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Data, My Dear Watson

  • “We are engaging a consumer who is living in a massively digital world.”

Mayur Gupta

Kimberly-Clark

The sheer volume of data that flows in and out of consumer goods giant Kimberly-Clark every day could make even the most diligent bean-counter quake in his loafers. But with the perspicacious and prescient Mayur Gupta as Global Head of Marketing Technology, this flood of information becomes the fuel for a powerful marketing machine. My interview with Mayur will make clear to all of the data-phobic marketers out there that it’s time to welcome it with open arms.

The way Mayur observes data and deduces action plans from it reminds me of Sherlock Holmes, digging for hidden clues no one else can see and reassembling them into a cohesive fact-based narrative that concludes with a major breakthrough. In our interview we also had time to touch on Mayur’s exciting data-centric work with programmatic marketing.

What new technologies have you leveraged recently, and did the results of using them meet your expectations?

We have tried to keep it simple. We orchestrate the entire marketing technology ecosystem at Kimberly-Clark across four overlapping bubbles—media, content, data (context), and commerce. We strongly believe that the ultimate seamless consumer experience occurs at the intersection of these bubbles. Underneath these, though, we have enterprise, tactical/localized, and innovative capabilities. Enterprise capabilities that need to be globally scaled. Tactical and localized capabilities that need agility and speed and pertain to local market and consumer needs. Lastly, technologies and startups that we need to partner with to drive innovation. While we have brought on a number of technologies across these buckets, a huge focus has been on connecting context, content, and commerce capabilities and constantly ensuring that we establish a connected ecosystem and not isolated technologies.

I’m paraphrasing here, but your CMO Clive Sirkin has said something along the lines of “We don’t believe in digital marketing; we believe in marketing in a digital world.” What does that mean, and how is it part of your work?

That’s correct and through Clive’s leadership we now have that as a foundational mindset and behavior across the organization. It’s quite simple if you think about it. We are engaging a consumer who is living in a massively digital world. She is dependent on digital technology, which is now part of her daily life. She no longer differentiates between the analog and the digital world in her expectations from brands and how they engage, she expects the same value and experience seamlessly across the board. However, on the flipside, brands continue to consider digital as a “thing” or a “silo” which breaks and fragments that experience. We at Kimberly-Clark believe in breaking these silos by driving convergence across functions and capabilities that eventually builds legendary brands in this digital world. It’s a shift from being multichannel (channel focused) to truly becoming “omnichannel” (consumer focused). We all have a single mission to deliver seamless experiences in a complex omnichannel world.

What’s next for your leveraging of data?

Data is massive; it’s the oil, it’s the currency for the industry. I think most of the industry has a big “small” data problem and not so much of a “big data” problem. It’s not so much the volume or size of data but how well connected and harmonized it really is. Do we really understand “her” universally as a human, and that’s been our biggest focus. We call it data convergence, by which I mean an ability to stitch the fragmented data ecosystem across first-party, second-party, and third-party data. In order for us to drive relevant, personalized, contextual, and seamless consumer experiences across channels and touchpoints, we need this universal data and view of the consumer just in time, and an ability to make decisions and predictions relevant to her as she hops from one touch point to the other. Ultimately it’s converging her context (consumer data and insights) to influence content (her experience) which will ultimately inspire the ideal behavior (commerce). These are the three “C”s of modern marketing.

How has programmatic marketing helped you reach your overall marketing objectives?

It has helped us become smarter as well as more relevant and personalized from a media buying and consumer engagement standpoint across paid channels. Having utilized and scaled the obvious benefits of programmatic, we are now on the next horizon, where we are starting to leverage the impact of programmatic across the rest of the ecosystem, including our owned and earned channels as well as our retailer partnerships. The early horizons of programmatic have helped us optimize our media buying efforts and maximized the ROI, but the subsequent horizons will include leveraging consumer data and insights in driving stronger consumer engagement and inspiring behavior across the board. This, arguably, is the most underutilized and ignored benefit of programmatic buying.

What were some of the challenges of adopting programmatic? What advice would you give to another marketer who is just getting started with it?

Programmatic has been at Kimberly-Clark for a few years now, and was there before I joined. So the credit goes to our media leadership and our CMO. We were clearly one of the early adopters and pioneers in the space. The challenge for us now is to go beyond the obvious and scale the capability globally. We have already seen tremendous success with our current trading desk and programmatic buying capability; we are now challenging ourselves to take it to another level and impact the broader marketing ecosystem, smartly leveraging consumer data and insights that will drive seamless experiences and inspire consumer behavior across paid, owned, and earned.

Further reading:

David L. Rogers, The Network Is Your Customer: Five Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age

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