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Student Voices | Gathering Consumer Insights Through Data: Dell NextGen Approach

Graduate | Oct 18, 2022 |

By Mausam Shah, MSMI – October 2022

On September 21, 2022, Ellen Zaleski, Ph.D., was the first featured guest speaker for the Gabelli School of Business Marketing Area Industry Speaker Series. She is the global director for AdTech at Dell Technologies and previously worked as director of consumer insights at Diageo and director of consumer knowledge at Nike. Zaleski holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Fordham University. Her focus for this series was introducing the audience to data collection methods of insights, clarifying the meaning of insights, and providing information on modern AdTech processes. She shared a “Back to School” marketing challenge with the audience, focusing on three concepts: Target, Touchpoint and Timings.

To better understand approaching a media plan, Zaleski broke down the steps to address a problem in three ways: Exploration, Intelligence and Storytelling. Exploration focuses on identifying sources of insights and intelligence. Intelligence was further explained by breaking it down into four pillars: Consumer, Category, Brand and Culture. Finally, for storytelling it was suggested that thoughts should be structured by using, Who, What, Where, and Which.

Zaleski recalled her experiences at Diageo, discussing the custom brand-building toolkit. She advised that marketers should always start with understanding consumers. She also shared her experience in Motivation Segmentation and emphasized that mining social media data leads can help in the understanding of cultural contexts.

Zaleski also stated that the digitized world has only changed the approach to gaining insights and not the actual layers of the insights. Intelligence, she noted, focused on gaining insights into audience development. She walked those who attended the event through this process with examples that focused on the ‘why’ behind consumer language. Storytelling, she asserted, emphasizes building the persona, and she demonstrated how to use multiple sources for persona creation. She highlighted using digital tools such as social affinity mapping, social listening, Google search trends and Google customer match, while also sharing her experience of working with an ethnographer for social graphing.

Zaleski also spoke about a “cookie-less” future and said she believes there will be back and forth between customers and companies. She explained that customers want to feel known, but without trackable cookies. This, however, means that the customer experience won’t have the same level of personalization. It was exciting to see how AdTech and MarTech will adapt within this evolving space. Customer data platforms that help activate a personalized platform are becoming more critical as data management platforms prepare for a “cookie-less” world. Many brands are evaluating options and investing in new technology.

Zaleski’s main insight was that the NextGen AdTech Stack will combine AdTech and MarTech. Since so many decisions are driven by changes in the market, such as privacy, she emphasized the importance of using data layers to visualize insights to create a personalized customer experience.

Data alone doesn’t tell you the ‘why’, and savvy marketers know that the focus should be on understanding and resonating with a consumer. All steps are digitally focused, but the consumer is at the heart of everything because they are the ones making the purchasing decisions. Personalization and more meaningful exchanges are excellent ways to think about the changes in marketing now and in the future.

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