Category Archives: Tips & Resources

Is big data for little companies?

Big data has drastically transformed the business landscape in recent years. Companies have always collected data but not necessarily used it to it’s fullest potential. Rather than storing data in a folder or on a disk, never to be seen again, businesses can employ the big data approach and use this information as a way to gain valuable insight.

Big data involves the analysis of large sets of statistics, whether that be consumer information, revenue, advertising, footfall or ever social media. This data is collected and analysed in order to find patterns that would otherwise be difficult, if not impossible to recognise using standard methods. The information which is produced from big data can offer a wealth of benefits, including financial, promotional and organisational, just to name a few

The reason that big data has become so popular in recent years is because it is now much more affordable and easy to use thanks to the evolution of technology. However, there does seem to be a disconnect between this new type of analysis and smaller businesses. Many small to medium companies won’t even consider big data because they assume it’s suited to larger organisations and out of their reach, but this just isn’t the case.

It is true that larger amounts of data does facilitate more accurate results and this may seem to benefit larger companies but any amount of data can be useful. This is particularly true if the business in question hasn’t been analysing much or any data previously, which tends to be the case with smaller companies.

So why are so many smaller businesses failing to embrace big data? It’s likely that there is a number of factors behind this. Money is probably the main issue, with many smaller companies assuming that they wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of the equipment, software and personnel required to utilise this new technique.

Another problem is the assumption that utilising big data techniques would require a designated department or member of staff with the expertise to run it. The majority of small business owners employ a small number of staff and don’t have the budget in place to hire new employees, never mind a whole team of specialists.

The concept of big data itself can be quite intimidating and many business owners feel that they don’t have the full understanding in order to get the most value from this tool. Even if they are able to collect and analyse the data, there is a worry that they won’t be able to fully utilise the results in any meaningful way.

Although understandable and very common, these worries are often misconceptions and are holding companies back from embracing an invaluable tool. Thanks to the rise of another huge business trend- self service solutions, companies are no longer forced to modify their own infrastructure in order to utilise new techniques, they can simply outsource.

There are many online organisations that offer self service big data solutions, levelling the playing field for every company, no matter how large or small. These services not only help businesses to collect and analyse their own data, they also convert the raw data in to meaningful, simple to understand information. This information is incredibly useful and can be used to make informed decisions that will hopefully cut costs, streamline processes or attract new custom.

The best part of the self-service approach is that it doesn’t require new software, hardware or personnel and is therefore much more affordable, straightforward and infinitely more attractive to smaller businesses.

In the past, techniques such as big data may have been more accessible to larger, richer companies but thanks to the continual evolution of technology- this is no longer the case. Fortunately, the breaking down of technological barriers is helping to create a much more egalitarian business landscape.

In fact, it’s worth noting that there are advantages that smaller companies have over their larger competitors when it comes to big data. For example, they benefit from a much more flexible approach to change- meaning they can react to data in real time. Larger companies tend to be fixed and have many more moving parts- therefore modifications are complex and require more time.

It has never been a better time for smaller businesses to adopt a bigger approach to data.

So where do you start?  The choice is yours but one company we have worked with may be worth a call https://brainlogic.co.uk

Advantages of Programmatic Advertising

As technology advances, there has been a trend towards human-free automation and this is affecting many different industries. Surprisingly even the marketing industry is feeling the impact of automation with the rise of programmatic advertising. In fact, according to Zenith there has been a rapid growth in recent years with programmatic ad spend skyrocketing from $4bn in 2012- to a whopping £39bn in 2016, with no slowing down in sight.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Although there tends be a lot of “jargon” around the idea of programmatic advertising, it’s actually a fairly simple concept. Whereas traditional advertising involves people bidding and negotiating for ad space, programmatic advertising is completely automatic and carried out by computers and software- cutting out the middle man.

The software can target specific groups with relevant ads by utilising complex algorithms. The overall buying and selling of digital advertising is completed on a demand-side platform (DSP) which allows users to access multiple data exchange and ad exchange accounts on a single platform.

What are the Advantages?

Easy

Although it may seem quite complex at first, the overall process of programmatic advertising is relatively simple- thanks in a large part to the use of a DSP. The platform allows you view stats such as key importance indicators, cost per click and cost per action and therefore ad optimisation is much easier and less time consuming.

Efficient

One of the main advantages that programmatic advertising has over traditional methods is efficiency. This is a factor with all types of automation, when you replace people with machines or technology then you are nearly always going to improve efficiency. This is because machines can work much faster, they don’t tire and you are removing human error.

Talking more specifically about marketing, the use of the DSP really helps to streamline the entire process of ad buying. It completely cuts out the middle men and any negotiating which would ordinarily take place. Also, when working with a single platform, it allows you to have access to the complete ad inventory which again makes the process much faster, easier and efficient.

Tailored

As DSPs have access to a huge wealth of data, the targeting of ads becomes hyper-personalised. This goes further than just the type of ads which are shown but also factors in things like colour, image, price and call to action.

Thanks to the advanced algorithms that are used within programmatic advertising, the personalisation of ads is becoming real-time. This means factors such as specific geographical location, weather and even the time of the week can be used as way of tailoring ads. For example, advertising cold drinks when the weather is hot.

Transparent

The ability to track which website your ads land on can be incredibly important, especially when company reputation is more important than ever before. Fortunately, programmatic advertising offers greater transparency when compared with traditional methods. Buyers have a real-time view of the types of sites in which their ads are placed, as well as other factors such as costing and the types of people that are engaging with the ads.

Transparency means that buyers have instant access to all the relevant data concerning their campaigns, which not only safeguards against scandal but also ensures a faster, more efficient and more successful campaign.

