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From DM Bulletin to Data and Direct Bulletin

Brand Republic's DM Bulletin is changing its name to Data and Direct Bulletin, covering the science of identifying and targeting customers and prospects, as well as the art of tailoring content to them.

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Direct marketers have always understood that knowing your audience is a crucial contributor to marketing success, and now more than ever, data is in the spotlight.

Consumers’ adoption of digital platforms has increased the number of data flows into marketing departments, adding another dimension to the demographic and transactional pictures built up by companies such as Experian and Dunnhumby.

Brands trying to harness this complexity include Tesco Direct, which is working on personalising shoppers' experience through behavioural targeting and integrated Clubcard data.

Digital advertising's evolution continues to throw up opportunities for the data-savvy, such as the ability to buy access to a specific audience in real-time, and location-based targeting.

New companies are springing up in the space where data and digital media meet, such as UK retargeting specialist Struq and US audience-data exchange BlueKai.

The data establishment is reacting – Experian has partnered with demand-side media platform Turn, while Acxiom has brought in digital advertising veteran Scott Howe as chief executive.

Meanwhile, mass-media players are moving towards a more targeted way of buying and selling, where access to the right data is key.

On the demand side, WPP, for one, has created a proprietary global audience database in the form of Xaxis.

On the supply side, TV companies are readying themselves to shift to platforms that allow for other ways of audience targeting than time, interests and regions.

Google has developed its own internet TV offering and Sky is already educating its customers about its AdSmart targeted ads system, which will be fully on set-top boxes by 2013.

Newly sensitive to who controls audience data, Channel 4 is making sure it gets to know its viewers as individuals rather than as an indistinct tribe, building a viewer database and a CRM programme.

Ironically, it will perhaps join the ranks of brands using direct mail, which remains a proven medium despite rising cost due to the travails of Royal Mail.

As recently noted in Marketing’s ‘What digital can learn from DM’ feature, innovation in customer segmentation, combined with that rising cost, is prompting brands to develop more targeted strategies.

For example, clothing brand Boden recently sent a unique, digitally printed catalogue to every customer. The campaign used information about customers' shopping history with the company to create personalised marketing presented in the style of a story.

As with Tesco Direct’s online personalisation plans, data is again key. In the words of Richard Marshall, founding partner of agency TMW: "In order to start a conversation, you need to have good data and insight, which will allow for higher relevancy and better personalisation."

So CRM continues to prove a draw for a variety of brands, with Kellogg, Superdrug and Sony Ericsson among those making efforts to build up one-to-one relationships with their customers this year.

Alternatively, Facebook is aspiring to be the place where brands talk to consumers, with a rich repository of details on more than 800 million people and its own vision of "Social CRM".

It's fertile ground for direct marketing agencies. Many of those that came of age in an analogue world, such as Wunderman and Proximity, have flourished, while others have been snapped up as holding companies seek to create best of breed offerings.

Meteorite.s merger talks with MRM London follow the creation of Kitcatt Nohr Digitas and Publicis Chemistry and DAD’s acquisition by SapientNitro.

Even digital agencies are trying their hand at direct, as with Albion launching Albion Cell, while ad agencies are acknowledging the importance of data, AMV having launched AMV Analytics.

As marketing evolves, we'll be bringing you a weekly update on the latest developments.

Follow Daniel Farey-Jones on Twitter @danfareyjones


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