Commentary

Fewer CEOs Paying Attention To Data, Study Says

Data and analysis help brands gain a competitive advantage -- so much so that many CEOs have begun to pay more attention and take a higher degree of responsibility for the numbers coming from advertising campaigns, but not enough.

In fact, the numbers dropped in April 2016 compared with a year-ago study -- 28% vs 38%, respectively, according to McKinsey & Company. Overall, survey responses suggest that company leaders are less involved in analytics efforts than they are in digital activities.

The study suggests that even when analytics are top of mind, company leaders don't communicate a clear vision through the organization.

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While 38% of CEOs cite themselves as leading their companies’ analytics agendas, only 9% of all other C-suite executives agree. These respondents are much more likely to cite CIOs or business-unit heads as leaders of the analytics agenda.

So why has the data become so important? We will discuss some of the reasons why this week at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit in Key Largo, Fla., but the main reason involves increasingly accurate ad targeting -- whether in search, display, video, virtual reality or other types of media serving up on desktops or on mobile phones.

It may begin with a search on an engine to look for specific products, services or how-to videos, but it ends on a brand's Web site, YouTube, or another video host. The actions by the person traversing the Web create a digital footprint. And the insights gained from that digital footprint could save companies thousands -- if not millions -- of dollars each year in advertising. Return on investment will also rise as companies learn how to apply the data.

Last weekend I searched for a branded video on my iPhone. The video led me from the search results to the brand's Web site. Google research suggests that 40% of smartphone video views visited the store or branded Web site after seeing a branded video on their smartphone.

In this instance the search led me to Tumblr to watch the Stagecoach Music Festival live and run through the achieved videos for the weekend. From there I went to iTunes to purchase a complete track of John Fogerty songs for nearly $12.

While not a huge purchase, the crumbs left as data from my digital footprint to granny's house and beyond reveal my music preferences as well as the time of day and what type of device, location and weather conditions to retarget me on in search, display and in a variety of other media.

It's no surprise that small businesses have their work cut out for them when marketing online. Some may need a niche. A survey by Toluna, a consumer insights company, found that 62% of the 770 study's participants -- consumers -- believe small businesses could increase sales by creating a stronger online presence such as search advertising or marketing, while 48% believe small businesses should engage in more local marketing, and 40% said they should offer more products personalized to their local area.

The data sheds light on consumer behavior and attitudes as it relates to small businesses, which the study defines as a business making less than $500,000 annually. It also analyzes what motivates consumers to shop at small businesses.

Thirty-two percent of respondents are more likely to shop at small businesses on special dedicated occasions, such as National Small Business Week and Small Business Saturday, because they are reminded about community efforts.

Some 44% of respondents claim that the main reason for shopping at small businesses is because they like supporting local vendors, and 21% of respondents say the No. 2 reason is location and convenience. The most common factors that prevent consumers from shopping at small businesses are the prices relative to large stores, and the lack of availability of specific products -- 44% of respondents chose either of these two reasons.

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