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Three key MarTech solutions to help your brand stay ahead

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Date
29 November 2022

In an ever-changing world, creating meaningful interactions makes all the difference for brands. Whether it’s removing friction from the customer journey, increasing the value proposition, or improving the ROI on marketing spend, a key ingredient in all these activities is the activation of quality customer data. By creating a real-time, 360°customer view, a 1-on-1 marketing approach at scale becomes possible. 

However, getting there is a multifaceted challenge. To succeed, brands and businesses need the best technology for media, marketplaces, search, storytelling, and creatives, all while respecting data and privacy.  But building an ideal MarTech stack that suits the current and future needs of your business can be challenging, especially during financial uncertainty when every dollar you spend is under a microscope.

At DEPT®, we believe technology is the key to successful, data-led marketing. At the same time, we know this is challenging to get right. With an average organisation using over ninety Martech tools, it’s unsurprising that 83% of organisations do not connect consumer touch points and 68% of organisations lack automation.

Here are three MarTech solutions that can help you bridge that gap, maximise your technology investments, improve your marketing ROI and create a more frictionless customer experience.

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Customer Data Platform

A customer data platform brings together all of the information you’ve gathered about your customers into one database. This means all first, second and third party data, including things like age, historic behaviour and browsing activity. A CDP makes data that was only accessible to one department (like your Customer Service representatives), accessible to all (like your Digital Marketing team). 

It’s a treasure trove of information that only grows more complex and useful as you utilise it in your daily business dealings. It provides you with customer profiles that are invaluable to perform well in the digital world.

Your CDP should provide a user-friendly interface helping your company to use your data. No matter if you’re looking to analyse customer behaviour, increase conversion or generate reports to inform business decisions, a well-structured and mature CDP will assist you in all of these endeavours and more. 

And it’s not just your organisation that’ll benefit from your CDP. Your clients will too, with better-targeted marketing campaigns that listen to and meet their needs, quicker processing, or even just not having to repeat their address to three different departments when dealing with your company.

For example, a luxury gifting company wanted to be able to predict the behaviour of its customers and turned to DEPT® to build its customer data platform. We used machine learning to predict conversion intent by matching real-time browsing behaviour to historical conversion patterns, resulting in much more efficient retargeting by honing in on audiences based on their expected probability to convert. This approach saved 40% of the brand’s remarketing ad spend without reducing conversions.

Google Marketing Platform

Google Marketing Platform (GMP) is an integrated ad-technology platform that enables advertisers to more effectively manage, measure and grow high-impact digital marketing campaigns. GMP integrates world-class solutions to help buyers run holistic campaigns across all media channels. The products within Google Marketing Platform all seamlessly integrate so that you can plan, buy, measure, and optimise digital media and customer experiences in one place.

The GMP suite of solutions can handle everything from automated campaign management, to intelligent non-last click attribution models, video, display and mobile campaigns management to in one place to data visualisation. It can help you work smarter and your budget work harder.

For example, we implemented Salesforce and Google Marketing Platform for a luxury body care brand. By doing so, we centralised all their first-party data and built an in-house machine-learning platform, giving them insight into the data needed to increase their international reach efficiently. By switching to more audience-based communications, the retailer’s CPA was reduced by 15%, while sales increased by 85%.

Ada by DEPT®

Ada by DEPT® is our proprietary marketing technology platform, designed for brands to build and accelerate their digital businesses. With 50+ point solutions available for every key marketing activity, Ada helps clients automate digital marketing at scale, and mitigates the loss of data in a more privacy-driven digital world. 

Ada is a central platform that functions as a hub for DEPT® tooling, solutions and trusted third party partners. Through managed services, Ada works like a multitool, providing the right solution for the job. Media & Advertising, SEO & Content, Marketplaces, Data & Insights, Creative Automation, Financials & Admin and access to third party martech partners can all be managed via this single platform. 

The British marketplace Dayrize wanted to create awareness at scale for sustainable alternatives. To do this successfully, Dayrize needs web traffic that is affordable, qualitative and also scalable. Using Ada, DEPT® realised a flexible, data-driven website structure in just a few days through the creative use of data and machine learning. At the heart of the solution was automated keyword research at scale. We retrieved 38 million data points (keywords and search volumes) and processed these with Google’s BERT algorithm, supplemented with our own algorithm. This saved Dayrize about 90% of the manual work (about €180,000 in hourly compensation on this scale), in just a few days.

Review, react, refine

Now is the perfect time to look at your MarTech investments more carefully, scrutinise what you already have, and find out what you’ll need in the future. With our agnostic approach and pragmatic view of the global market, we have supported brands in developing the ideal MarTech stack to help them thrive.

Contact us today to learn more about our third-party partnerships and our proprietary technology.

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Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data

Willem Blom

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How to reap the rewards of loyalty & retention

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Date
23 November 2022

In times of economic instability, battening down the hatches and tightening the purse strings is the natural response to keep your bottom line healthy. And while making considered decisions around media budgets is wise, a switch in focus from new customer acquisition to loyalty and retention is even wiser.

According to Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is “anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one”. For some organisations, this is a budget-breaker, especially those with long sales cycles or expensive products. But while acquisition can multiply your spend five-fold, an HBS study shows just a 5% increase in retention rate can increase profits by 25% to an astonishing 95%.

But it takes more than just a switch in mindset to harvest the fruits of retention. And while some organisations may have laid the foundations back in the dark days of the pandemic, many marketing teams are underprepared from a technical, talent and strategy perspective to compensate for the loss of media exposure and traffic when switching to a retention and loyalty strategy.

Developments in martech, data modelling and personalisation capabilities mean that loyalty and retention strategies have come a long way from simply firing off a discount code to all previous buyers; it’s about getting to know your customers, understanding their needs, and providing the service they need, when they need it. But we understand that knowing where to start when budgets are shrinking and timelines are tight can be tough, so we’ve broken down some key focus areas to support you with your loyalty and retention strategy.

