Discovery Digital realized how much it needed Facebook. And 1-800 Flowers has found new audiences on the fly that increased sales. Both claim that Big Data is behind it. Executives from both companies spoke yesterday at ad:tech New York, the two-day digital marketing conference being held this week- in spite of wind and snow in the tri-state area- about how data analytics are helping them come to the right conclusions about their businesses.
Discovery Digital- the online presence of media properties including the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, educational network TLC and HowStuffWorks-has learned from predictive analytics, for example, just how valuable Facebook is for the company. "Social is the glue in our cross-platform world," said Matt Crenshaw, VP of business operations & strategy, Discovery Digital Media at Discovery Communications, at a session on Big Data in a multi-channel world.
The media company has a very active Facebook presence, Crenshaw said, which has garnered some 70 million likes and makes about 1,500 posts a month. The page seeks not only to promote the brand but to drive as many users as possible to Discovery's media websites, where they can watch its television content among other things. But the company constantly keeps an eye on whether its efforts in that direction are worth the time investment.
That's when it turned to its data sources-drawn from Facebook, ad-serving sites and marketing and Web analytics and marketing company Omniture--to give it an answer. "We wanted to know, is this really good for business? What is the value of our Facebook effort?" said Crenshaw.
His conclusions: "Facebook users are our most valuable audience," consuming 60 percent more content than other users and coming back 50 percent more often than other users. "They are more engaged, come back more often, and share to twitter and FB more frequently. It's like a continuous loop of traffic," Crenshaw said.
1-800 Flowers has a totally different business model than a media property of course. It seeks to get users that visit its site to convert as fast as possible to buyers of its flowers. But it is also using analytics to help it tap into new audiences, which directly impacts sales.
"We're a direct response shop and we are held to a strict ROI metric," said Will Ferguson, senior director of online marketing, display advertising & social media at 1-800 Flowers. The company uses AddThis--which offers a toolbar that enables users to share content over Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere-to help it collect data from billions of search queries, domains and URLs. "We are able to leverage this data to introduce new audiences to our product," said Ferguson.
The company's business is characterized by huge spikes and seasonality, from the more orderly, predictable sales that come from purchasers of Mother's Day bouquets, to the last-minute, younger buyers who tend to impulse-buy flowers on Valentine's Day. What the company needs is data on its audience in real-time that clues it in on buyer behavior. Ferguson said that on a recent Valentine's Day, such data had helped 1-800 Flowers achieve five times the normal return and increase conversions by 100 percent over a 48-hour period.
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
March 19, 2014