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“Marketers want to connect all the dots—that’s the Holy Grail that everyone is seeking,” says Caroline McGuckian, CEO of Meshh. The leading global spatial analytics SaaS and technology provider, Meshh was recently acquired by Limelight Platform in a move that provides Limelight clients with a complete, end-to-end view of event attendee journeys and environments. This industry-first capability will allow the Canadian-based experiential analytics organization to marry active, opted-in data with passive, anonymous data, making it easier to clearly tie consumer experiences and behaviours directly (and indirectly) to ROI and KPI goals—hitherto a notoriously challenging exercise for marketers.
Still, McGuckian is quick to point out, it’s not all about the numbers. “With experiential, you must always remember you’re talking about customers, not data sets.” Whether it’s a concert, an auto show, or a retail activation, the customer-comes-first model must be carefully protected; experiential data capture efforts can’t be fragmented or disjointed. “You need to strike a balance with permissible first-party data marketing and maximising data collection. For example you can’t ask someone to check in after every action they take at an event.”
Recently, we sat down with McGuckian and Terry Foster, CEO of Limelight, to discuss how the combined capabilities of their organizations’ Best-in-Class technologies help marketers create better consumer experiences based on the full spectrum of data and insights.
No channel has the same potential for tapping into the true value of human connection as experiential, but traditionally, no marketing channel was as difficult to measure accurately and accountably. Until now. “There weren’t established metrics like there are in other media,” says Foster. “Marketers haven’t been able to demonstrate ROI in the way clients have come to expect a see when making investment decisions.” With the acquisition of Meshh, Limelight can now help marketers mitigate this challenge.
Previously, Limelight enabled clients to derive granular insights from small groups of highly-qualified targets—those who had consented to having their attendance and interaction data captured. Meshh widens these data capture opportunities to massive sample sizes of anonymous information. “Limelight is engaging with conversion, whereas Meshh is looking at a more holistic view of the event overall— what consumers do at that event, dwell-time, where they interact, and how they interact,” says McGuckian. “With our combined product roadmap, you can now manage the whole of the event cycle and build out a richer, deeper understanding of customers and their experiences—from the attendees you know about to those you don’t.”
At the time of this writing, Madison Square Garden has just hosted 20,000 maskless Foo Fighters fans, the UEFA European Football Championship is in full swing, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are ramping up for 10,000 spectators per event. Large-scale experiences are back, and providing brands with opportunities to connect with consumers in ways that haven’t been available in a year and a half—inside, outside, and before, during, and after the events themselves. “The Meshh sensor technology enables clients to create measurement hypotheses, and not be limited by the four walls of a building,” says Foster. “Lots of event experiences start before the ticket is swiped,” agrees McGuckian. “Take NASCAR: A big part of the experience is the tailgate party in the parking lot beforehand. You don’t want to be restricted in what you can measure; you want to be able to capture the indoor and outdoor experience.”
Access to real-time information is important, but only if a client is capable of actioning those measurements. More often, clients use the data to make decisions after the fact. The integrated capabilities of Limelight and Meshh make it easy for clients to do both. “Once we have collected the data, we can contextualize it,” says McGuckian. “You can measure all you want, but it’s how you deploy it. To really drive long term value, you want to be able to look for changes in behaviour over a given period of time, at how the data you collect changes over time.” Can you shift that dwell time from 3 mins to 5? Can you take steps to convert the numbers of people who walked past your booth from 1000 to 2000? What are the different scenarios you need to test? According to McGuckian and Foster, these are some of the fundamental questions clients need to be asking—and if they can also be reacting to real-time data ad hoc during the events, all the better.
Along with a breadth of industry-leading clients in automotive, retail, conference and sports industries, Meshh also brings Limelight an influx of insight into different cultural practices. With a global footprint in 23 markets around the world, Meshh expands Limelight’s reach into Europe and further abroad while providing important information into the nuances and behaviours of different groups.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” says Foster. But measuring is only one part of the challenge. With the new partnership, Limelight and our clients are setting out on an exciting new path—one that connects the dots of the event as a whole. By bringing both active and passive data sets together, and contextualizing that information, our clients will know exactly what people are doing at their event, what that means in a broader reality, and what to optimize at the next event.