Greg Dolan, CEO & Co-Founder
Not knowing marketing performance in real-time has long been a frustration for brand marketers. Today’s complex marketplace–with myriad tactics available and disparate metrics assessing their impact–makes the need for access to the most up-to-date and holistic information, urgent. Marketers are constantly in search of predictive and prescriptive solutions that help them continuously make the right decisions that drive a business forward. The real challenge is to keep the decision-making process within the budget and figure out the best way to produce the desired impact.
Against this challenging backdrop, Keen Decision Systems offers MIDA (Marketing Investment Decision Analysis), a decision support system for marketers to optimize their performance in real-time, execute better decisions and efficiently deploy marketing spend across their mix. This enables a business to deploy a quick, efficient and agile marketing strategy. “Decision making becomes tougher as the industry continues to evolve, and a platform like ours is imperative for marketers to keep up with the speed of the market,” says Greg Dolan, CEO and co-founder of Keen Decision Systems, who co-founded the company in 2010 along with John Busbice.
MIDA delivers historical performance measurement and predictive and prescriptive assistance for marketers to optimize their spending choices across all channels and ties investments to financial outcomes. MIDA displaces the traditional marketing analytics, data science, and consulting work of current-day marketers and helps them in their decision-making process. “MIDA reveals the best areas to invest in and delivers a comprehensive perspective of the external environment and the market,” states Dolan. Dolan spent over a decade as a brand marketing executive with major CPG companies, where he craved insights that would allow him to understand how his marketing investments were driving business growth and shareholder value. He co-founded Keen to help marketers achieve just that, with a system that can predictively and prescriptively optimize a marketer’s investment decisions to maximize revenue, profitability and long-term value creation.
At the core of MIDA’s functionalities, marketers have access to their brand’s full knowledge estate, enabling them to build an accurate marketing model that can guide data-driven decisions in service of specific business objectives. The unique set of algorithms used by Keen’s system leverages a propriety database, called Keen’s Marketing Elasticity Engine (MEE) that offers a host of prior elasticities.
MIDA utilizes a Bayesian regression technique that leverages elasticities from Keen’s MEE as a “starting point”. However, these elasticities can be adjusted with information from any brand-specific studies including multi-touch attribution, previous marketing mix, and A/B testing. Keen’s system then ingests the historical marketing activity and financial data, which “pushes and pulls” the prior elasticity based on the data signal. Over time, new information can be appended to the system which, through machine learning,“teaches” the elasticities based on the new data patterns. This gives marketers the opportunity to analyze marketing performance across different tactics on financial outcomes, based on the latest information at any point in time.
The Differentiating Edge
According to Dolan, Keen’s system offers the only next-generation marketing mix system, fueled by three key traits that set Keen apart from the rest of the marketplace. Keen’s system forecasts real ROI results that are actualized with new data, and provides guidance to optimize marketing performance as quickly as new data is made available. This is further demonstrated to clients with a baseline plan that displays what a brand can do with and without the company’s platform. “There is a strong financial return of using our system, and that’s driven by the stronger financial return of our brands. We win when our clients win,” remarks Dolan. Secondly, Keen’s system offers unprecedented speed and flexibility, made possible by AI and machine learning. MIDA places the most relevant, accurate data needed to make smart decisions at a marketer’s fingertips. The system’s data connections to widely-used platforms such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads and more, allow for data to be seamlessly and automatically updated directly into the platform, allowing marketers to quickly pivot and adapt their mix as things change. No more waiting months to find out how you performed 6-plus months ago, Keen’s system updates alongside a marketer’s changing internal and external circumstances, such as budget cuts, seasonality, a new COVID variant and more to ensure their investments are at the right levels to drive profitability. Finally, Keen’s system is designed to be both affordable and scalable. Since MIDA is built to be industry and data-agnostic, it has the added advantage of customizable variables, in accordance with the client’s business model.
From the many remarkable client success stories, Dolan recalls the successful partnership with Post Consumer Brands, a leading American breakfast cereal manufacturer. Keen helped the Fruity Pebbles brand adopt a forward-thinking approach to their marketing decisions, providing the team with a framework to understand how they can more effectively and efficiently invest their marketing dollars. Keen’s expert team tailored their solution to account for all the data related to the brand’s marketing tactics, including various channels, seasonal competitive factors, pricing, trade activities, and external factors. Later, data from prior studies such as a previous marketing mix and MTA (multi-touch attribution) were incorporated into the system. Keen closely collaborated with the Fruity Pebbles team to identify all of the data sources for their marketing tactics, such as historical related to different media channels. Ultimately, the team was provided with a flexible, agile system that could automatically ingest data through APIs and other data connections, updating as new information became available. After just six weeks, the brand was up and running in a system with the ability to estimate models, run scenarios, and view results with a click of a button. The ultimate goal was to offer an easy workflow from start to finish, and Keen Decisions Systems was able to exceed the client’s expectations. Most importantly, the Pebbles brand saw real results. While the cereal category declined by about five percent over the prior year, Pebbles grew by 12 percent.
Decision making becomes tougher as the complexity of the marketplace continues to evolve, and a platform like ours is imperative for marketers to keep up with the speed of the market
For the road ahead, the company will continue its endeavor of developing the platform to be more powerful where it can effortlessly connect to various data sources and continuously update with new information. Keen’s focus consistently remains on delivering an excellent user experience, with the company’s product and development team working to deliver a seamless, digestible workflow and interface. Dolan foresees a future where the system will “close the feedback loop,” automating data ingestion, decision making, and results by connecting all information and data sources to provide actionable recommendations within a continuous loop of information. “We aspire to provide confidence to marketers so that they can approach the CFOs and the rest of the C-suite with a deep understanding of how marketing is driving their businesses, and how to maximize that impact with each next decision,” Dolan concludes.