Digital Media

GfK’s Florian Kahlert on Digital Market Intelligence

Florian Kahlert is Managing Director of Digital Marketing Intelligence (DMI) at GfK, a company that is passionate about online research for consumer products and services, pharmaceuticals, retail, media, and public policy. The Makegood recently spoke with Florian about his position and innovative online research.

The Makegood: Florian, how did you get into the online industry, and what keeps you here?

FK: My background and education were in traditional television communications and social science in Germany.  But I also was working with computers in college and was teaching computer skills to make money on the side.  The online media world gave me a perfect platform to pull these two directions together. I got into measurement when I was recruited to join Insight Express as the company’s first outside hire, in 1999.

What keeps me on the digital side is the fact that new things are happening every day; it’s still the Wild West out there.  There are so many opportunities for changing things, for having an impact.  Back at Right Media, when we started to promote the idea of bidded  inventory—something that hadn’t even existed before – it was fascinating.  And later, when Dimestore began offering short-form surveys, the common response was, “You can’t do research with less than 25 questions.” Then the industry started moving in our direction.

The Makegood: The Digital Market Intelligence practice of GfK was recently formed. Can you tell us the reason it was formed and how it creates a better offering for marketers?

FK: We created DMI to drive innovation in the digital research space worldwide. What is missing in digital research is a global player that can combine digital insights with custom market research on a campaign level.

More than other companies in this space, GFK has a history of being grounded in methodology, and of tailoring solutions to specific needs of clients — a custom approach, rather than syndicated.  In addition, we are a global company; so we have the tools to support brands on a worldwide scale.

Our vision is to tie together the path from brand strategy to executing that strategy, measuring its implementation, and determining the impact those actions have on purchases and actual standing of the brand. Clients receive this information in a time frame that is actionable, so that they can still change and improve the delivery as the campaigns unfold. It is a cross media, holistic approach tailored to specific campaigns.

The Makegood: Can you tell us about your role as Managing Director of DMI?

FK: On the one hand, I lead the selling of DMI global solutions and initiatives into the US market. On the other, my team helps adapt our US solutions so they can be utilized globally, and figures out which solutions that already exist in other markets can be modified and introduced in the US.

As an example, with Dimestore, we started out creating a market in the US for short-form, real-time feedback solutions that informed media purchases. Now we’re starting to put those solutions on a global scale, with local platforms, to distribute them in other markets.  In some emerging markets, the Dimestore approach can be used very quickly, very easily and very cost effectively. Conversely, we adapted GfK global cross media products, like Market Obsurvey and Purchase Journey, so they are now also available to US clients.

The Makegood: Are the any recent studies or accomplishments that you are particularly proud of that you can tell us about?

FK: In general, we’re proud to have become a partner for top shelf agencies in delivering value to clients. We’ve created awareness about the benefits that real-time data brings to media organizations that are placing the media.  We’re also proud of our ability to help them improve their bets on inventory, to make those bets more likely to be successful.

In addition, we have partnered with smart companies like Rocketfuel and SayMedia; through the integration between our technology and theirs, I believe we helped them differentiate themselves in the market, to the point where they have become top-shelf players. They did all the work, but I hope that our solutions may have helped along the way.

The Makegood: Looking ahead, what do you see as major opportunities in digital metrics?

Social media is a space where there are so many details that are different from traditional advertising – earned media, paid media, the value of” likes,” the value of Facebook friends, and so on.  And, on a global scale, there’s clearly an incredible demand for any type of clarity as to the effectiveness of mobile marketing.  There are many different avenues there, and none of them are very mature yet.

It will really require a lot of thought to make these environments quantifiable assets for brand marketers.  Right now, marketers are buying them because they’re new, and because marketers have to be there.  Eventually, though, they will start sobering up, and there will be more and more need for some clear metrics to validate one avenue and one approach versus another.  We have a responsibility to help them; that’s what we do, and that’s what we should be doing.

The Makegood: Thanks, Florian.