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Sky’s Robert McLaughlin: First Party Data brings Competitive Advantage

“Few companies are truly data-driven. They collect tons of data, but do not really use it,” says Robert McLaughlin at an Avaus hosted luncheon at the Marketing Tech 2018 in Helsinki on April 19th. McLaughlin, the head of Digital Data and Personalisation at SKY UK, has been instrumental in creating one of the most successful omni-channel marketing organisations in Europe.


“Many companies have invested huge amounts in customer data, without ever really putting it to use,” says Robert McLaughlin during a luncheon discussion with Avaus Marketing Innovation country manager Emma Storbacka. McLaughlin describes Sky UK:s two-year marketing transformation journey that started by integrating previously siloed offline and online customer data. Only then, customers could be properly addressed, throughout the company.


“We have 11 million UK customers, and now we can talk to them in any channel they choose to use when interacting with us,” Says McLaughlin. He says that his team use human reasoning in parallel with AI to decide whether a given customer wants to purchase a new product, get service or receive recognition for being loyal. “First-party data really gives us a competitive advantage,” says McLaughlin.


“It is easy to do in one specific channel, but when a customer is using several devices online plus offline channels, companies tend to lose track. We certainly did, until recently,” Says McLaughlin who continues by telling how customers react badly when treated as strangers, even though they have been subscribers for a decade.


Emma Storbacka says that Avaus Marketing Innovations invited McLaughlin as a special luncheon guest at the Marketing Tech 2018 event because Sky UK represents one of the single most sophisticated marketing organisations globally.


“Sky’s analytics team is extraordinary, because they do not have big data or AI backgrounds, but have nevertheless managed to create one of the most sophisticated data-driven organisations in the world,” says Storbacka.


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