Data Science: #1 Function for Marketers as They Work In, Through and Out of The Pandemic

April 14, 2020

Ozgur Dogan, Managing Partner, Founder, Data Science Solutions


The world has been experiencing unprecedented events over the last couple of months. We have seen COVID-19 shut down many parts of the economy and shift demand to other parts. Travel, entertainment and dining businesses have been hit the hardest and have seen their revenues decline by 75% or more within only a few days. On the other side, we have seen e-commerce businesses - particularly online grocery and online learning - do exceptionally well as consumers in many states shifted their spend to online channels following the shelter in place orders.

Through the eyes of our client base, we have seen demand for data science increase since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. There is increased focus on doing more with less and generating ROI given the current market dynamics. Differences in Covid-19 incidence rates across geographies are impacting consumer demand differently at local market level creating the need for localized microtargeting. Analyzing the relationship between business performance and health data at market level becomes a requirement for making the right targeting decisions.

In this environment, we see three ways companies can use data science to create competitive advantage:

1.    Leverage non-traditional data to drive better targeting decisions: Now is the right time to think creatively and tap into new data sources you have not used before and find new ways to reach your target audience.  COVID-19 is impacting different geographies and consumer segments differently. Not all the counties are affected at the same time and at the same rate. The expectation is that the number of cases will decline during the hot summer months and will likely be followed with micro outbreaks during the fall. At BLEND360, we have been analyzing the relationships between COVID-19 incidence data and marketing performance at the local market level. Capturing and using timely COVID-19 data – as well tracking insights on your company’s marketing and performance impact by region - will be critical in developing localized micro-targeting capabilities and deciding which local markets to focus on and which markets to avoid.

2.    Develop foundational analytics capabilities to jump ahead of the competition: This is the perfect time to develop new advanced targeting capabilities and get a leg up on the competition. Several companies are using the crisis as a motivating force to get ahead of their competitors - who may have become conservative and defensive in their strategies. These innovators are developing new data and analytics capabilities that will allow them to get ready for the ‘next normal’ and go fast as the markets start to recover. Examples include enabling new addressable channels for new customer acquisition, developing new customer experience measurement capabilities and building localized micro-targeting capabilities.

3.    Focus on shifting and optimizing your marketing spend to achieve higher return: Now is the perfect time to take a fresh look at your marketing spend and ensure you are spending in places that will generate highest return on investment.  This is will be critical for many companies as they need to get their marketing dollars to work harder and generate higher return for them over the next year. In this new environment, companies need to adopt an investor mindset to aggressively shift marketing spend and continually analyze performance and reallocate spend based on what is working. This will be the expectation of investors in the foreseeable future. COVID-19 has also shut down several important sales channels - such as events, door to door, retail, etc.  - while others such as social media and connected TV have become more important.  Shifting the spend to more productive channels and geographies now – and identifying the appropriate data models, repeatable strategies and attribution models to support - will create big returns for companies as they navigate the marketplace changes.

At BLEND360, we are seeing increased demand for Data Science as many companies are turning to data to optimize their targeting and spend decisions during COVID-19 crisis. Many companies are doubling down on Data Science now to create an advantage and jump ahead of their competition.  At the end of the day, every executive has a decision to make in the coming weeks and months: Will you be conservative and play defense during this period? - Or will you go on the offensive and get a leg up on your competition using the power of Data Science?

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