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The goal

The main goal when launching any loyalty and retention strategy is to increase the customer lifetime value of your existing customers by maximising loyalty and retention, and driving cross-sell and upsell.

1. Customer insights

In order to target your existing customers, you need to ensure that you can isolate that data. The first step is to get the basics right with your customer journey and CRM setup. This will enable you to build out the customer journeys from first conversion, to repeat purchase, to loyalty.

Through data, insights and a ‘test and learn’ approach, you can grow and engage your customer base in both size and value, while identifying the customers who have the highest likelihood to churn so you can act accordingly. Data modelling can help you to 
create buckets of different types of customers and approach them with the right message at the right moment.

DEPT® supported a luxury retailer with this challenge. By garnering a deeper understanding of its existing customer base through data insights and utilising the Google Marketing Platform (GMP), the brand was able to maximise owned/paid retention campaigns, identify lookalike audiences, set budget caps, and prioritise customer service cases. The data informed a customer contact strategy that ensured the right messages were sent to the right people, at the right time. The result? An 85% increase in sales.

In all positive stories, technology is the enabler. In this instance, Google Marketing Platform supported the retailer in its success. GMP is an integrated ad-technology platform that enables advertisers to more effectively manage, measure and grow high-impact digital marketing campaigns, and its suite of solutions has the ability to power all key elements of your campaigns, from automated campaign management to optimisation, analytics and real-time data visualisation. If you’re not utilising GMP already, it is well worth exploring.

2. Cross-sell & up-sell

Developing a strategy to support cross-sell and up-sell can move you from purely acquisition-driven revenue to adding revenue share from existing customers. Having the ability to identify cross and up-sell services that your customers enjoy will grow their loyal behaviour (and customer lifetime value) with your brand over time. Personalisation plays a large part in this journey. If you get your customer insights set-up right, then preference personalisation becomes much easier. 

By teaming data-driven insights with Creative Automation tools, you are able to create multiple cross-channel communications for various audiences. At the click of a button, you can generate thousands of creative variations from just a few inputs. Automated asset production allows tailored messaging to each individual customer segment, and iterates on the messaging quickly based on performance data. The tools make it easy to adjust copy and design, so that you are always producing hyper-personalised content that truly resonates with customers across CRM marketing, onsite, social, and digital advertising. Creative Automation is a key solution in Ada by DEPT®, our proprietary martech platform, which offers best-in-class technology for performance marketing, creative, data and media optimisation.

For example, eBay was looking for a new way to engage existing customers with a particular product category, while at the same time wanting to test whether a personalised CRM strategy would boost customer lifetime value. DEPT® helped them to define three unique, enthusiast segments and develop a hyper-specific, highly personalised approach to communicate with these customers, which drove significant engagement and amplified conversion, with a 68% increase in click-to-open-rate.

3. One-to-one communication

Tailored, one-to-one customer communication across all digital touchpoints is a key tenet of loyalty and retention. All content touchpoints, whether push notifications, e-mail, website or chatbots, can have automated processes that ensure personalised messaging at any given moment. 

Beiersdorf is a glowing example of how to get it right. The personal care manufacturer focused on its existing Nivea customers across Europe, and developed a strategy that placed a strong focus on known customers in the ‘care’ phase of the funnel. This has a dual benefit; not only helping to increase loyalty, but also mitigating the impact of the death of the cookie as, by dealing with existing customers, you are still able to personalise customer journeys.

Utilising Salesforce technology, DEPT® implemented automated journeys to engage the database and prevent churn, optimised the content strategy, contact frequency, and email design, and improved the acquisition campaigns for growing the database with high quality profiles. The result was a 200% increase in open rates, and 357% increase in click-through rate.

The Salesforce suite of solutions, such as Marketing Cloud, Tableau Analytics and Experience Cloud, can play a vital role in developing a truly 360 view of your customers to enable success. From consolidating all customer data to create rich customer profiles to automating complex processes to increase efficiency and productivity, creating cutting edge tools to support end-to-end communication to optimising workflows with machine learning, Salesforce is a solid base for any brand’s tech stack.

Chatbots are well worth considering as part of your loyalty strategy, helping customers to self-serve and providing personalised recommendations. Ralph Lauren approached one-to-one communication with the development of a gifting chatbot for the festive season. The luxury retailer wanted to create an immersive and personalised method of picking the perfect gift, matching the users’ interests with compatible products available on the Ralph Lauren website. By combining data-driven insights from previous gifting chatbots with innovative Instagram platform features, BYTE/DEPT® built one of the first branded Instagram chatbots available in the industry and worldwide. In the first few months of launch, the chatbot attracted over 12,000 average monthly users with 3% showing strong purchase intent.

Act now to reap the rewards

Investing in building a good relationship with your existing customers really pays off in the short and long term. Whether you’re already refocusing your marketing efforts on loyalty and retention, or need some help in getting started, our team of experts can help. From tech implementation to strategy, data, creative and beyond, we can support you every step of the way.

Reach out to our experts today

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Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data

Willem Blom

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Advertising during a recession? Start with an Audit.

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Willem Blom
Willem Blom
Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data
Date
10 November 2022

Recessions bring with them a slew of problems that the global economy must contend with. The usual byproducts of recession – job loss and inflation – severely impact demand and the purchasing power of large swaths of people all over the world. In turn, this almost always results in significant revenue declines for many consumer brands.

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First start with an Advertising Audit

With recent economic uncertainties putting a damper on financial expectations for the foreseeable future, businesses need to adapt various aspects of their organisation to ensure their survival. This is especially relevant when it comes to marketing. Brands must be careful when promoting their brand during times like these and simultaneously ensure…

  • They aren’t tone deaf to the hardships facing consumers.
  • They are demonstrating the need and value for their products or services.
  • They are building long-term brand equity.

