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Data-first consumers and brands are turning marketing on its head

Data-first consumers and brands are turning marketing on its head

ANZ’s recent declaration that it was transforming to a data-first company has ramifications that spread beyond banking. Data-first also represents an important turning point for brands and the end of the aspirational hogwash that passes for marketing today.

Mark Ritson said recently that marketing has lost its way, “the opportunity cost of this focus on love and purpose is that most of you are missing that harder commercial point.

Consumers in a data-first world are not just receivers of data-driven outcomes, they are players in their own data-first world and expect it from suppliers, without the bulldust.

Consumers want credible and actionable like-for-like comparisons and rapid, online offer fulfilment without having to talk to a person or visit a physical location e.g. retail or branch. Brands themselves will still have value but the value position for customers will lie in the value of data offered to customers to make choices.

Proclaiming the desire to become data-first, places ANZ a generation behind the Facebooks and Amazons but still ahead of its competitors. It will take three iterations of culture and organisational design to achieve. At the same time, the data-first companies of today will have moved on to be “AI-first” as Google and Baidu have already done and Facebook and Amazon will do shortly.

In an attempt to get closer to this new data-first audience CEO Elliott had an epiphany on June 21 this year announcing that he would become a “Facebook Influencer”. Ironically Elliott’s immediate predecessor Mike Smith had a similar “road to Damascus” conversion in August 2013 and became a LinkedIn Global Influencer. Hopefully, this new Mission from God won’t end up as simply another ego trip. Smith wrote his oracles for LinkedIn installed in his KIM JONG-un style bunker in the ANZ tower keeping the minions as far away as possible. One of Elliott’s first acts was to destroy the bunker so perhaps there’s new hope.

One Australian organisation that was born data-first is Kogan. Founder Ruslan Kogan describes it as a data analytics company disguised as an e-commerce business. Kogan runs his entire business with 120 staff — and none of those staff touch a customer from website to order to procurement to delivery.

Are banks really more complicated than Kogan?

But think of the touch points of a Kogan $29 “Wifi Repeater” from website search, assessment, purchase, procurement, delivery and support. It’s complicated — with lots of points of failure. The ANZ consumer bank simply purchases money and sells money, and manages the risk of not paying too much for the money, the risk of borrowers defaulting, and the risk of timing arbitrage between money purchased and money sold. “Simples” as our Meerkat friends would say.

The point is that simplified business structures supported by very high degrees of automation which provide data-first outcomes for customers tend to have a similar factual approach to advertising. And that’s what the new generation of data-first customers expect. This is light years from the marketing we see today from the banks, telcos and insurance companies — all industries which have to transform to data-first.

Shayne Elliott said that the changes ahead for the ANZ will be exciting for many and frightening for some. Perhaps some of those that should be frightened are the marketing agencies?

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