• There’s no limit to what brand marketers can do with better data, audience segments, and insights. But how can you actually put this into practice? To answer this question, we sat down with Uber’s Tesäen Chavis to understand how her role as DMP manager has evolved to become Uber’s “air traffic controller” for audiences, how this helps the company know its customers better, and what additional data could further enrich that knowledge.

    Listen to the podcast or read the highlights of our conversation with Tesäen below:

    Interview highlights:

    RampUp: In the session that you were just in, you called yourself an air traffic controller. What does that mean for you?

    Tesäen: That was a term I borrowed from Amy Ball at REI, who was also on the panel. In short, I was brought on board to provide some sort of regulation behind how audiences are activated, while also making sure that it was cross-functional, cross-channel, and global. That was not a role that previously existed, so I would say the air traffic controller piece of this comes in making sure that there is a process to activate audiences and to get audience-based.

    RampUp: Is this something that every organization should have?

    Tesäen: Absolutely. I think a lot of brands’ marketing teams operate in silos and usually it’s dictated by budget. That’s pretty difficult, I would say, solely because of the fact that if you are operating from a budgetary standpoint, you are going to be biased to that outcome, so your performance is going to be your highest priority to make sure you get your fair share of budget. That doesn’t always equate to the best business outcomes. If you have someone who’s interested in how her team can visualize deeper user journeys and get as much out of the funnel as they possibly can to make sure that their targeting is efficient, then that person is doing the best deed for her company by helping them save money.

    RampUp: Are marketers spending too much?

    Tesäen: In my opinion, yes. I think there’s always room for greater efficiencies. I think a lot of over-spending comes into play where, if you don’t spend it, you lose it. I think that’s a mentality that a lot of brands have to move away from. And, it’s hard to move away from that at the channel-manager level, because if they lose their budget, then their performance decreases. It’s a hard question to answer, but in short I do think overall, a lot of marketing budgets are way too large, and I think a lot of it has to do with the insights that they have against their users. Do they actually have ID graphs and do they have an understanding of how they’re actually targeting each person—not just an ID but each individual? Once all brands get to the point where it’s people-based marketing and not just ID-based marketing, then I think naturally those budgets will start to decline with the same results, and that’s what we want.

    RampUp: Do you have all the data that you want?

    Tesäen: No. We know a fair amount about our users, and it’s a privilege to work at a company that has access to the high-quality data that we have access to. Of course, always making sure that we’re using that data compliantly and that users are aware of their options when it comes to opting out, opting in, etc. But I do think there’s always room for improvement in the data that we have.

    RampUp: I’d like to talk about the intersection of data and creative. One of our speakers said, “Instead of saying, ‘I have a 10% discount offer that I want to deliver; who do I deliver it to?’ You should be asking, ‘What does my audience segment want from me?’” How should segmenting inform creative and inform campaigns.

    Tesäen: That’s a beautiful question. What’s fascinating is that marketing should be data-driven. I think a lot of brands are moving toward this idea of data-driven marketing from the perspective of understanding what the user need is, and then responding to that, as opposed to the other way around. That’s incredibly important, because a user is going to appreciate you having an actual understanding of what it is they need, versus thinking you know what they need and then getting it wrong.

    I think there is a very crucial link between creative and data, and something that I think addresses this is Dynamic Creative Optimization, a form of programmatic advertising which gives you the ability to overlay different messages and creatives in lieu of just sending out a blanket statement.

    RampUp: What is your approach to optimization?

    Tesäen: The funny thing about optimization is that a lot of marketers can be hands-off, and it begs the question, do you give all the power to your agency to make these decisions on your behalf? Do you have a managed service team at the partner who was running these campaigns on your behalf? For me, something that’s incredibly important as a brand marketer is to make sure that you have the reins on the campaigns that you’re running and the ability to drive optimization, even if it’s not self-service.

    Another thing that is important to me is making sure you sit in on campaign-reporting calls. If a first-party segment is underperforming, figure out why, but in the meantime, turn it off. Don’t waste money on an audience that is not going to convert or is not moving as far down the funnel as you wish them to go.

    Optimization is definitely your best friend. I think you can never harm your campaign by—well, you probably could harm your campaign by over-optimizing—but I would say, make sure that you’re not afraid of optimizing. Any segment that’s turned off can always be turned back on.

    RampUp: What is the role of the DMP manager in all of this then? In theory, your role is anchored in segmentation, but it sounds like you are much more hands-on.

    Tesäen: My title is now Audience, Insights and Targeting Manager, which means I get to work with analytics; I get to work with ad tech, to build out these internal platforms; and I get to work with the marketers to make sure they have a full understanding of the data we have to work with. I get to partner with legal on data governance, too. I would say the role of the DMP manager is definitely expanding, but I think a lot of roles that are based around data are expanding because marketing in general is moving into a data landscape.

    RampUp: You mentioned the interplay between customer data platforms (CDPs) and DMPs in your session.

    Tesäen: CDPs are fascinating to me. I think the brand that I’m with now is in an interesting place because we utilize both an internal CDP and an external DMP. But a lot of brands have this conundrum of, should they be moving to an external CDP or should they keep using their DMP? I think their strengths and weaknesses are in two very different places.

    At your last RampUp event, there was a talk about data lakes. What’s interesting about data lakes is they can take the form of whatever you want them to be, so I think a lot of brands are now building out these data lakes that are taking on the form of a CDP. I think that’s incredibly important because you do want to leverage this data to make more informed marketing decisions.

    RampUp: What data are you collecting right now that you’re excited about and what data are you excited to soon be able to collect? What is the next step in data that you would love to see?

    Tesäen: I think for me, the most exciting form of data is the deterministic data. I like knowing that you can deterministically tie a user to an attribute. Something that I’ve been really interested in over the past few months is survey data.

    Second-party data is of interest as well—this is other brands’ first-party data that has been validated and tested. I think it’s incredible and definitely worth whatever the purchase price may be.

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