Moving forward during a tenuous situation like this can be accomplished by starting with an in-depth advertising audit. This audit takes a close look at a number of factors, including your target audience, your product category, and your current messaging and creative assets to determine not only what needs to change for a successful pivot, but how that can be done. This is also all done within the context of lessons learned from previous economic downturns.

Stay Positive, Stay Focused

One key lesson we’ve learned when marketing during a recession is that brands should focus on the positives where they can find them. Yes, it’s important to still be empathetic to challenges facing many consumers, but you also don’t want to paint a “doomsday scenario” or be too pushy to try and make a sale. Don’t lead with depressing messaging; remain optimistic and demonstrate the full value your brand can provide.

Also, if you start to see your sales decline, don’t panic. Don’t pull your marketing budget from top- and middle-funnel marketing activities to solely focus on short-term conversion campaigns. You need to continue building brand equity and increasing awareness with new audiences. Brands that maintain their investments during recessions report higher sales, market share, and earnings afterward than those that don’t. They stay top of mind with consumers while the competition lags behind. Not only that, but if other brands pull back on their advertising, you end up getting even more value for your advertising spend. It’s no secret, but brands can sometimes forget, taking a full-funnel, long-term approach is the best way to foster sustainable growth well into the future.

An exceptional example of this is Samsung. During The Great Recession of 2009 – and even in the midst of reporting their first quarterly loss in company history – Samsung kept their investment stable and even brought in senior marketing executives to reshape their approach. And the long-term results? Well, those speak for themselves. In 2009, Samsung was number 21 on Interbrand’s global brand value list. In 2021, they ranked number 5. Similarly, the Harvard Business Review noted that when CPG brand Reckitt Benckiser increased advertising spend by 25%, they also increased profits by 14% when their competitors were seeing profit reductions.

Brands should allow for 4-6 weeks when pivoting their campaigns and messaging in these situations. You want to ensure you take adequate time to research and craft the most effective messaging and creative, but you also can’t wait too long and miss the boat. It’s important to stay vigilant and understand the current situation at hand, stay updated on the latest developments, and also consider how the position of your consumer and brand might evolve over the coming months.

Understanding Your Audience and Value

During an economic downturn, there are four distinct consumer segments. The Harvard Business Review examined these during The Great Recession in 2009. These segments include:

  • Slam-on-the-breaks: those who need to immediately economize.
  • Pained-but-patient: those who will have to think twice about their spendings (the majority of consumers).
  • Comfortable well-off: those who don’t really have to worry about their finances.
  • Live-for-today: those who live for the moment and spend without regrets.

Harvard Business Review also identified four unique product segments, which are:

  • Essentials: products that someone needs to survive or make a living, such as groceries, medicine, and transportation.
  • Treats: products that are not essential, but are justifiable: lipstick, a birthday cake, and dining out. 
  • Postponables: products that have function, but could be postponed: a new refrigerator, a new sofa, or a laptop.
  • Expendables: products that you don’t necessarily need and are a luxury: a jacuzzi, jewellery, and art.

The audit will uncover how these different consumer segments interact with the different product segments in the light of economic uncertainty. It uses this information to develop a strategy to react to those changes in behavior and drive growth, or prevent sales and revenue retractions.

By identifying which product segments will be important to each consumer segment, the advertising audit will help a brand develop a higher-level strategic concept around the sensitivities of each consumer group and the value of the different products. This concept will then serve as a guiding light to ensure messaging and creative assets are persuasive and influential. The audit will also capture what competitors are doing in regard to recession marketing and how that might impact your strategy.

DEPT® has experience helping brands within numerous industries succeed in all types of market conditions. Our expertise and outside perspective enables us to keep brands grounded through challenging times and always act with the end consumer in mind. Interested in conducting an advertising audit for your brand to ensure you’re hitting the right note with consumers? Reach out today and get started.

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Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data

Willem Blom

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Salesforce Health Check and Discovery

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Nick Broekema
Nick Broekema
Global Salesforce Partnership Lead
Date
3 November 2022

It’s wise to make sure you use your technology to its full potential and optimise your tools to meet your objectives, whether you’re preparing budgets for next year or are considering a strategy change. Here’s where our Discovery and Health Check comes in.

As Salesforce’s European Strategic Growth partner with 300+ implementations under our belt, we know all the best practices to help you achieve your business goals. Our Discovery and Health Check entails Salesforce Clouds: Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and the Core platform (Sales/Service/OMS), depending on your needs and stage in the technology integration journey. Are you, for instance…

…exploring Salesforce solutions?

We’ll unravel the possibilities and challenges of implementing Salesforce in your organisation so you can make a well-informed decision on how to take your business to the next level.

…already using the Salesforce platform?

We’ll check if your Salesforce set-up is used to its full potential and if there are gaps that can be filled to match your business objectives.

In all cases, we’ll work together with your team to ensure we can provide you with recommendations suited for your organisation. Depending on your requests, the Discovery and Health Check will take 2 days up to 1 week. We’ll conduct interviews with key stakeholders, review your current architecture and analyse the provided data. After that, we present an action plan and road map to help you get the best ROI from the Salesforce platform for your specific business.

Check which Discovery and Health Check options we offer.

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Global Salesforce Partnership Lead

Nick Broekema

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Privacy laws are resurfacing – It’s time for a long term data strategy

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Date
27 October 2022

Businesses are facing more challenges in digital than ever before, and privacy regulation remains one of the most recurrent topics. So far, over 80 countries and independent territories have adopted comprehensive data protection laws. The EU’s GDPR, Brazil’s LGPD, and California’s CCPA are the strictest and most enforced laws to date.

To see how problematic and expensive this is for companies, take a look at a small sample of headlines that have been published over the last few months: 

And with 93% of US citizens reporting that they would switch to privacy-conscious organisations, it’s not just regulatory bodies pushing for change. 

