time

It will never be an exact science for the CPG vertical, but it doesn’t have to be. With the mobile channel growing every day and with connectivity becoming a foregone conclusion, we can only assume that the data “black holes” will become smaller and smaller over time.
I thought it’d be fun to write a newsletter this month dedicated to the organizations in our industry who struggle to find content written about their business model when trying to justify a budget for personalization. However, while my focus has been on CPG businesses, what I've outlined is applicable to any organization with a similar business model. I hope this has provided some food-for-thought! 
Please feel free to reach out to me directly or submit a comment/question below.


By Bill Bruno
About the Author:

Bill Bruno is the CEO - North America, Ebiquity.

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