How Big Data Brings Marketing and Finance Together
When Raja Rajamannar became CMO of MasterCard Worldwide in 2013, he moved quickly to transform how the credit card giant measures marketing. His artillery: Advanced Big Data analytics. MasterCard had always been a data-driven organization. But the real power and full potential of data was not being fully realized by marketing.
Rajamannar involved finance early. To spearhead analytic efforts, he assigned a finance person — who was already embedded in marketing — to create an ROI evaluation framework and integrated her deeper into the marketing function. With a better understanding of the marketing context, she has brought a new level of financial discipline and rigor to the marketing team. This has reframed the conversation to balance the interests of both sides.
For example, in the credit card business, understanding the importance of deals with issuing banks is critical. While marketing might focus on maximizing card transactions, or swipes, finance understands that not all swipes are equal (depending on the deal with a given bank). Likewise, marketing wants to clearly quantify the impact of its long-term branding efforts while finance is more focused on macro-economic drivers of marketing performance, such as interest rates, employment levels, inflation and retail sales.
At many companies we work with, analytics becomes the connective tissue between the different visions of what drives results emerging from marketing and finance. Combining data from both marketing and finance, analytics reveals the true picture of what drives marketing performance, and connects marketing to revenue.
Consider Intel, which began eyeing Big Data’s potential to quantify marketing’s contribution to revenue in about 2010. As an ingredient brand, Intel often struggled to link marketing to P&L impact. But David Ginsberg, VP, Corporate Insights, Brand and Strategy, saw the potential for analytics to create a bridge between marketing and finance by illuminating marketing’s impact on sales — the focal point of where marketing and finance meet.
Intel formed a special Marketing ROI (MROI) team — a first-of-its-kind collaboration between marketing and finance. The result has been transformational. Intel’s research team, for example, has been rebuilt as an analytics and strategic insights team that identifies, collects and harnesses unprecedented amounts of the company’s data. This now provides its marketing teams globally with predictive decision-making capabilities they never had before. Financial accountability for marketing performance has become front and center. Marketing and finance share a fully transparent analytics platform that all parties can access to run what-if scenarios, optimize marketing-dollar allocations across products and markets, and get course-correcting feedback on the performance of those allocations.
In one instance, we worked with both Intel and Facebook to quantify how the chip maker’s social media marketing on Facebook affected consumer PC sales. This targeted effort showed that paid Facebook ads and the company’s own unpaid (organic) Facebook postings increased Intel brand and product search volume by 1.9%-2.3% — which in turn led to increased PC sales.
Organizational Anachronisms Exposed
Similar reform in the relationship between marketing, finance and analytics is taking place across many sectors — from manufacturing and retail, to financial services, travel and entertainment, pharmaceuticals and toys. Analytics has exposed organizational anachronisms such as adversarial marketing-finance relationships and a focus on traditional year-long planning (instead of constant optimization) in marketing groups little changed for decades. This has spurred re-thinks that include changes to key executive relationships.
At Mattel, another company we work with, a cross-functional group of executives from insights, brand, marketing, media, digital and finance now meets regularly to adjust spending allocation plans based on modeling and analytic results, says Ed Gawronski, Global SVP. This has brought agreement on a common set of ROI metrics and helped facilitate decision making about investing in short-term sales versus brand equity.
In effect, analytics creates a common language between marketing and finance for the first time by allowing the two functions to clearly see marketing’s impact on financial performance. Consider how USAA — the nation’s 6th largest consumer P&C insurer — has reinvented how marketing, finance and data analytics work together, starting with a first-ever partnership between the CMO, CFO and Chief Data Analytics officer.
Roger Adams, CMO says: “As USAA developed into a data-driven organization, we were able to accurately predict the impact of different marketing investment decisions. It’s completely reframed the conversation.” Forrester Research recently published a case study describing how USAA’s new partnership between marketing, finance and analytics has helped deliver better business insights.
At Neustar MarketShare, we’ve seen these partnerships play out in a change in who’s sitting at the table during discussions with major brands about advanced marketing analytics technology. Once mostly marketing, it’s now equal parts marketing, finance and analytics. In some cases, finance even leads a vendor selection process once dominated by marketing.
Companies that fail to update their marketing organizations and continue using antiquated measurement solutions are at risk of being left behind. New marketing-finance relationships combined with advanced analytics technology are increasing efficiency and delivering “found” dollars to the bottom line. Short of creating a killer new product or service, there are few ways a big company can move the needle quite so dramatically.
Originally published in Harvard Business Review in July 2014.