Though the impact varies across platforms and advertisers, all organisations will feel the effects of privacy changes in the upcoming years. As the complexities of these regulations grow, businesses need to re-evaluate their marketing programs and take a proactive approach to stay ahead of developing changes. For a long-term, sustainable data strategy, implement the following.

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Focus on loyalty and first-party data strategies

Respecting consumer privacy is a competitive advantage, so make that the starting point of your data journey.

If you focus on user trust, they will consent and identify themselves on your platform. Use that first-party data, along with models and AI, to create sophisticated segments or triggers that inform your team. 

DEPT® created a model for Randstad which uses data sources from their own database and Google Analytics to generate required input variables. The raw data is then transferred to Bigquery, the data warehouse in the Google Cloud Platform, and a fill score is calculated on a daily basis. These scores are sent to various databases for the marketing and IT teams to use, helping Randstad be more data-driven as an organisation:

Of course, this only works if all measurement precautions are in place. It’s also beneficial to test and leverage cookieless targeting possibilities like contextual advertising.

Centralise storage of user data

Employ an effective CDP (Customer data platform) solution to collect and handle customer information while still meeting privacy compliance and security obligations.

CDPs enable businesses to collect data from all types of sources (social platforms, CRM, DMP, and physical stores). Once data is collected, they work intelligently to create customer journeys and sophisticated audience segments. When looking beyond data silos, unified customer data allows companies to prioritise and target users.

As you work with your CDP, increase the number of possible user identifiers by passing information through owned channels (such as email).

Define your audiences and optimise targeting with automation

Formulate data-driven personas by examining the relationship between purchase behaviour and buyer identifiers. Once you have identified these personas, test and scale ads with creative automation. Creative automation helps you send multiple cross-channel communications to various target audiences. From there, you can iterate on those communications quickly, adjusting messages for countless customer segments based on performance. 

On the back end of this process, ensure your marketing automation captures performance metrics so you can understand the behaviour of different customer groups. This coupling of automation paired with analysis can drastically increase ROI. 

Focus on audience-specific messaging across the full journey

Not only must you produce and distribute quality content, but you must also know when and where personalisation fits into the picture. 

By understanding the full journey and using available first-party data, you can easily fit your campaign messaging to your audiences and tailor it to different touchpoints. 

When helping eBay with ad messaging, we identified several audience segments including regular buyers, sporadic sellers, passionate collectors, and alternate makers. 

With those segments, we understood their motivations and could test personalised ads. At the click of a button, thousands of creative variations were generated from just a few inputs. By automating asset production, we tailored messaging and iterated quickly based on performance data.

Legal and technical developments will only further limit the available data for marketing. All companies must focus on loyalty and first-party data strategies. If the volume goes down, your relevancy must go up! 

Although this may be forcing us to follow a different strategy, this is the kind of data strategy we should be following in the first place if you think about it. It’s time for a better way of digital communication that benefits all participants. 

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Director of Data, CRO & Insights

Matt Lacey

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Google to promote sites with human-centred content

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Arthur Lescarret
Arthur Lescarret
SEO Director
Date
24 October 2022

With the rollout of Google’s new helpful content update, many are asking themselves what it is, what it means for their businesses, and how great an effect it will have. The update, which was released in August 2022, was expected to have major ramifications however, while the purpose of the update is clear, the impact is still uncertain.

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Google’s Helpful Content Update

Where quantity and quality used to be even parameters for Google to decide how to rank pages, recent industry changes, such as the rise of TikTok, have affected users’ behaviour and thus require content of better quality. With more people on TikTok absorbing content that is easy to digest, Google is faced with greater competition to prioritise content that is made for humans – and thus introduced the helpful content update.

This new search algorithm update is intended to target websites that have a high amount of unsatisfying or unhelpful content. The main purpose arose from searchers becoming frustrated when landing on websites that are highly ranked but are unhelpful, due to the fact that the content has been designed purely for SEO. The new algorithm will instead promote content that is of higher quality, feels more authentic, and is relevant for users. 

While the new update does not invalidate the importance of SEO, it aims to downgrade websites that place a greater focus on SEO, and instead promote websites that are designed for humans, rather than for search engines. Google’s helpful content update pushes businesses to move away from robotic, AI-created content, and to reconsider what is currently on their web pages. Moreover, this update, unlike others, affects entire websites as opposed to individual pages, meaning that the recovery time could be quite significant.

What does it mean for your business?

The new update is first being rolled out in the English markets, and upon launching was predicted to take a couple of weeks. It still remains to be seen how powerful this ranking signal is, and only a small percentage of SEOs are currently experiencing any ranking changes due to the update. However, Google’s ultimate goal is to maintain a competitive position for its search engine and to prevent users from moving over to high-content platforms like TikTok.

The impact on businesses will likely be significant, but we do not know how long it will take to be fully implemented. Google probably opted for a slow rollout to give people time to update their content, especially given the difficulty of bouncing back if hit by the algorithm.

Ultimately, the new update indicates a key focus point for Google, and whether your site is going to be impacted today or in the near future, cleaning up content to focus on user behaviour is definitely recommended.

What to do now?

Adapting your content, where necessary, should follow a people-first approach in a way that does not invalidate SEO best practices. Companies should ensure content is helpful, user-friendly and authentic (see Google’s guidelines for creators). Essentially, you should evaluate your website content to determine where it needs to be reworked. Ask yourself: does something need to be removed? Does something need rewriting? If you have a plethora of content, what should be prioritised?

The transition to people-first content

The update to Google’s ranking algorithm should by no means cause panic, but it is important to bear in mind the impacts on your site, along with user behaviour. You can still have content of length, but ensure that the most important and relevant highlights are stated first, and that the balance between human-focused content and SEO best practices is upheld. 

Want to know more? For guidance and advice on how best to optimise SEO and content on your website, reach out to us at DEPT®.

