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As you saw in Part 1 of the 2019 Yale Customer Insights Conference Recap, the first three discussions focused on using technology to connect with consumers and elevating the role of consumer insights. In Part 2, discussions continued on the role of consumer insights, as well as how CMOs look at their digital marketing strategies. 

Radha Subramanyam: Chief Research & Analytics Officer, CBS Television

"Don't merge the data. Merge the insights."

As we know from the panel discussion, there is an abundance of data available to insights teams. According to Radha, the role of the insights team is to summarize that data in a meaningful way and provide the C-suite team with actionable items. In fact, she writes a daily email to the C-suite with 5-10 summary bullets that she and her insights team have gathered from the vast amounts of data available.

Yale 2019 Radha SubramanyamAs it relates to insights in the TV industry, applying learning from insights is an art and a science. In effect, a TV pilot episode is like a prototype—the first iteration of a product that is reviewed, which determines if the studio continues producing new episodes. There is plenty of consumer data to drive decisions. But you have to balance that data with the art of filmmaking, because at the end of the day, a TV show is a piece of art. If television studios had listened solely to the reviews on pilot episodes, we wouldn’t have Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones, or Family Guy.

My main takeaway from Radha’s talk is a quote I’ll never forget. When discussing all the different forms of data sets she receives, she said, “Don’t merge the data, merge the insights.” It’s a minor distinction that creates a huge impact. If you merge data, you might lose an insight that was evident with the solo data set—but when you take two insights from separate data sets, the combined learning can be very powerful.

Linda Schupack: President of Marketing, AMC Network



A lot has changed since the days of Mad Men—and I'm not talking about the 1960s. Rather, I mean 2007, when the first episode aired on AMC. Mad Men wasn’t a response to what consumers wanted, but an artistic vision from the writers and the trust AMC placed in them. And it paid off big, catapulting the show to success. Back then, the marketing tactics were classic—TV commercials, billboards and magazine placements led the way. The problem with these techniques is that there’s no way to measure the exact impact each is making. Compare that to today, where digital advertising tracks who sees what, who clicks what, and who ends up purchasing.

And just as Radha Subramanyam mentioned, deciding which TV shows to greenlight is a balance of art and science. What you can do is analyze creative using data, which is exactly what AMC did with The Walking Dead. A lot of people question paying $3 million for a 15-second super bowl ad, but AMC did just that for The Walking Dead. And afterward, they saw a huge spike in viewership. Through creative work in their super bowl ad, they were able to use real data to analyze its effectiveness, therefore combining the art and the science.


Challenges Facing CMOs in Today’s Age of Digital Marketing: A Panel Discussion

Seth Farbman - Former Chief Marketing Officer, Spotify;
David RubinChief Marketing Officer, The New York Times.
Moderated by Jon Iwata, former SVP of Communications & Chief Brand Officer, IBM

Seth Farbman kicked off this discussion by talking about how Spotify has enabled artists' access to their listeners. Notice how he didn’t say Spotify has enabled listeners' access to artists—because while this statement is true, it’s the former that he was focused on at the Yale Customer Insights Conference. Artists now know exactly when people are listening, how long they’re listening, at what point in songs listeners drop off, geographic locations and more. This enables them to see where they have the strongest fan base and focus on those locations for tours, maximizing their profits through tickets and merch.

On the other end, the listeners are able to discover all types of music, whenever they want. And it’s this act of discovery that Spotify looks to harness. It’s essentially free marketing—somebody discovers a new artist, they want to be the first person to find the artist, and they tell all their friends. The discovery perpetuates in waves, yielding more listeners on Spotify without Spotify having to spend marketing money.

David Rubin focused on The New York Times’ marketing overhaul. In the past, if you saw an NYT ad, it usually had a simple offer: “50% off your New York Times Subscription.” The goal was to get people to sign up by discounting the subscription. As the news industry saw a seismic shift in how the public consumed the news, David realized they needed to change their strategy. Enter The Truth is Hard campaign.


The campaign began during a rather divisive presidential election—which definitely fueled the campaign's success. The heart of the marketing shift was that The New York Times made their business and their mission the same: Finding the truth. Before, their business was subscribers. Now, their business is providing the truth—especially in a saturated digital news climate. NYT has to convince their readers to pick them over other publishers—free publishers.

The common thread between Spotify and The New York Times is that consumer emotion drives a connection. For The New York Times, people are passionate about politics and the news. This passion allows NYT to connect with readers on a deeper level, establishing trust. For Spotify, they have the power of music. They even capitalized on one of the most powerful emotions: Nostalgia.

In 2017 Spotify rolled out personalized playlists for each of their listeners—you can see mine above—titled “Your Time Capsule.” Since they knew all of their listeners birth dates, they knew when each of them were in high school—the time that most people are actively engaged with music. Couple that with the data they have on genre preferences, and they have the perfect playlist to channel nostalgia on the individual level.

And finally, continuing with the art and science theme, Spotify mined data for funny and ironic playlists and listening habits down to the individual level. They then took that data and turned it over to creative to produce compelling ads. Combining the data they had available and the creative talent in house, they created a highly successful ad campaign—which also happened to generate some buzz on social media.

Don't forget to check out Part 1 of our 2019 Yale Customer Insights Conference Recap, and check back soon for the third and final installment!

Want to attend the Yale Customer Insights Conference next year? Subscribe to Ideas To Go (see top of this post) for exclusive discounts on conference tickets. Interested in what went down at the conference in 2018? Check it out here.

Tyler Thompson

Tyler Thompson is a Creative Process Designer and Facilitator at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.