Manu Mathew
Manu Mathew 6 July 2018

The Digital Dozen - Manu Mathew, Co-Founder and CEO, Visual IQ, a Nielsen Company

The Digital Dozen is a series of profile interviews with thought leaders in the technology industry. Here we speak with Manu Mathew, Co-Founder and CEO, Visual IQ, a Nielsen Company, about his career path and how companies can make their marketing more effective.

Can you explain your role at Nielsen’s Visual IQ and your background in the digital industry? 

As Co-Founder and CEO of Visual IQ, a Nielsen company, I’m focused on driving the company’s growth and helping advertisers address the performance and optimisation challenges inherent in multi-channel marketing. The idea for Visual IQ began in the early 2000s while I was working at one of the major advertising agencies. I wanted to use data to demonstrate how campaigns were impacting business goals. Intuitively, I knew that different marketing channels and tactics had an impact on each other’s performance, but didn’t know how much or in what proportions, and no technology existed that could answer those questions.

So, in 2006, I decided to create Visual IQ, alongside my Co-Founder Anto Chittilappilly. Our algorithmic data analysis process, eventually dubbed TrueAttribution, quickly produced results, so we packaged the models and resulting metrics into a software interface that provided marketers with vital insight into the efficiency and effectiveness of their marketing spend. As digital grew, we continued to expand. Then last year, after spending ten-plus years building the business, Visual IQ was acquired by Nielsen. We’re thrilled to be a part of the Nielsen family, and together, we look forward to providing increased value to our clients, and a more powerful combined solution to the industry as a whole.

Nielsen Visual IQ is the leading provider of marketing effectiveness solutions – how do you help companies make their marketing more effective?

Today, the marketing landscape is more complex than ever, and consumers are more demanding than ever. To maximise marketing effectiveness, marketers need to make accurate, data-driven decisions about their strategies, audiences, tactics and timing, so they can create the best experiences for their customers, and the greatest returns for their business.

But different roles require different levels of insight, at different speeds, in order to be effective. At Nielsen Visual IQ, we combine the power of diverse analytic approaches, so marketing teams have access to the right insights, at exactly the right time to support any marketing decisions. From optimising strategic investments across channels, to optimising each individual touchpoint along the consumer journey, our integrated marketing effectiveness solutions provide the sophisticated intelligence marketing teams need to optimise performance and drive their business forward.

What are the key benefits of people-based marketing and the barriers to implementation? 

Marketers are under increasing pressure to show the impact of their investments.  To meet the demand for greater accountability, they need to be able to prove that their messages are reaching the right people and driving measurable results. This makes it vital for marketers to know consumers as individuals and understand their unique end-to-end journeys across channels, touchpoints and devices. Getting a holistic view of each consumer based on his or her unique attributes and interactions with a brand is the foundation of people-based marketing.  

The tremendous power of people-based marketing is the ability to target real people, versus generic buyer personas. Understanding who your prospects and customers are, what they like, and how they behave is the key to delivering tailored messages and offers that meet their unique needs and preferences. When marketers are able to master the fundamentals of people-based marketing, consumer experiences are better, conversions increase, and lifetime value goes up.

Yet this approach is not without its challenges. Accessing and collecting data can be a complicated process — particularly under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — and consumer demand to know what happens to personal information is understandably high. Marketers using the people-based method therefore need to ensure they respect user preferences, have an established privacy policy and stay up-to-date with all legal regulations in order to implement a responsible strategy.

How is multi-touch attribution changing things for brands?

For too long marketers have been focused on individual channel performance and last-touch attribution, but this siloed approach doesn’t provide a holistic view of an individual’s interactions with a brand and can lead to flawed reporting that discounts the impact of other channels. For example, a marketer that leverages a last-touch attribution model might decide to stop investing in online display advertising and other upper-funnel tactics due to a perceived lack of performance.

Multi-touch attribution has revolutionised marketing measurement by enabling marketers to accurately assign credit to all the marketing touchpoints along the consumer journey that influenced a desired business outcome, such as a lead or sale.  Marketers can then use these insights to make more effective and efficient planning and optimisation decisions for future campaigns, as well as those already in flight.

Multi-touch attribution is also critical for brands who want to deliver on the promise of people-based marketing. When marketers are able to combine the profile data they have about their customers and prospects with tactical marketing performance, they gain unparalleled insight into the creative messages, offers and tactics that drive desired behaviours and outcomes by audience. Marketers can then apply this insight to optimise the consumer experience and make smarter investment decisions within and across channels to drive conversions, brand engagement, revenue, and other desired business results.

How do you see the martech industry evolving over the next few years?

Digital is changing every day and keeping up with new developments is paramount. Over the next few years I believe the importance of multi-touch attribution will only increase as marketers look to focus their efforts on attracting and retaining high-value customers. For most companies, the top 20% of customers drive 80% of sales, so it makes sense to allocate spend to those efforts that attract the most loyal customers. When marketers are able to understand which combination of marketing and advertising channels and tactics work best for each type of audience, they’ll be able create a more “human” connection with customers and prospects while increasing their long-term value to the business in the process.

At the same time, traditional offline advertising isn’t going away anytime soon, and marketers need a comprehensive view of marketing performance if they want to maximise revenue and return. Yet marketers often choose between marketing mix models that offer scale and coverage, and multi-touch attribution models that offer granularity and speed. Holistic performance measurement requires both types of models. Going forward, look for more holistic, audience-based measurement solutions to emerge that combine the power of multiple modelling methodologies. By integrating approaches, these solutions will deliver the speed, precision, accuracy and foresight marketers need to support any marketing decision and improve lift and ROI across all marketing investments.

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