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Arthur Lescarret

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How data analysts help brands break down silos

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Matt Lacey
Matt Lacey
Director of Data, CRO & Insights
Date
24 August 2022

In most companies, there are people whose job is to combine data from different sources to answer business questions.

These people aren’t usually considered technical by software engineers, but they still exercise creative, business, and logical judgment. The people who do this work are usually called “data analysts.”

Data analysts are expected to figure out how to make new data (specifically new records) out of a company’s raw data.

Data analysts don’t “analyse” or “break down data” so much as they remix source data into something new – something that makes sense to stakeholders. 

Organisations hire data analysts to break their data out of artificial silos. Your ERP, CRM, e-commerce, PLM, marketing, web analytics, inventory and fulfillment, sales, and privacy systems have their own picture of the relationship with the customer – but they don’t all talk to each other.

Data analysts exist because:

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Data analysts play a foundational role in creating the semantic layer in every business.

What data analysts do for organisations

Data analysts glue your organisation’s data into a coherent whole, building more-or-less a “semantic layer” out of the data collected by your company’s applications.

They may need to do this by merging two spreadsheets, ten databases, five dashboards, or a mix. A data analyst won’t know until they take a look.

The people who do this job thus end up with a mix of skills, from data quality analysis and pipeline prototyping to data modeling, visualisation, and business analytics. Hiring good data analysts requires not losing sight of the forest for the trees. 

“Data work” for most companies is in the vast space between narrow snapshots collected by software applications and all the business processes that depend on that data for insight. Very few data analysts learn all the skill-sets required to navigate the entire space. Most learn a couple of components well and consistently.

It’s also important to note that this kind of work is something your software engineers shouldn’t be doing.

Because of this, data analysts are critical to the way organisations work. 

What doesn’t a data analyst do?

Data analysts are critical to building an organisation’s semantic layer. We expect them to develop repeatable, consistent, and precise logical formulas for combining records from different systems, as quickly as possible. 

Oftentimes, the automation of those formulas is then handed off to engineers. Engineers are tasked with building tools and platforms to make that semantic layer construction process easy and transparent. Data analysts are then free to build the semantic layer as fast as they can, with as little friction as possible.

This division of labour lowers the daily stress on data analysts, and they get the best use of their skills.

What should brands look for in data analysts?

At DEPT®, we believe anyone who has one or more of these skills is a “data analyst”:

  • Visualisation and report development
  • Business, statistical, or other quantitative analytics and storytelling
  • Data Science
  • Data modeling
  • SQL integration script development
  • Data quality analysis
  • Database discovery
  • Data Architecture

Experience & opportunities

An experienced data analyst has more than one of those skills, and has in-depth experience and perhaps a preference for at least one. Very few people end up with decent skills across the board, but the more experienced have at least tried and failed.

That willingness to try and fail is crucial for data analysts.

None of us are born with the ability to merge datasets just the right way or explain results so someone can use them. Good data analysts are confident they can make seemingly disparate datasets come together sensibly. They may eventually be wrong, but a data analyst is willing to try to find a join.

The ability to optimise business impact, reusability, and feasibility is important. Semantic layers are made up of lots of individual decisions about business logic, reconciled into a consistent whole. An ability to keep an eye on the big picture while also meeting short-term needs is invaluable. Success inevitably requires a combination of both good luck and insight, and not always experience.

Data analysts play a foundational role in creating the semantic layer in every business. They provide an invisible but critical service – gluing together data sources for business users. They do all sorts of creative, logical, technical, and business analysis work to meet their user’s expectations.

A data analyst’s integrations hold companies together and are critical to an organisation’s success.

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Director of Data, CRO & Insights

Matt Lacey

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Considerations around the UK’s plan to scrap cookie consent

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Matt Lacey
Matt Lacey
Director of Data, CRO & Insights
Date
27 July 2022

Digital privacy concerns have continued to grow since the introduction of GDPR in Europe. And with the demise of cookies being on the radar for quite some time now, businesses have been preparing to navigate the cookieless world. And in a recent survey, 69% of marketers believe it is important to collect first-party data for their strategies and campaigns.

But is all that set to change in the UK? The government recently shared plans to reform local data protection law, including the requirement for website cookie consent that could see us say farewell to the notorious cookie banner. 

Here we explore the current state of the landscape as well as the implications for businesses and consumers. And we answer the all important question: does it really matter? 

The cookie banner

Businesses collect cookie consent for a wide range of purposes from advertising to functional widgets, which is then shared with multiple vendors to help deliver more personalised marketing. Cookie banners are used to gain this consent from consumers, and ultimately their usage reduces the volume of data at companies disposal; which goes some way to explain why banner formats vary quite substantially from site to site, with businesses often erring on the side of vagueness to encourage users to consent.

The most transparent versions include a clear opt-out button. But the format has a big impact on performance, with those leading with a ‘disagree’ button achieving an average positive consent rate of 76%, versus 96% of those that don’t provide the option to disagree. So those that are less transparent are getting a higher acceptance rate, which could (arguably) be down to poor user experience, as users often want to remove the cookie banner as quickly as possible. But this option will soon be phased out as countries tighten up their privacy laws due to its lack of transparency. 

Do you, as a consumer, actually understand what you’re consenting to when faced with a cookie banner? Do you click the most prominent button to just get rid of the box? If so, you certainly won’t be the only one! 

Generally speaking, cookie banners provide a poor user experience for consumers. Not only are they an extra step in the consumer’s journey, they’re not always the best looking things and to top it off, we’re not really that sure what we’re giving consent to. 

The proposals

The UK government has stated their plans to reform local data law, which could mean scrapping cookie banners, moving to an opt-out model. 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: “In the future, the government intends to move to an opt-out model of consent for cookies placed by websites. This would mean cookies could be set without seeking consent, but the website must give the web user clear information about how to opt out.”

