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Data versus the economy

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Economists are warning local business owners about tough times ahead. This usually leads to cuts in marketing and advertising, but ANDRE HUGO, CEO of M4JAM says that companies need to use data more effectively to target their customers.

At the moment, it is difficult to do business in South Africa. Following the Rand’s crash and predictions of a recession, economists warn business owners to brace themselves for tough times.

As businesses work hard to keep their doors open in these conditions, costs will be cut – and the first casualties are usually research and marketing. However, now more than ever these businesses need to understand and target their customers effectively so that they stand out from the rest.

Using data to improve business strategies

That’s where data comes in. It’s become an essential ingredient in business success whether you’re a Fortune 100 company or a nimble startup. In fact, 81% of marketers consider data to be a vital part of their marketing efforts, according to a global survey by the Global Alliance of Data-driven Marketing Associations (GDMA). The reason is that effective use of data is the key to improving and refining business strategies that result in campaign success and a higher ROI.

The real value of real-time data

The good news is that getting hold of this data doesn’t need to break the bank. Integrated advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, has harnessed real-time insights to inform some of its campaigns and pitches by making use of M4JAM’s JAMFACTORY. The JAMFACTORY allows businesses to create, manage and run their own research campaigns and source quality data and insights in real time, for a fraction of the cost of traditional research.

According to Managing Director of Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town, Luca Gallarelli, “Research is an invaluable tool for substantive marketing, but it has been a cumbersome and expensive business with long timelines and usually one shot only. With JAMFACTORY we can gain particular kinds of market intelligence off very short leads and get the results pretty much instantly, and do it so economically that we can go round again if we need further refinement in the data.”

The case for holding on to the marketing budget

This is a great example of a business that is exploring new, cost-effective strategies to drive business value and show its clients exactly why they should continue to include marketing in their budgets when the going gets tough. Adopting a data-driven marketing approach has allowed them to take functions of marketing that have previously not been quantifiable and develop a factual base on which marketing decisions can be made. They are using insights from customers and prospects to deliver targeted messages and content that will more effectively deliver greater results.

At the end of the day, these results translate into more money for the business. Effectively using data to gain customer insights means money well spent on better targeted campaigns. In fact, McKinsey has reported that organisations that place data at the centre of their marketing decisions see a 15-20% increase on marketing return on investment on average.

Data-driven business here to stay

Talking about data might be nothing new. However, as businesses brace themselves for the year ahead, it’s never been more important to find cost-effective ways to get hold of that data and turn it into an asset by making use of the real-time insights it offers and taking the right action as a result thereof.

There is no alternative for proper, detailed research – now more than ever, data trumps opinion.

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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