It’s hard to overstate how transformative the acquisition of market intelligence company Metrostudy was for Hanley Wood since the deal closed in 2013. To say that data services has moved to the center of the company’s media operation can, in one sense, be illustrated by the sell-off of the exhibition business in 2014. In another sense, you just have to hear Hanley Wood CEO Peter Goldstone describe the company’s 2.5 million record database himself: “Where the company used to be a collection of media and event brands, now the crown jewel is the database.”
Since acquiring Metrostudy, Hanley Wood has moved aggressively into what Goldstone describes as data as a service—DaaS. Many companies jumped on the big data bandwagon, but it’s one thing to say how central data is to your business, it’s another to operationalize it. So Folio: spoke with Goldstone and Andy Reid, president of Hanley Wood Digital, to look at how, exactly, Hanley Wood has shifted its database to the center of its business, and how it’s not only the link between media and marketing services, it’s the gateway to a host of go-to-market services the company can provide their marketing partners.
Goldstone says one-third of the company’s revenues are tied to marketing services, which are now directly supported by the database. Hanley Wood recognized that construction company and brand CMOs have been trying to build their own customer databases, but lack the discipline and institutional knowledge to do it well.
A major aspect of this is accountability. Marketers want splashy cross-platform campaigns, sure. But they also want them to be highly efficient with measurable ROI. “It’s certainly supported by advertising and marketing services and events, but all that money gets more efficiently spent and ROI gets realized when you have a pristine database that supports your go-to-market strategy,” adds Goldstone.
“They’ve got flawed databases. So we’re opening our database up to clients to marry our data with their data to help them be more successful with their go-to-market strategy. It informs lots of tactics that they can then pursue based on the new value of the database services they have access to through Hanley Wood,” he says.
The database is fully centralized, adds Reid—it’s collecting all the usual audience demos, purchase and engagement data and layering it with Metrostudy’s market research, field studies and government data. But what’s being monetized is not raw data. “It’s not just the raw licensing of our data,” says Reid. “It’s the continuing engagement of the marketplace. What are the keywords [customers] are searching for? Are they a high-propensity buyer? Those are insights a raw name alone can’t provide.”
Next, comes the activation. After Hanley Wood helps the marketer understand who to sell to, it helps with the marketing. “It’s one thing to understand, it’s another to actually get in front of them. We’ll help target with our email, in-person, our network of sites and even outside of our network of sites,” Reid says. The advantage of this approach is its long-term application. Hanley Wood’s database becomes integral to the customer’s CRM platform, necessitating multi-year time horizons on the partnership.
“A lot of it is a scaled investment issue,” says Reid. “We are investing millions every year to continue to build out the database on behalf of clients. Very few of them can pull off this investment on their own. There is a broader economic rationale for clients to work with us because to pull that off on their own is not feasible.”