But this potential change hasn’t been welcomed with open arms, there’s been uproar from privacy campaign groups. Privacy and free speech campaigners, Open Rights Group (ORG), said the government’s proposal would make spying on users’ activities the “default option”.

To date, the government has presented two concrete proposals as well as a more radical proposal for reform to make the consent rules less restrictive: 

01 – ‘Strictly necessary’ cookies
Organisations would be able to use analytics cookies and similar technologies without the user’s consent. The cookies would be treated as ‘strictly necessary’ cookies under the current legislation for which consent is not required. 

DCMS said: “However, further safeguards may need to be considered to ensure that such processing poses a low impact on users’ privacy and a low risk of harm. This option would not remove the requirement on organisations to provide the user with clear and comprehensive information about the measurement technologies that are active on their device and the purposes behind the use of the technology.”

02 – ‘Other limited purposes’ cookies
The government is also considering allowing the use of cookies without consent for ‘other limited purposes’, with DCMS stating: “This could include processing that is necessary for the legitimate interests of the data controllers where the impact on the privacy of the individual is likely to be minimal – such as when detecting technical faults or enabling use of video or other enhanced functionality on websites.”

03 – Complete removal of cookie consent
Radical proposals to remove cookie consent requirements completely were also outlined. For organisations, it would mean complying with Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) would be more straightforward, however they would still be required to comply with UK GDPR principles. The government has asked for views on how organisations could comply without the use of cookie banners.

It’s important to note that any UK business that still operates in the EU would still have to comply with GDPR in those territories. Rather than making consent management simpler, there may be some added levels of complexity to configure this correctly. 

If you only operate inside the UK and are considering investing time/effort in a new consent management platform, it may be sensible to hold fire for now until we have some clearer answers on what the final policy will be. 

Transparency is key

When it comes to collecting data, a big issue is transparency. 94% of consumers feel it’s important to have control over the information they share with companies and how it’s used, so businesses need to be open and honest about the data they are collecting in order to build trust with users. Plus, 77% of consumers report that transparency practices have an impact on their purchase decisions, adding more fuel to the fire. 

Not only does being transparent benefit consumers, but also brands. 87% of marketers feel that direct consent from consumers would improve the consumer’s perception of the brand and 85% believe that trust and transparency will have a correlation with ROI on ad spend. It’s a win-win. 

GDPR delivered a massive step forward in privacy rights for individuals at the expense of big business, but the implementation is often clunky and provides challenges to how businesses operate. 

In Europe, 86% of websites already have a consent management platform (CMP) versus only 33% in America, a move that was hugely driven by GDPR, so why go backwards now? 

We believe adopting a CMP is good practice. And although consent banners aren’t perfect, you are putting your web user first by giving them the power. But let’s make sure we’re being upfront and honest with consumers about why we’re collecting their data and what our intentions are with it. 

The government’s proposals seem to suggest that they want to redress the balance and remove some of the friction that cookie consent causes. It could also be a way of distancing itself from EU policy. The EU is considering loosening rules around cookie consent, but the UK is looking to do something more radical. 

A future without cookies

This potential change could benefit businesses by giving them more access to data; but whether this will be the level of insight required is yet to be determined, depending on the proposal that goes ahead. 

However, as we edge more to a future without cookies, the big question is whether businesses will even be able to apply the data they get? And, should they even be relying on cookies? 

There’s no doubt about it, third party cookies are being phased out. Apple and Mozilla have already blocked cookies on their browsers. And, despite yet another delay, Google will be following suit in 2024. A cookieless world is rapidly on its way, reinforcing the value and need for first-party data. 

Luckily, many businesses have already started taking great strides with their first-party data strategies, but it’s now time to accelerate. By harnessing first-party data, businesses can get an understanding of their customers in real time, allowing them to develop a full customer profile, and use that data to provide customers with a personalised experience; which has become an expectation amongst consumers.

Having the right technologies in place will help businesses prepare for a future without cookies. Many brands are seeing the benefits of implementing customer data platforms (CDPs) to gain a better understanding of their customers and their journeys. A CDP gives them the ability to aggregate and analyse customer data from a variety of sources such as the CRM, email marketing, social media, websites and more in real-time.

Regardless of which proposal the UK government goes ahead with, businesses need to be ready to navigate a cookieless world. Marketers became too complacent with the reliance on cookies to help inform their marketing activity, which can often be impersonal. 

Providing consumers with hyper-personalised experiences that they keep coming back for can’t be done with cookies alone. Building a strong first-party data strategy with a clear value exchange will only lead to improved customer experiences and in turn hopefully a better return on investment.

And let’s be honest, there will always be new trends, emerging tech and changes to laws to abide by that will disrupt the future of marketing. So planning for a world with less reliance on external factors will only be beneficial. 

Explore how you can navigate the cookieless world further in our free download

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Director of Data, CRO & Insights

Matt Lacey

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How the DMA & DSA laws will impact your business

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Willem Blom
Willem Blom
Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data
Date
25 July 2022

The European Parliament has approved two new laws that will place tough constraints on how big tech brands such as Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Meta tackle competition and handle user data. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) aim to create a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of users are protected, and to establish a level playing field for businesses in the European Single Market and globally.

arial view of two people on phones

This is the first official legislation around the globe that aims to regulate big tech in such a big way. The new rules are an important step in defending European values in the online space. They respect international human rights norms, and help better protect democracy, equality and the rule of law.

The new laws apply in the EU single market, without discrimination, including to those online intermediaries established outside of the European Union that offer their services in the EU.

Digital Services Act

The Digital Services Act (DSA) tackles concerns of values and safety in the online space. It focuses on content moderation enforcement and transparency, and will likely go into effect around mid-2023.

The rule is built under the overarching principle: “what is illegal offline must also be illegal online.” The goal is to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected. It will give better protection to users and to fundamental rights online, establish a powerful transparency and accountability framework for online platforms, and provide a single, uniform framework across the EU.

