Publisher Forum Keynote DeLu Jackson: Leveraging Relevant User Data to Create Customer-Focused Brands

Many people preach the sentiment of quality over quantity, but has the ad tech industry always put that into practice when it comes to reaching their most relevant audience?

While having a mass amount of data to pull from can be useful to any publisher, making sure you have data that is relevant to your customer base is much more important. 

DeLu Jackson, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at ADT, will speak to this point of view during his Fireside Chat at Publisher Forum Nashville. Entitled, “Reach Is Dead, Long Live Relevance: How Buyers and Sellers Use Triggers to Reach and Engage Audiences,” the discussion will highlight “how buyers and sellers can work better together to focus on the dynamic nature of data that’s available to them to actually reach the right consumer at the right time.”  

DeLu has over two decades of experience working as a marketer for brands such as Conagra, Kellogg Company, McDonald’s, Nissan, and now ADT as the SVP and Chief Marketing Officer. With his experience in many different industries–automotive, retail, food–he has been able to market and cater to audiences searching for a variety of essential and desired products. 

“I have learned alot from the diversity of brands I got to work with, from financial services, automotive, startups, apparel and retail,” said DeLu. “Even thinking back to my time working as a consultant with an amazing company like Prophet, I learned how to think about the practical application of all the insight and knowledge to help these businesses become successful. It became a way for me to think about applying that knowledge to any business in any circumstance.” 

DeLu’s Epiphany: “We Are All Serving the Same Customer”

Through his lived career experience and meteoric rise, DeLu Jackson reminisced about landing on a profound “aha moment” that completely changed his perspective about his career. He saw a common thread through all of the industries that he was working with–the customer. At the beginning of his career, DeLu was trained to think that his audience was only specific to his brand. Further wisdom changed his preconceived notion. 

“The difference is that you start to understand that it’s the same customer, the same family or the same household, but those brands serve different needs for them,” said DeLu. “Each new industry I moved across, I kept coming to the realization that this is the same customer. You have to figure out how the brand fits into their basket of goods.” 

This specific epiphany came to DeLu at a pivotal transition in his career. He was moving from the automotive industry to take a position as the VP Global Digital at McDonald’s and was asked if moving from two seemingly unrelated industries would be a tough transition for him.

Through this query, DeLu was able to make a connection between the user experience of both Nissan and McDonalds’ customers. For example, when designing a car, he knew that Nissan made big cup holders to allot space for huge drinks that people would buy at the McDonald’s drive through.

On the other side of things, he knew that Mcdonalds only put small amounts of sauce in the middle of a burger because a lot of their customers eat while driving and this prevented them from making a mess. For him, it showcased practical reasons that two separate brands could be serving the same customer.

“This is a customer journey thing,” says DeLu. “That to me is the magic of customer experience. Understanding the role we play for customers and really thinking about that.” 

Using Relevant Data to Determine Audience Needs

At the end of last year, DeLu started his role at ADT. While he was making his own career transition, ADT was also going through a transformation.

ADT began a partnership with Google working towards the goal of bolstering their subscription growth and improving their user experience. The technology and data assets were an important variable to starting this collaboration, but for DeLu, the essential nature of this partnership was leveraging that technology to assist in ADT’s larger mission. ADT’s higher purpose as a brand is to make sure that families, business and communities are safe. 

With the data that ADT and Google were able to accumulate from customer feedback and behavior, they were able to determine how to exactly execute their company’s mission. 

“These companies have a tremendous amount of intelligence and data to help identify what’s most useful to customers,” said DeLu. “From their feedback or behavior, we can begin to understand the things customers want to protect in order to create the best experience for our users. We have the ability to identify those triggers through that data which is key.” 

The Importance of Having a Customer-Focused Brand

With all of the knowledge that DeLu Jackson has accumulated over the span of his career as a marketer, one of the most important lessons he learned was that, no matter the industry, brands need to align with customers’ needs instead of forcing their brand vision to disrupt the consumers’ way of life.  

In hindsight of all of his experiences, DeLu could see the common thread that connected all of the different industries he worked for. Despite the change in technology where digital mediums have allowed brands to accumulate a greater amount of data than ever before, it is essential to hone in on how to properly use that information for the benefit of the customer more than the volume of data that you have. 

“So what I learned along the way is to be more deliberate about what data you need, and what data you can actually use. It’s about the quality and the value of the data to the circumstance in which we can actually utilize it,” said DeLu.

“I always tell people to start with little data, and try to do something valuable with that little data for the customers and for your organization. You’ll find yourself sitting on more data than most of us can manage. So don’t start with volume as the goal, but start with value as the goal. That will allow us to make it a lot more manageable and tangible, including the impact in a positive way.”