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Radha Subramanyam, chief research and analytics officer at CBS Television

Conference Insights: Yale Customer Insights Conference

Each year, Yale School of Management conferences convene leaders in a range of industries. Abby Loesch ’20 was a student volunteer at the Yale Customer Insights Conference on May 10. We asked her to share the key insights she took away from the experience.

Sponsored by the Yale Center for Customer Insights, the Yale Customer Insights Conference brings together leading thinkers and doers to discuss trends on the frontiers of marketing strategy, consumer choice, and product innovation.

My top three takeaways:

  • Almost all of the speakers on Friday talked about the democratization of data, and the art and science of data. They explained that people working with data and customer insights are sharing the information, more and more, with colleagues in other parts of their company, as other business functions are becoming more interested in data and are beginning to better understand and appreciate the importance of it.

    At the same time, many speakers also stressed that the utilization of data and customer insights remains both an art a science. Pulling the data and interpreting it is largely a science, but deciding how to use the customer insights gleaned (whether in creating a marketing campaign or developing a new product) is still an art.
  • David Rubin, CMO of the New York Times, and Seth Farbman, former CMO of Spotify, spoke a lot about shifting their emphasis from performance marketing to brand marketing. They weren’t looking so much for the numbers (like most views or highest conversions), but instead were building strong brands. That focus resulted in two incredibly impactful and inspiring campaigns from Spotify and the New York Times: “The Truth is Hard” campaign, and from Spotify: a data-driven campaign about user tastes and playlists.
  • New York Times CMO David Rubin also spoke briefly at the end about his experiences working at the Times and at Pinterest, both places where marketing is not the key function. His advice resonated with me because I want to go into marketing in tech—also an industry where marketing is not the key function. Rubin advised people who are interested in, or working in, marketing to try making the leap into companies and industries where marketing isn’t the center of the world, because it will ultimately make you better at your craft. He acknowledged that at times it was daunting to be in a place where marketing wasn’t really understood or valued, but that in the end, he was a better marketer for it.