Cultural Differences Must Be Considered in Data Collection

Never present a clock as a gift to someone in China, and don't leave tips for service staff in Japan. Insights into these cultural differences can go a long way in arming brands with the right knowledge to roll out effective marketing campaigns; which definitely should not include Chinese ads promoting clocks as housewarming gifts.

In this week's industry byliner, Eyeota CEO Kevin Tan returns with a post that discusses the importance of factoring cultural differences in the collection and analysis of audience data, which can be especially challenging in diverse Asia.

In a programmatic environment, the more data you have, the better. However, the quality of data matters, too. The role of the human is also important as programmatic buying is still driven by human reasoning; but not all data vendors are the same in terms of reach, scale, or depth.

One important element is the ability to consider culture in their data analytics.

The world is made up of different individuals with varied backgrounds and cultures, adopting speech in a multitude of languages. Advertisers can only achieve maximum ROI (returns on investment) from their ad spend when they partner a data vendor with the expertise to factor in cultural and language differences across the data collection process.

Why is this important? Utilising humanised data can help brands deliver on-target messaging to the right user, at the right time.

The 'hyperlocal' approach

Culture is significant to online marketing because it sets the stage for strategic targeted marketing. Consumer behaviour is typically similar for certain demographics, therefore, most ad spend in the US, for instance, is targeted at a specific demographic that speaks one or two languages. It is easier to build a system at that scale to address 350 million people and disseminate the same language using the same approach.

Things shift dramatically when you start designing a system on a global level for seven billion people. This is when you need to consider the sheer scale of a global market – billions of people who speak hundreds of languages, thousands of different distribution systems, and millions of media channels and opportunities.

The key to making sense of all this is to go hyperlocal. As a data supplier, Eyeota strives to collect and understand data on a local basis. In order to do so, we need to be sensitive to the local culture and understand consumer behaviour in a local context. By keeping our fingers on the pulse of cultural factors impacting each market, we aim to achieve diversity and adapt to the local environment, which I believe puts us in an interesting position as a third-party data supplier operating on a global level.

With the fragmented nature of the Asian region and the complexity of local languages, it is challenging to collect quality data on a large scale. Particularly within Southeast Asia, and parts of Europe, a lack of local audience data has impeded targeted campaign planning at scale – until now.

If you look at the best marketers in the world that run brands like Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Volkswagen, and Unilever, they are similar in the specific way they adapt their marketing strategies specifically for different countries. From the time they decide to enter different markets, to analysing how people are influenced in their purchase decisions, up till the final point of purchase.

International brands need to adopt a hyperlocal approach when collecting data for each new market and understand the nuances of consumer buying habits. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work; particularly when you try to transplant a data collection strategy from the US to, say, Japan or China.

Take the automotive sector, for example, where advertisers are keen on audience data –particularly the intent segment – to make sense of their consumers' behavioural process in purchasing a new car.

The scenario of buying a car is very different for a consumer in the US, where cars are moderately priced, compared to Singapore, where one needs to factor in the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), which adds a substantial amount to the price of a car. With these economic differences in mind, the strategy of collecting and analysing data is very different from one market to another.

The Asia-Pacific region, for one, is one of the most diverse clusters of countries in the world, with many users proficient in several languages. The multitude of languages across the region makes it even more important to factor in these differences during the data collection process.

What this means is that advertisers need to know the languages of their target market in order to target the right user with the right ad.

It is only when localisation is part of the strategy can the data collection process operate based on the languages, norms, and metaphors used by a community. The localisation process also must capture the variances in the use of a language. Advertisers are more likely to obtain an accurate snapshot of their target audience with in-depth data that takes these differences into consideration.

The best way for data suppliers to collect audience data on a local basis is to partner locally relevant publishers and data owners. We have done so globally in Europe and the Americas, and across Asia-Pacific through our partnerships with publishers in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Data becomes more attuned to actual consumer behaviour by keeping in mind the nuances of cultures and languages in each market across the entire data collection process.

The world is made up of billions of individuals, but the one thing we have in common is the desire to be addressed on a personal level. With the right data, brands can remain relevant and engage consumers globally.