The rules specified in the DSA concern online intermediaries and platforms such as online marketplaces, social networks, app stores, online travel platforms, and cloud services. It will mainly impact ‘very large’ online platforms, which have a significant societal and economic impact, reaching at least 45 million users in the EU (representing 10% of the population), and online search engines with more than 10% of the 450 million consumers in the EU.

Included in the new regulations, the DSA bans targeted advertising of minors based on profiling, and targeted advertising based on profiling using special categories of personal data such as sexual orientation or religious beliefs. 



Digital Markets Act

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) focuses more on the so-called ‘gatekeepers’ in digital markets such as search engines, social networking sites, web browsers, cloud computing services and virtual assistants. The criteria is even stricter than with DSA; similarly, most businesses will not be impacted directly, but will indirectly have to work with the consequences.

The DMA establishes a set of narrow defined criteria for qualifying large online platforms as ‘gatekeepers’. You are considered to be a gatekeeper when:

  • You have a yearly revenue of €7,5 billion, a market value of €75 billion, or you have over 45 billion unique monthly visitors on your platform. (Note that the European Commission can also appoint gatekeepers themselves, so companies like Booking, Zalando or Just Eat Takeaway may not meet these criteria just yet, but could be added to the list in the future). 
  • Furthermore, you need to have an impact on the market, be an important gatekeeper for business users to reach end users and have a firm position in the market

The DMA places far greater restrictions on tech giants in regards to how they utilise their gatekeeper platforms, in a bid to even the playing field for competition. For example, it introduces a ban on: sharing data between services without expressed consumer consent; on ranking the gatekeeper’s own products or services in a more favourable manner compared to those of third parties, and tracking end users outside of the gatekeepers’ core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising, without effective consent having been granted. The DMA’s competition rules could impact services such as iMessage, Amazon’s ability to self-preference on ecommerce, and Google and Meta’s advertisement data gathering practices.


These competition rules will likely go into effect in 2024, and those found to be non-compliant could face fines of up to 10% of the company’s worldwide annual turnover, rising to 20% for repeated infringements and penalty payments of up to 5% of the company’s worldwide daily turnover.

What does it mean for your business?

While the new laws are targeted mainly at ‘very large’ platforms and tech giants, there will be repercussions for those businesses that utilise the platforms for advertising purposes. 

DSA: Ban on targeted advertising to minors and via special category profiling

The DSA bans on targeted advertising on online platforms by profiling children, or based on special categories of personal data such as ethnicity, political views or sexual orientation

As of 2021, advertisers on Meta, Messenger, and Instagram were no longer able to target teens based on their interests. But businesses could still target ad campaigns to people 18 years and under based on age, gender, and location. On TikTok, you cannot target those under the age of digital consent, which differs per country (e.g. 16 in the Netherlands, 13 in the UK). According to the platform, it was never possible to target specifically based on profiling such as the sexual orientation listed in a profile or political preference. However, advertisers could target you based on your interests, for example “LGBTQ+ rights”.  Also as of 2021, advertisers on Meta were no longer able to target these sensitive interest categories.

The new law will limit the possibilities of targeting children, or based on special categories of personal data. Depending on the type of organisation you are, this may have a big impact on your advertising possibilities. When your target audience are minors (ecommerce focussed on younger people, theme parks, or even recruiting focussed on student jobs), it will no longer be possible to target specifically for your target audience. This will most likely have a big impact on the effectiveness of your online campaigns. 

For political parties and their online advertising, it will become harder to specifically target based on political views. This is a topic which is hotly debated leading up to many elections already. Important to note that in this specific case, the EU bans profiling users based on their political views but we know that in the US, Meta’s user interests were indirectly used as a proxy for politically or racially targeted advertising.

DSA: Ban of ‘dark patterns’ design

The DSA also bans the use of so-called ‘dark patterns’ on the interface of online platforms, referring to misleading tricks that manipulate users into choices they do not intend to make.

The law means that it cannot be harder to refuse than to accept tracking and personalised ads. Changes in UX and visual design, for example changing the ‘accept all’ button to green, are also called ‘dark patterns’ and are no longer allowed. 

Note that this legislation focuses on ‘very large platforms’; those that reach over 10% of the total 450 million consumers in Europe. For most organisations, that doesn’t directly create the obligation to change their own consent. However, once platforms such as Meta, TikTok and Google are forced to ask for consent to be tracked, you’ll see that the number of users accepting these terms will decrease. (FYI, platforms cannot refuse their services to those who do not consent). Although this won’t have a direct impact on most businesses, they will have to accept that there will be a larger group of people that can not be targeted based on user data.  In the long run, this may even change their business model.

guy on phone in portugal

What changes for gatekeepers?

The DMA stipulates that gatekeepers must not:

  • Treat services and products offered by the gatekeeper itself more favourably in ranking than similar services or products offered by third parties on the gatekeeper’s platform.
  • Prevent consumers from linking up to businesses outside their platforms.
  • Prevent users from uninstalling any pre-installed software or app if they wish to do so.
  • Track end users outside of the gatekeepers’ core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising, without effective consent having been granted.

More specifically, the DMA states that different messenger services are to be connected to each other, meaning that you can send a message from Facebook Messenger to Signal, or from iMessage to Telegram. This part of the DMA is heavily criticised, as the technical feasibility of connecting these services together is low; there is no protocol like there is for email (smtp) or phone (ss7). However, legislation isn’t meant to be a technical requirement, and this type of legislation will keep everyone on their toes.

Lastly, the DMA mentions that users outside of the gatekeeper’s platform can no longer be tracked without effective consent. The interesting twist here is ‘consent’. Under GDPR, consent was already necessary to track users online. You can therefore argue that nothing will really change. For many of these platforms, it’s already practically impossible to continue using their services without giving the right levels of consent. However, we need to see this in the context of the DSA as well. The combination of DSA and DMA could potentially mean that online platforms like Meta’s Facebook and Google, will no longer be able to create these enormous datasets based on personal and interaction data that can be used for targeting ads. 

