It’s a great time to be in marketing. Gone are the days when we decide which product we are promoting this week. Today it’s about first understanding our customer and delivering what is relevant to him while ensuring he is happy in all the interactions he has with us.

As a marketing professional, I like to stay up-to-date on the latest industry developments. To that end, I recently participated in a two day Data Marketing conference here in Paris with a theme around “Collecting, Activating, and Developing Customer Loyalty” (Collectez Activez, Fidelisez). This was the second Data Marketing conference to take place here and included 1,500 participants, 60 speakers, and 40 product exhibitors.

This year’s data marketing conference was particularly timely because of the EU’s General Data Protection

Regulation (GPDR) and the ePrivacy regulation which will become enforceable next year. These regulations aim to reinforce trust and security in the digital single European market and reduce sets of rules from 28 to one. Companies will be required to get explicit consent from their customers to use their personal data.

Several conference speakers contended that these regulations will be good for business. They see consumer consent as an opportunity to create and maintain a relationship of trust between a company and their customer, increase customer loyalty and give them an advantage over competitors.

Another presentation focused on the launch of the Alliance Gravity data marketing platform which provides advertisers an alternative to Google and Facebook which historically receive 60-70% of total advertising spend.

Alliance Gravity is a coalition of currently 20 French advertising and media companies that have agreed to pool their customer data including socio-economic, professional, location, center of interest, purchase and consumption data on a data platform that enables advertisers to target specific audiences.

One cool technology that continues to develop is the voice activated personal assistant which uses massive amounts of data to help a machine respond to your speech. Google predicts that by 2020, half of all searches will be by voice instead of text. With this in mind, Google has been working on the integration of third party services into Google Assistant. Today, Google Assistant users in France can access practical information on Accor Hotels, learn English & Spanish via Busuu, hear their horoscope from ELLE, get pollution information on pollution in their city from Plume Labs, and get train schedules and ticket prices from voyages-sncf. Soon you’ll be able to ask your Google Assistant to schedule services for you at Sephora.

Luigi Reggiani, Analytics & Data Evangliest, Google talking about the vision recognition technology of Google Lens.

Included in the conference were several case studies on how the use of data has made a big impact on customer experience and business results. Many companies are combining their in-house data with third party data to target prospects. For example, French real estate company Groupe Orpi-Anthinea uses data and algorithms from ETIC Data to predict when a prospect might sell their apartment and therefore be in need of their services.

External media leader JCDecaux worked with a local software company to create a data visualization web app called Powerstore. Powerstore integrates 8 different data sources to enable more than 250 sales and marketing people to dynamically visualize a variety of data in a very easy to use communication tool.

Disney France recently launched a conversational “bot” on Facebook called D-Bot to interact with guests and respond to common visitor questions based on data collected. The company sees D-Bot as a complement to guest interactions on other channels. Since D-Bot was deployed, Disney France has seen an increase in conversation volume and in guest satisfaction. To help you out with gift giving this season, you can check out Disney’s “Christmas Genie” bot on FB Messenger to get personalized advice on which gifts to buy.

Chauffeur Privé uses data visualization software to improve their customer experience. The software lets them do everything from monitoring wait time by neighborhood in real time to calculating the cost of a customer loyalty program and the return on investment.

Even the nonprofit world is making use of data to increase donations and make a bigger impact.

WorldVision Canada has transitioned from using donor information in a tactical way to a more strategic way in which they use segmentation, predictive modeling, and digital analytics to study how donors and prospects react to their interactive tools. The personal data is crucial to understanding the people they are working with to raise money, understand the market, and what motivates their decision to give.

By Kristen Schneider for Girls in Tech Paris