Coca-Cola Gets It: It's The Data, Stupid

Well, that shouldn’t be surprising coming from the RTB Insider Summit’s opening keynote Michael Weaver. After all, his title at Coca-Cola Co. is director o data strategy. But the way he sees it, the progression of “precision marketing” has evolved from “owned and earned” media that Coca-Cola has some control over to “paid,” which has historically been controlled by the people who sell it to the people who pay for it -- you know, media suppliers (and the data companies that supply them with insights about how, why, when and where consumers interact with their medium).

We’re “starting to cross over into paid,” Weaver said, adding that the data that Coca-Cola has generated from consumers it interacts with in owned and earned media channels, is being turned over to the company’s “investments” team, which buys all its media.

“We’re starting to take our knowledge of data and analytics and apply it to what they do,” Weaver said, adding the goal is to, “understand it’s not jsut one buy for one audience.”

The practical application of those insights, he said, maybe more precise and relevant message targeting to different consumer types that may previously have been targeted with the same ad message.

“We need to have 10 versions of this Diet Coke ad to appeal to 10 different segments,” he said.

Where the process gets really interesting, he said, is with the powerful “first-party” data Coca-Cola collects from consumers participating in its loyalty marketing programs. With 20 million members to date, he said, the goal is “all about increasing consumption” so that the members either continue to use existing products or “upsell” to new products.

But the secret sauce, he said, is using data collected on first-party loyal customer behavior, and using it to target “lookalike” consumers who are not currently loyalty program members via paid media buys in the hope of converting them.

“As we place media out into the world that are not yet a first-party consumers, he said, it might not always lead to them joining Coca-Cola’s loyalty program, but ideally opting into some data relationship with the beverage marketer, such as signing up for an email to receive updates on World Cup soccer scores.

The result isn’t just precision marketing, but more precise media-buying.

“What we’ve been guilty of in the past is spending over and over and over again to acquire the same consumer,” he said.

Asked how that’s impacting Coca-Cola Co.’s media mix, Weaver said, “It’s definitely becoming more programmatic” and “it’s slowly shifting away from TV.”

While Weaver emphasized the word “slowly,” he said it is nonetheless a radical shift for the uber TV marketing brand.

“It’s funny,” he said, “We really have to prove that a Coca-Cola,” in terms of the shift from TV into programmatic digital media. “We love our TV ads and we love our Super Bowl moments.”

The next big frontier, and potentially most vexing for Coca-Cola, he said, is mobile.

“We don’t have an easy license to have mobile applications,” he said, noting that his products are so ubiquitous, that it’s not like anyone would need a mobile app to find or use them.

“Our product is everywhere, it’s cheap,” he said. “If you want a Coke, it’s easy to find. We’re struggling a big to find what utility we can offer in mobile.”

But the bottom line, he said, is more precise data and audience targeting is, “shifting TV and mass media into the digital channels, but very slowly.”
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