The DMA also requires gatekeepers to be more transparent towards their business users. For example, this means that Meta and Google will need to provide more information on the ads and campaigns their business users run. So, your business won’t have to rely on inaccurate or intransparent reports, but instead have access to in-depth data that is created via your campaigns. 

Additionally, gatekeepers are no longer allowed to self-preference their products on their platforms (e.g. if you’re searching for a voice assistant on google search, Google isn’t allowed to place their Google Home in the first ranking). An obvious bonus for any smaller companies offering similar solutions. 

What to do now?

If you’re considered a gatekeeper (DMA), intermediary service, hosting service, online platform or very large online platform (DSA), changes will come your way. What exactly will change, depends on the kind of service you offer or the kind of platform you run. As a web hosting service you’ll have different obligations than a internet network provider or a marketplace. There won’t be a one size fits all solution, so do seek advice.

All other businesses will not be directly impacted by this new legislation, but will most certainly face indirect consequences. The most obvious impact is the restrictions of these platforms to target advertisements in a personalised way. Mitigating the implications of DSA and DMA are somewhat similar to the strategies we advise our clients to take to tackle the loss of cookies. Relying on these platforms to help you find your target audience isn’t a smart way to move forward. Instead, build your own robust first party database, invest in relationships with publishers directly and start investing in contextual advertising.

The first single digital market

There’s no doubt that this is an historic moment in digital regulation; the introduction of these new laws has set Europe as the first, single digital market in the free-world. While, in practice, GDPR and Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) have already limited the possibilities to target users specifically based on their data, the introduction of DMA and DSA brings clear regulatory monitoring and punishments for non-compliance.

While the implications of the new legislation will be most intensely felt by the tech giants, the ripple effects will undoubtedly be felt across all organisations utilising their platforms. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before smaller parties will also have to follow these regulations, so be advised to start following the same ‘consent rules’ that the tech giants are being given now.

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Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data

Willem Blom

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Digital Analytics – Tool Selection

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Christian Lubasch
Christian Lubasch
Global Lead of Data Practice
Date
29 June 2022

Without data and data analysis, modern digital marketing is now unthinkable. As marketers, we want to use our budget as effectively as possible, optimise our performance marketing, reach our target audience in the best possible way and convert them on an optimised website. Ultimately, we all try to convert our users into profitable customers with the right communication at the right time. But that is easier said than done. One thing is certain: we need data on how users interact with our brand, marketing activities and digital products.

Digital analytics has become a very broad and sometimes confusing field. Despite complex legal and technical frameworks, digital analytics will continue to lay the foundation for data-driven marketing in the future. However, what usually starts with campaign and conversion tracking can develop into so much more. 

In this article, we will give you an overview of the differences between the various digital analytics tools and which tool is best suited to your requirements.

The tool jungle

There is no clear demarcation in the tool jungle and tools clearly overlap with their features. However, in the following graph we try to guide you in your search for the most suitable tool.

Tool Selection Graph 1 ENG

The tool selection

In the following paragraphs, we lay out what the individual categories mean exactly and which tools belong to them. In addition, there is a brief overview of the country of origin for each tool, information on the size of the company for which the tool is particularly suitable, and a price estimate.

Marketing Analytics

Do you focus on more specific marketing use cases, e.g. advanced attribution modelling or deep performance analysis within a channel? Then you will find the right solution in this category. It is not about the “big picture”, but about specific marketing analytics possibilities. In other words: tools that come up with a special focus. Here you will find solutions for social media monitoring, brand analysis, SEO, and many more. At a high level, this can often be achieved with the “holistic” tools, but your specialists may need more. The target group is usually the corresponding team, e.g. the SEO team for SEO tools. Below you will find some examples:

Tool Selection Graph 3 ENG
Grafik 17
Tool Selection Graph 5 ENG

Product Analytics

If you are more interested in understanding how you can improve your digital products to ensure the best possible customer experience – or even just to increase sales impact – then you are better off in the Product Analytics category. This is less about effective use of the marketing budget and more about analysing product-specific issues. How do users interact with your product detail pages? Do they look at product images, reviews or delivery conditions? Is on-page search used and how do users react to the search results? What would your company have to change about the existing products to improve the user experience? Answers to these questions can be found in this category.

Tool Selection Graph 2 ENG

Business / Marketing Intelligence

If the standard reporting and analysis capabilities built into many tools are no longer enough for you, the next steps here are for you. Reporting automation across all channels (incl. costs & ROI) sound exciting? Then take a look in this category. There are now suitable solutions for every situation, especially to reduce manual effort. Later on, you can expand the setup and make it self-service capable so that your colleagues can gather the insights themselves without having to rely on ready-made reports.

Grafik 15 1

CDP / All-in-one

Some solutions are difficult to classify because they come across as very broad and powerful. If you can live with generalist tools from a single source, you could be in good hands here. But be aware of the strong dependency on the solutions. We have also placed the current trend topic Customer Data Platform (CDP) here. Such a solution is understood to be more of a platform for various use cases – a lot is possible, but whether you really need it or can make use of it is something you should consider.

A big advantage of these platforms is certainly the integration of the individual components. Especially when it comes to data activation, a CDP will make your life a lot easier compared to if you had to combine many individual tools.

Tool Selection Graph 4 ENG

Others

There is still room for an “Others” category, which is so special that we have separated it out. Here, special requirements such as competitive analysis (e.g. via Similarweb) or consent management (including Usercentrics, Borlabs Cookie or SAP Enterprise Consent and Preference Management) are dealt with. We have also not considered mobile-first or mobile-only tools (such as Adjust) in this article, even though they have very similar functions to those mentioned above.

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Global Lead of Data Practice

Christian Lubasch

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