Fast Food Brands Hungry For Data

Way before the pandemic kept us all inside—making “contactless” transactions a key value proposition for fast food—McDonald’s bought a data company with hopes of boosting sales at the point of purchase. When it bought Dynamic Yield for $300 million in 2019, one of the benchmarks for the deal was whether the recommendation platform could help increase drive-through sales in the U.S. by 1% overall.

Welp, it didn’t. And now McDonald’s is considering selling off some of the technology, in addition to helping U.S. franchisees recoup the $6 million (!!) they paid to actually use Dynamic Yield’s tech for over a year.

Meanwhile, Marketing Dive notes that Yum Brands (parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and other QSR favorites) acquired the AI division of Kvantum, a performance marketing firm. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Yum Brands will use the platform specifically for media planning and buying, and to measure campaign effectiveness. Also worth noting — they’re planning to implement the AI tech alongside recommendations from cultural and sociological consultants to ensure that the action plans are well … human!

It’s a tale of two MarTech acquisitions (driven by two distinct, data-driven marketing philosophies) … but there’s a clear implication for publishers.

The McDonald’s team thought data could help boost sales at the point of purchase—but maybe, personalized upsell recommendations work when people are in lean-back mode (think: browsing Amazon, Anthropologie, or some kind of custom unit on your website), not when they’re just trying to use an app or kiosk to grab a Big Mac.

Meanwhile, Yum Brands plans to incorporate consumer data into the mix well before the purchase is intended, with the primary goal being to help ensure that its (multi-million dollar) marketing budget is being deployed effectively. Of course, that includes evaluating the ROI of its ad placements on various media properties.

Different philosophies, but ultimately the same goal—marketers are still trying to leverage data to drive purchase decisions and decrease (or at the very least, evaluate) their media spend. As the cookie continues to crumble, publishers who can offer unique insights that either a: help drive purchases at the POS, or b: show how their content is an efficient path to the consumer, are the ones who will win.

It also shows that big brands are willing to go outside of the core buying and data platforms to get access to data and information that will drive sales. So maybe, just maybe, there’s an appetite for your site’s unique, first-party data offering, if you can package and serve it up for them on some kind of tech-enabled silver platter.