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Personalisaton: the new holy grail of marketing

By JASON LIEBENBERG, business unit director at Hoorah Digital



The long and short of personalisation is that every piece of creative should be data led. It’s an approach that is simpler than it sounds, but ultimately more effective than conceptualising something based on what we think we know and what we think people want. But thanks to the proliferation of data, there’s no need to guess because the information is available. It simply needs to be collected and interpreted. 

When data first became a thing, the receiver’s name in the email was the extent of it (and pretty impressive at that). But as both the technology and the consumer become more sophisticated so too does the need for marketing communication that not only calls you by name, but also speaks to your individual needs, preferences and, if the marketer is really savvy, your whims. 

Data takes the guesswork out of marketing and advertising, and helps us instead to create campaigns that speak to an understanding of who the customer is, where they are, and what their needs and preferences are. When creativity is able to engage customers in an authentic and relevant way, the potential return on investment for the brand is also far higher, which means less (easy to ignore) marketing “fluff” clogging up the consumer’s inbox. 

And thanks to data we are able to take personalisation to engaging new heights. When a hyper personalised campaign is strategically conceptualised and thoughtfully executed, the results are significant, as we saw with a campaign we created for Audi. 

By utilising the data Audi made available about their customers we were able to mine that information to create a personalised video to remind them when their vehicle warranty was due for renewal or extension. The video addressed the vehicle owner by name, referenced their specific Audi model, the date or kilometre reading at which the warranty would expire, as well as the dealership at which the vehicle was purchased.

This data was the crux of the message and allowed us to create a personalised video for the individual, that addressed his or her specific vehicle concern. The data was the foundation around which the creative was developed. 

What this did for Audi was to up the perception of value around its brand and service. Across the board we’re finding that hyper personalisation has a higher perceived value, which sees higher levels of engagement and a “how did they do that?” reaction that, in turn, encourages action. 

It’s useful to briefly consider the psychological effect of personalisation. Our names are among the first words we learn as children and is, as Dale Carnergie, celebrated self-improvement specialist, famously said, “a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. When we see a piece of communication with our name, and that demonstrates an understanding of our needs and wants, we tend to feel “wow, this was created for me” and immediately our inclination for interacting with the brand increases. 

Data has the potential to help us make magic. But first the data needs to be transparently and effectively collected, analysed and interpreted in a way that is relevant to the objectives of the brand and the needs of the customer. 

Another example to illustrate what personalisation can do it to imagine what it can do for a toy shop. Quality data would offer information of the shopper’s monthly spend and the sorts of things they are buying in terms of the child’s age and gender. 

This dataset could help to automatically render a video of all the products that meet a given criteria. The data effectively helps the marketer to speak to their clients about the things they have proved to have an interest in, and in a price bracket that they are comfortable with. 

Personalisation lends the creativity to curiosity and intrigue, a gold standard for any marketing message. But for personalisation to be effective, and this is where many brands are still lagging behind, the data needs to be relevant and organised in a sensical way. It needs to be specific, it needs to be useful and it needs to be protected.


TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.


Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup



It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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