How Predictive Analytics Shift Power Back to Brands

. August 18, 2017

For many years, the marketers made adjustment after adjustment to account for how customers have been gaining greater power and control over the purchase process.

Today’s buyers – both B2C and B2B – are armed with unprecedented amounts of information and enabled with new digital technologies. For marketers, this changed everything. Instead of calling the shots, they found themselves dodging bullets.

But changes are underway. Sure, customers continue to exert unprecedented control of purchasing decisions. But in many new and important ways, power is beginning to shift back toward marketers, with a nudge from artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, advanced predictive analytics and other technologies that are playing a new and larger role.

Four Converging Trends

As customers face an ever-more dizzying array of choices across channels and devices, they are turning increasingly to technology to help them make decisions – or sometimes to make the decisions for them. That’s enabled by four converging trends:

  1. Dramatic expansion of IoT where data-emitting sensors are now embedded in almost everything – not the least of which is the smartphone is everyone’s purse or pocket. These sensors generate huge new torrents of smart data on customer preferences and patterns, and can trigger actions and offers by marketers.
  2. A shift from active engagement to “automated engagement” where technology takes over tasks that buyers once performed themselves, from information gathering to actual buying.
  3. Improved predictive or “anticipatory” analytics technology that can accurately anticipate what you want or need before you even know it – based not just on past behavior but on real time information and availability of alternatives that could alter your choices.
  4. Faster and more powerful analytics and identity technologies that crunch petabytes of data in real time, filter it through super-sophisticated models and help marketers gain previously unheard of efficiencies that lead to highly targeted and personalized offers.

In other words, measurement, data and analytics technology is helping both marketers and customers take the next evolutionary step. Instead of merely “empowering” customers, it is making decisions and taking action for them.

Customers themselves are instigating this shift. Most are happy to have technology help with presenting and making choices and customizing experiences – as long as they are good choices and welcome experiences. In fact, they increasingly expect it.

Algorithms Trump Anthropology

Traditional cost/benefit is a key driver of all this. We’ve entered a world where algorithms – not anthropology – become arbiters of value. In this algorithmic marketplace, technology itself wields the influence, with informed consent of customers who are fueling the trend with their devices feeding data to all kinds of apps.

Because data-driven marketers are getting smarter, customers don’t need to work as hard to make their preferences known. Analytics technology does more and more of the heavy lifting.

It’s not just about predicting. It’s actually more like anticipating. The key difference is that anticipation includes the more sophisticated ability to adapt marketing offers and messages on the fly toward alternatives based on data from hundreds of possible sources at any given moment.

Yes, the difference between “predict” and “anticipate” is subtle. In part it’s about time frame. Anticipation is more about the near term future, or even a specific time. Prediction is more about things that will happen further into the future.

By anticipating something, we gain a greater chance of influencing its outcome. Your smart phone can deliver recommendations and offers for where to go, how to get there and what to buy based on what you are about to do, not just what you’ve done in the past. Scary maybe. But real.

Anticipating Anticipatory Analytics

Access to vast new stores of data (and sophisticated analytics technology to make sense of it all) is providing marketers with a far more nuanced understanding of their own customers, and greater control over the methods and messages they use to engage them.

It’s a recipe for a more fulfilling relationship on both sides, and the critical ingredient is analytics. Any choices the customer makes can be immediately considered, resulting in even more highly targeted offers. In essence, brands can use adaptive, “situational selling” that allows them to quickly change marketing tactics based on the specific individual and/or context.

These highly sophisticated analytics are able to bob and weave in reaction to actual customer choices and alternatives, providing insights that make marketers a whole lot savvier about how, when and where to invest their budgets.

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Category: AI, Articles, Brand, Predictive, Trends

About the Author ()

Daniel Kehrer is Executive Editor of the ANA Data Analytics Center (DAC), a leading voice of thought leadership and education in marketing measurement, data and analytics. He is also the Founder of BizBest Media Corp. and previously headed marketing at MarketShare LLC, an advanced marketing analytics technology company.

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