COVID-19 Data Catalog to Understand V-Shaped Recovery

June 6, 2020

By: Oz Dogan, Managing Partner

5 Tips for Super Charging Your Audience Selection Approach

As the markets reopen post-COVID pandemic, we have seen the stock market reach record levels in anticipation of a V-shaped recovery. Nasdaq hit a record high on June 5th erasing all its losses that occurred during the pandemic. More and more consumers have started going to restaurants, malls and even casinos depending on where they are located. As I write this article, majority of the country reopened their economies with the exception of a few states such as New York, New Jersey, California, and Michigan.

We are all excited about the reopening of economies but are also concerned about ongoing regional outbreaks as well as those expected during fall. As such, each geography is at different stages of reopening and this will have an impact on both consumer behavior and economic activity. For example, Manhattan is still shut down for the most part and saw major exodus where a sizable chunk of the population left the city to ‘weather the storm’ in suburbs or surrounding towns. On the other side, restaurants in Miami reopened their dining rooms and are getting closer to a sense of normalcy.

If you are a marketer now interested in finding new customers using addressable marketing channel, you cannot afford to ignore these regional differences that are having a big impact on consumer behavior. Here are some ideas and tips about how to get the biggest bang for your buck from your marketing investments as you navigate regional and national recovery:

  1. Look beyond traditional data sources such as compiled data, credit data, trigger, etc. to super charge your addressable marketing programs. You cannot just rely on traditional third-party data sources such as compiled and trigger files during this environment. The velocity of compiled data is quite low meaning the individual profile attributes do not change frequently so it will not properly capture the changes that are taking place across geographies. The result is that your audience selection will not be optimal if you are using the same ‘old’ approach of developing audiences using traditional third-party data sources
  2. Create a comprehensive data catalog to help you sense sense and build signals regarding local market behavior. This could consist of ‘environmental’ data sources such as localized health data (e.g., COVID incidences, hospitalizations), reopening dates for states, regional economic indicators such as unemployment rates and local restaurant visits which is all available through public and specialty data sources. As an example, we are currently analyzing a data source that provides data about how many people are visiting McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants in a local geography. You can capture both historical and forward-looking data in the catalog and include metrics like estimated COVID cases by geography by capturing publicly available forecast data.
  3. Update your audience targeting models frequently to get the most out of your first party data. The pandemic and recovery is a dynamic and fast moving target. If you are using audience targeting models that are based on the profile of responders from last year or even 6 months ago you are leaving money on the table. Look at responders from last month or even last week/day if the sample size is big enough. Keep tracking how the responder file is shifting as we move through different stages of recovery. We have seen these shifts happen across several clients and there is a good chance your audience has been shifting too - the question is how much and how fast?
  4. Think omni-channel. Even if your champion acquisition channel is direct mail or paid social, consider bringing other channels into the mix and have them play an assist role and create synergistic effects. We have seen channel preferences change during the pandemic. For example, consumers are spending less time listening to podcasts (e.g., due to less time commuting in car) and more time watching streaming services. By taking an omni-channel approach, you will be able to see which channel mix is lifting the overall performance. This means integrating your data from traditional channels into new ones, such as pulling store data in for us in email or digital channels. Once you’ve defined your audience you can find them across the entire addressable marketing ecosystem including paid social, connected TV and radio.
  5. Invest (more) in testing. More testing equals more learning, and now is the time to get those tests out there that will allow you detect signals about changing consumer profiles and preferences. These might include tests not only of target audience, but channel, cadence and offer. Hopefully, you have a testing process in place that allows you to read results quickly. If not develop a robust testing approach that allows you to read results quickly and impact the next set of campaigns.

In closing, our recommendation is to take a fresh look at your customer data strategy, look beyond traditional sources and consider using new localized health and economic data that will allow you to detect changes in consumer behavior as we go through the stages of reopening and recovery. At BLEND360, we are building a data catalog to help our clients identify attractive geographies and target audiences by leveraging these new data sources. We believe this, combined with frequent updates to targeting models, will be major drivers of achieving the V-shaped recover we are all hoping for.

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