For Hershey’s, the pandemic impacted Easter, the company’s biggest buying season which meant throwing their existing media playbook out of the window. New strategies emerged and carried the brand through to Halloween, the next big surge in candy consumption. “One of the use cases for some incredibly granular data was getting numbers back from retail channels almost at the store level that showed where there was excess inventory versus where there isn’t, and then leveraging things like programmatic media buys to direct more media into those locations where it wasn’t going as well as we wanted it to,” said Chappell. “That’s what got people to say, ‘Wow, if we start to dig into this data more, what other use cases can we find that can bring incremental commercial value to the company?’”
It’s not data for data’s sake, it’s data for solving specific business use cases. “The key to success is knowing how much to bank on the data you’re receiving immediately versus the long term,” said Marshall. She added, “Some data you look at and have patience for because it’s not something that anyone is going to act on today, or in a month.” From a technology standpoint, Marshall emphasized the importance of looking at partners that can help solve and answer questions about short- and long-term decisions, especially now that the company is starting to invest in things that are slower to burn.
Chappell agreed that ad tech solutions provide broader insights into data. “The more that we can see across an open ecosystem what’s performing, we’re able to make smarter, better decisions both in the short and long term. Once you see the power of that you get kind of hungry and you want to see more.”