07. Thomas Palugan, Data Consultant

Data consultant for Ogilvy, Thomas Palugan has several years experience in researching and using social media platforms and mobile apps to help companies organize their branding strategy and communicate with their consumers. 

What’s your job’s role in advertising? The creative and commercial departments contribute fun ideas and viral videos. Data consultants contribute mathematics and data collection techniques. Data consulting is a small but important part of advertising. For companies in general, I’m involved in strategic branding:

  1. Determining how companies want to talk to their consumer, and 
  2. How companies can use Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and other social media platforms, and mobile apps to get their message across.

I help companies manage their back-office (what data is available, how to create a database, from long-term how to use data to be more relevant, how plaforms interact and fit into global campaign and brand strategy…).

Why is this important? Because for strategic branding to be successful in the long-term, companies need to know:

  1. How to use the various social media platforms to collect and analyze data on each platform the company is represented on,
  2. How to make this data relevant to be more attractive for their consumers, and
  3. How to talk with their consumers using a 1-to-1 strategy. 

As companies collect data, they will be more efficient if they interpret and use that data correctly. This isn’t just linked to one advertising campaign, but for advertising in general.

What’s a misconception people have about the industry? One mistake a lot of brands make is thinking that social media strategy is easy to set up, but thinking it’s easy is not good. As soon as you have a facebook fan page, you suddenly have to handle important issues like:

  1. “What is my community management style?”
  2. “What is my conversation calendar?” 
  3. “What is the real value for the consumer of becoming new fan?”
  4. “How can I distinguish between fans who are merely fans and fans who are also buyers and owners of my product, service, or royalty program?”

As soon as you have a fan page, you also have to have a crisis strategy. Because as you’re opening a page, you’re letting the possibility for everybody and anybody to talk with you, but also to critique or insult you. You need to find a way to be reactive and manage this kinds of situations.  Opening a facebook page and simply posting things isn’t a safe solution.

Also, considering which and how many social media platforms you communicate on is also an important decision that depends on:

  1. Your demographic/target audience.
  2. The market you’re in. For example Pinterest has a real impact in the US market, but in France it’s still a relatively new platform. Therefore creating a Pinterest platform in France, you need to have content, pictures, movies to animate the platform, and think of what is the real interest in having a Pinterest account if you already have a Facebook fan page. Again, what’s the added value for the consumer of following both social media platforms?

Finally, it’s really difficult to have a consolidated view of your market. If you’re a brand and you have 20 platforms, it’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to have a consumer-centric view.  It’s also very important NOT to have a vertical strategy for each social media platform, but to link them all together. If you’re going to have that many platforms, you’re going to need an approch to help you organize all your data into one easy-to-read location so you can collect and analyse the data from the different social media platforms.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned from advertising? Don’t neglect form over content.  Even if you have strong ideas and very good solutions, one of the issues you need to deal with is the way you’re presenting your ideas. It’s one thing to have a good idea, but you also need to be good at explaining and presenting them. 

You’re losing your audience if you’re unable to deliver a clear approach. It’s really easy to lose 90% of the people who are listening to you.  For example, you could have the best content in the world, but with an ugly website, people will leave your website because it’s ugly.  

What websites do you often go to for ideas/inspiration? Forrester and TNS-Sofres offer a lot of market analysis, consumer satisfaction barometers, brand health trackers, data, and insight into the French, European, and global markets.  Some articles you must pay for, but some are also free. 

I also use my colleagues. They all work with different clients and I don’t know them all. So in some cases if I’m dealing with an issue, perhaps a colleague has already had a similar issue 6 months ago. So for me it’s really a strength to work in an agency with so many benchmarks and so much experience from all the different projects. You’re probably not the first person to have the problem that you’re having.

What is one of your favorite advertising campaigns? Here are two:

I have a small advertising budget, any advice? If you haven’t got a heavy budget, then use a 1-to-1 approach on a very targeted demographic.  Make clever parternships with other brands and exchange consumer contact details to send emails to them and bring you visibility to a specific audience. 

Another idea is to adopt a local approach. For example, if you have a store and only one in France, just make posters in your neighborhood and have visibility for people in your street.  Use a geographical and very targeted approach for people who are interested in your business.

Also, data is the future of advertising. If you understand the importance of and utilize data collection, treatment, and how to incorporate it into your branding strategy, then you have a strong chance of becoming a leader in the next few years. 

Advice for someone who wants to do your job: Don’t just study marketing, also study mathematics.  A lot of people want who work in adverting and they mainly study marketing in schools of commerce. But for our job, you must study scientific engineering.

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