Cheap

Programmatic advertising removes the human element and streamlines the entire process, therefore bringing costs down. For example, the ability to purchase media across a wide range of publishers means a reduction in administration costs. Furthermore, buyers don’t have to pre-negotiate a price, they can simply set a budget and pay only for relevant impressions.

Some companies are going one step further to reduce costs by setting up an in-house solution.

It seems as if programmatic advertising is not only here to stay but could also be a sign of things to come. With this form of advertising makes headway in to the mobile world and talk of a programmatic TV boom, it’s the right time for companies to educate themselves on this new trend.

The Shortlisting Process

 

In the previous article we outlined a brief summary of what shortlisting is and why it is used. Now we will look at the process itself in more depth, including information on evaluation criteria and the actual scoring system.

Evaluation Criteria

Prior to actually sifting through the sellers and compiling a shortlist- companies should publish their evaluation criteria. These are the essential components by which each seller will be judged. So for example, time at which they can start the work, essential skills, experience, cost, location and any preferred skills. These are just some common examples but each business will have their own specific set of requirements.

When applying, any sellers that don’t meet a company’s essential requirements will be automatically rejected. Those that do meet these requirements will become eligible for the shortlist and that’s when more thorough evaluation will take place, such as scoring.

Scoring

When it comes to comparing proposals, buyers will often be faced with a variety of vendors who are all offering similar things. Therefore the ability to pinpoint which proposals are the most suitable is paramount and this can be achieved using a scoring system.

Obviously, binary answers such as whether a supplier can begin work before a certain date can only be scored in two different ways, 1 and 0 for yes and no respectively. However, when assessing more subjective requirements, such as essential skills, experience and preferred skills, a more comprehensive points system may be required.

For example, when asking sellers to provide proof of experience- the buyer can then judge how far that proof met the requirement- 0/not at all, 1/partially met, 2/met and 3/exceeded expectations. This type of scoring system is a useful technique but it has to be applied in the same way to all sellers that are being assessed, in order to guarantee fairness.

Only applicants who meet all of the requirements will be eligible for the shortlist. However, if that number is particularly high then buyers can choose the highest scoring proposals to take forward. It’s at this stage where factors such as preferred requirements can make such a big difference.

Standing Out

Many businesses will complete background research in to prospective sellers and this can have an effect on their eventual decision. For example, many buyers will utilise sourcing platforms as a way of finding the best sellers. Furthermore, the sellers own website can provide a wealth of information, including case studies, bios and the way in which they approach business.

Reputation is another important factor and one that is often a deal breaker. The cheapest vendors may be tempting but are they reputable and how will their partnership affect the buyer? Reputation can be a difficult quality to gauge but this is where websites and social media presence play such a vital role.  The way in which sellers interact with other customers will be indicative of how they interact with a prospective buyer.

Finally, we should point out that there is an x-factor element to the shortlisting process. As already mentioned, the competition can be tough and the difference between landing on the shortlist and not can be marginal. In fact, sometimes buyers can simply go with their gut and choose a supplier who they feel they can personally work with.

How to Write Shareable Content

There has been a very noticeable shift in the approach to content production in recent years. Whilst in the past the emphasis has been on quality, now the measure of success is the likelihood of a post going viral. The more people that share your content on their own social media channels, the more likely that the article or blog is read by other people and the greater degree of exposure it gains. Writing shareable content requires a whole different set of rules- many of which we will take a look at now.

Lists

Creating content which is simplistic and easy to read is always going to attract more visitors. It is for this reason why many websites are now producing lists instead of straightforward articles. In fact, Buzzfeed have built an entire empire on this approach.

Even if you don’t go down the list route, try to create content with small chunks of information, rather than blocks of text. These types of blogs are much more palatable and readers are more likely to share them on their own social media.

Title

We know that titles are incredibly important and when posting online they can often make or break your content. In order for your work to be shared, it has to be read and an evocative title is paramount.

When considering titles, think about whether there is a different or more exciting way of describing your content. It’s worth noting that numbers in titles and titles which come in the form of a question are particularly successful. Also, it goes without saying that dramatic titles will of course attract more clicks.

Pictures

As we have already established, people are more likely to engage with content when it’s immediately effective. One of the ways in which you can make an instant impact is through visuals. Just in the same way that a title can attract readers, a compelling image can do the exact same thing.

The visual appearance of content is becoming just as important as the work itself. This has probably got a lot to do with the changing face of social media. Sites such as Instagram and Pinterest rely heavily on images and this is affecting how posts are constructed.

Platform

You should always take into account the platform on which you post your blogs. For example as we have established, when posting on Instagram and Pinterest, the visual is everything. Positing on Facebook should take into account multiple factors such as images, titles and the way in which people interact with the site. When sharing content on Twitter, the emphasis is on hashtags as these are what drive traffic to your tweets.

You have to remember, when people share your work it will most likely be on one of these networks. Therefore, content which has been created with social media in mind has a greater chance of success.

Emotion

Whether you like it or not, emotional content attracts more attention than informational. You only have to look at the typical types of posts which go viral in order to understand what they have in common. The reason behind this idea is that emotional pieces have a greater impact upon us and we are much more likely to share them with other people.

Just take a look at Facebook, we don’t react to posts with an “I agree” button, we react with emoticons.

Controversy

Following on from the idea of emotion is creating content which is outright controversial. We know this is a successful technique because we see it all the time. Sites will share posts with a shocking title or picture in order to entice people into clicking. Whether the content lives up to the title is beyond the point, they have already gained a new visitor. We call this clickbait.

Creators should be cautious with this tactic. Being associated with clickbait can be damaging to your reputation and may actually deter visitors from interacting with your content. Even if you don’t post clickbait, engaging with controversial topics can still be somewhat risky. You are much more likely to offend a large proportion of readers. This is something which should factor in to your overall approach.