Home Data-Driven Thinking McDonald’s Venture Into Ad Tech Highlights The Importance Of First-Party Data

McDonald’s Venture Into Ad Tech Highlights The Importance Of First-Party Data


Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Christopher Hansen, chief operating officer at IgnitionOne.

While the McDonald’s acquisition of Dynamic Yield last month took some by surprise, the logic of a large enterprise marketer getting into the ad tech game makes complete sense.

McDonald’s has access to a ton of customer data through its mobile app and loyalty program, McCafé Rewards. But as I read articles detailing McDonald’s plans to incorporate Dynamic Yield’s technology, I was surprised by how much of the news was focused on improving a location’s signage and menus.

Perhaps McDonald’s was keeping its cards close or, perhaps, for a brand as large as it is, even small customer experience improvements can have huge benefit and ROI.

Regardless of the reason, McDonald’s is driving the conversation for big brands looking to leverage technology to improve their offerings. Target, Domino’s, Burger King and Starbucks are all focused on improving shopping experiences through customer data, but it’s important to understand exactly how to incorporate technology into an omnichannel marketing strategy.

For brand marketers to stay ahead of the curve, they must learn how to truly maximize the copious amounts of data at their fingertips. One way to get started is by looking at these brands that are getting it right.

Piece of the data pie

One brand that comes to mind immediately is Domino’s. The franchise has done a great job of embracing technology and using it to improve the customer experience. Its latest loyalty program, Piece of the Pie Rewards, offers consumers a fun and engaging way to earn reward points with any pizza, no matter the brand. By creating an opportunity for all consumers to get involved, Domino’s is capturing a wider customer base outside of its current customers.

The rewards program allows Domino’s to own the fulfillment process and customer profile details, including contact information and address. This means that Domino’s has the data and positioning to fully own the customer journey from end to end. The pizza chain has cleverly embraced mobile technology to build customer loyalty. As a QSR, Domino’s has been ahead of most in embracing and implementing technology.

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Target is a prime example of a retail brand leveraging technology to deliver personalized experiences both online and in stores. Its recently expanded loyalty program, Target Circle, now offers personalized rewards based on customer shopping patterns and data. Customers can earn rewards at checkout in stores or while shopping from their online accounts. There’s also a feel-good value attached, with a component that allows shoppers to vote for local charities to receive Target’s support. It’s this combination of convenience and the bonus of social good that results in a truly rewarding experience.

Target has also revolutionized the buy online and pick up in store approach to shopping. Customers can shop from the convenience of their homes and pick up their items at a local Target store. By creating an incentive for shoppers to visit physical locations, brand marketers can retarget customers once they arrive, based on collected customer data. These personalized messages can incentivize consumers to purchase additional items while building engagement and strengthening the relationship with the brand.

By understanding who their customers are based on their purchase history, retail marketers can then offer promotions that speak to each customer’s unique relationship with the brand, showing each shopper that you truly care about their business.

Have it your way

Burger King and Starbucks have also demonstrated how marketers can marry technology and data with the overall customer experience. In 2018, Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” stunt relied on mobile geofencing to take customers away from McDonald’s. Mobile users who ended up near a McDonald’s could order a Whopper for just 1 cent through the BK app. This was a genius idea to not only engage with current customers but also bring in new ones, all through tapping into location data.

With its rewards program and user-friendly app, Starbucks is expected to hold the lead in mobile payment through 2022, ahead of Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. The app has allowed Starbucks to gain even more data and get to know its customers better through unique purchasing habits. This includes preferred drinks, the time of day they’re most likely to order and the locations they frequent the most. All of this adds up to a comprehensive view of its customers and empowers Starbucks to deliver more personalized marketing and offer rewards that keep customers happy and coming back.

Brands, especially large legacy brands, need to wake up and smell the data. If they’re not using customer data to personalize individual experiences, they’re failing to build stronger relationships and reap greater ROI. Shoppers want to feel that brands understand who they are. It’s now on the brands to act on these needs.

Follow IgnitionOne (@IgnitionOne) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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