TechBytes with Barbie Koelker, VP Marketing at DISQO

TechBytes with Barbie Koelker, VP Marketing at DISQO
TechBytes with Barbie Koelker, VP Marketing at DISQO

Could you tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at DISQO?

I lead the Brand Marketing efforts for DISQO, a rapidly growing consumer-first insights platform that is moving market research forward. While DISQO helps marketers and researchers-tune in and listen to audience opinions and behaviors, I serve as a microphone: defining our voice, crafting our story, and otherwise driving discovery by shining a spotlight on the amazing solutions we offer — and the people who make it possible.

As I would describe it to my friends, I’m a marketer, Marketing Market Research solutions to other marketers.

How much has the AdTech industry evolved since you first started here? 

AdTech has evolved considerably since I first entered the industry in 2014. While it remains easy to become enamored by new ad formats or other momentary trends, the push for transparency has also grounded the industry in the pursuit of quality.

For too long, the typical ad platform deck touted the quality of its available inventory as a logo parade of traditional publishers, regardless of impression availability or ability to create a meaningful impact. As advertisers pushed for transparency, the industry found itself defending what had once been brushed under the rug: campaign KPIs are not dependent on the perceived prestige of the ad placement; they are dependent on the relevancy of your message at the time.

Similarly, as marketers have improved their tracking and reporting, age-old performance indicators have been put to rest. The volume of clicks is irrelevant to the CPA, and the CPA is irrelevant without a strong LTV and thus ROAS. Again, the industry is increasingly putting quality over quantity.

The same trend is emerging in the Market Research industry. As businesses make multi-million-dollar marketing and product decisions based on market research, they need those insights to be rooted in real, high-quality data. For the first time, people are scrutinizing their insights providers. Is the data first-party? Was it sourced ethically? Is it honest? Can I make a confident decision based on what I have discovered?

As a woman leading the Marketing team in the tech industry, what unique challenges and opportunities did you find in your journey? What message do you have for other women professionals in the Marketing Technology industry?

The advice holds regardless of gender or industry: remember your purpose, your values and your worth.

Will that short term campaign diminish your brand value in the long term? Will that artfully worded crisis communications mislead your audience and inevitably breed distrust? Are you deferring your efficacy simply because you failed to defend yourself, your team or your brand?

When you lead a Marketing team, you are a steward for your brand, your team and yourself. The future of each relies on the health of others.

Could you tell us about the consumer insights you recently showcased in your report?

Every day, marketers and researchers alike strive to better understand their audiences so that they might better attract, engage and retain them. In this pursuit, many turn to surveys to assess audience sentiment. For those surveys to provide actionable insights, they must be rooted in quality data, which requires — among other things — for responses to come from a fully validated and opt-in first-party audience. For this method of discovery to thrive, research audiences must be built in a way that is sustainable, which requires understanding the motivations, confidence, and aspirations of those who choose to participate in market research. This study provides a glimpse.

First, the study illuminates that the desire to be heard is unwavering. In an era where companies increasingly turn to chatbots to personify otherwise cold interactions, the expectation for true bidirectional communication between the consumer and the brand remains. In fact, 85% of people surveyed believe that brands should listen to their opinions.

While one would expect members of a research community to want their voices to be heard, what was more interesting was the confirmation that a vast majority (80%) of people believe that brands actually listen, suggesting confidence in the process.

Granted, there are a myriad of ways for people to share their opinion with brands. However, only 27% of people stated that they would share feedback directly with a company via customer support channels. Instead, people were more likely to share feedback via a survey (84%) or publicly via social media and review sites (59%). In short, people are more likely to provide feedback indirectly, placing the onus on brands to pay attention.

So why do people prefer to take surveys? Admittedly, the rewards offered are appealing for many (77%), which is aligned with our principle that sharing has value and that people must always be rewarded for the information they choose to share.

Beyond direct rewards, 76% of people are motivated to share their opinions by the prospect of either having their voice heard (60%) or making an impact (54%).

Unsurprisingly, motivators were well aligned with purpose, where we found that the vast majority of people take surveys to make an impact on the brands (86%) and products (87%) they use every day. Fortunately, they are also relatively confident in the impact they are making. Indeed, over three-fourths (76%) of people believe that the surveys they take have an impact on the products they use, and a modest majority (55%) believe their feedback impacts brands as a whole, as well.

How can Retail marketers and E-commerce brand managers leverage this report to plan next growth part in 2020-2022?

This report illuminates that our audiences want to be heard, and so marketers must both empower their audiences to share their opinions in ways they are most comfortable, reward them for sharing and sincerely listen to the feedback they receive.

Don’t expect every disgruntled shopper to contact customer support, and don’t limit the feedback you receive to these situations. There are countless opportunities to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns and foster happiness with your customers … if you’re willing to listen.

What kind of technologies are disrupting the modern e-commerce industries? 

In the past, major CPGs had limited visibility into how their campaigns drove performance on third-party retail sites. At DISQO, we have developed solutions that help these brands better understand the immediate impact of their campaigns, including shopping behaviors across a myriad of e-commerce sites. This empowers marketers to make timely, confident decisions to improve their campaigns and overall ROAS.

How do you see the worlds of MarTech, SalesTech and AdTech all coming together as one unified force to boost Retail industry? 

We will coalesce around quality. It’s not enough to generate a lead or close the deal; sustainable growth is rooted in quality relationships between businesses and their customers.

From a market research perspective, as we unify attitudinal and behavioral data to illuminate the nuances between what people say and do, we empower people to make smarter, more confident decisions that in turn foster positive relationships between brands and people.

Salesforce’s Connected Shopping Experience report was recently published. Do you think retail tech is too much dependent on delivering customer experiences online rather than improving interactions in the physical stores? How do you help fill the gap in these interactions between offline-online channels? 

Anywhere you can improve the customer experience is a smart pursuit. That said, people innovate where there is ample opportunity for growth and where the impact of their efforts can be easily measured. In this sense, it’s neither surprising nor concerning that retail tech is so focused on online customer experiences.

Every day, an increasing number of shoppers are turning to online solutions for what were traditionally only in-store experiences. The burgeoning online grocery industry is a prime example of this. In fact, DISQO recently presented on this topic with Kroger’s 84.51° at the Insight Association’s Corporate Researchers Conference, exploring how retailers can leverage passive behavioral data in conjunction with in-the-moment attitudinal data to better understand modern basket building and cross-shopping behaviors.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world? 

Ask yourself what you will do with the time you save and the efficiencies you gain. Will you seize the opportunity to more meaningfully connect with your audience? When in-market ad measurement and dynamic creative optimization streamlines your A/B testing and makes sending the right message at the right time easier than ever, will you use the time saved to listen? If you don’t, someone else will, and your audience is waiting to be heard.

Barbie Koelker is Communications and Marketing leader with over a decade of progressive experience managing brands and their campaigns, from 140 characters to 100+ pages.

She served as the Head of marketing for AUDIENCEX, leading all marketing, communications, and PR initiatives to foster brand recognition & lead generation.

disqo logo

DISQO is a consumer-first insights platform that delivers unprecedented data and analytics to the market research industry. The company powers insights professionals and marketers with automated solutions that drive consumer research and improve ad effectiveness. Today, DISQO delivers an accurate and complete view of the consumer via technology built on the foundation of the largest first-party research audience.

By engaging consumers who choose to share their attitudes and behaviors, DISQO captures the highest quality data, empowering its clients to make confident decisions. Founded in 2015, DISQO is headquartered in Los Angeles, California with over 120 employees.

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