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How Market Intelligence Will Make Your Marketing Team More Agile

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How Market Intelligence Will Make Your Marketing Team More Agile


When I was younger, my dream was to open a cheese store with my family. My mom, brother, sister, and I — we’re all obsessed with cheese.

So anytime I see a cheese store, I’ll go in and sample everything … for research, obviously.

Although I’d never thought about it this way before, I was already thinking in terms of market intelligence and market research (two different concepts, but more on that below).

I was thinking about the product and its competitors.

As a marketer, market intelligence is important because it can help you understand your position in the market, evaluate your product, know your target audience, and conduct competitive analysis.

With this information, your marketing team will be better equipped to position your company in the marketplace. For companies that prioritize intelligence data, decision-making can be five times faster.

Feeling hesitant to rely on intelligence data? Gartner reports over one-third of organizations will rely on decision intelligence by 2023, making data intelligence a must for remaining competitive.

Below, let’s review what market intelligence is, how it’s different from market research, and the intel tools that can facilitate the process.

Market intelligence is used to learn about the existing market, customers, problems, competition, and growth potential. Businesses can gather this information through internal and external sources such as sales logs, surveys, social media, news websites, manufacturers, clients, or distributors.

For instance, companies can gather general demographics and spending habits of their consumers to write better, more targeted social media ads. Additionally, market intelligence can help a company make decisions on product development and establish a stronger brand.

How to Gather Market Intelligence

So, what type of information should you collect? Generally, market intelligence can be divided into four main categories of information:

Competitor Intelligence

This is the process of learning more about your competitors. To do this, you might conduct a SWOT analysis, so you can look at the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to uncover why customers would choose competitors over your product or service.

Product Intelligence

Once you’ve analyzed how you compare to your competitors, look inward at your own product or service. The goal is to learn about its quality and performance and identify opportunities for improvement.

If you have a physical product, you should also analyze your manufacturing process. Are you building your product in the most efficient way? This information should help you improve the user experience and improve your product.

Market Understanding

To truly understand how your product is performing, you’ll have to look at the various markets where it’s available. Could you expand your product to other markets? Are there other markets that could benefit from your product or service?

Ultimately, this information should help you understand where your audience is and what gaps exist, so you can fill them.

Customer Understanding

Understanding your customer helps to increase your product or service life cycle. That’s because it’s usually more expensive to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.

For this reason — and many others — you have to know your audience. Why do your customers buy from you? What challenges do you help them resolve? The goal here is to gather the information that can help your marketing team come up with targeted campaigns.

Overall, gathering market intelligence should answer questions like:

  • Where should we devote more resources?
  • What markets can we enter next?
  • What are our customers purchasing patterns?
  • What audiences should we market to?

Now, you might be wondering, “How do I gather this information?”

To conduct market intelligence, you’ll use internal and external sources of data, such as:

  • Surveys
  • Polls
  • Forms
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Observation
  • A/B tests
  • Competitor tracking analytics

Depending on the analytics you have available, a lot of this information can be found on your content management system (CMS) or customer relationship management (CRM).

However, before we jump into the software you can use to find this information, I know you’re probably thinking, “How is this different from market research?” Let’s dive into that below.

Alternatively to market intelligence, market research focuses on learning more about the buyer’s research process and what influences their buying decisions.

Example of Market Intelligence

Let’s walk through an example of how a fictional company could use market intelligence to create a competitive advantage.

JKL Podcasting Co offers online software podcasters can use to record, edit, and distribute their podcast to major streaming platforms. As marketers at JKL look to expand the company’s user base, they performed an in-depth analysis of the market for podcast recording software.

In this analysis, they covered four areas:

  1. Competitor landscape — They identified the top-ranking podcast recording software companies to understand their product features, pricing model, sales funnel, marketing tactics, and customer demographics.
  2. Product — After gathering competitor information, they worked with their product team to gain a deep understanding of their own product including key features, how it was like competitor products, and what differentiated it from competitor products. They also learned about up-and-coming features launching later in the year.
  3. Market analysis — Next, the team did research to understand the overall valuation and growth potential of the podcast recording software market. They learned podcast listenership has grown over the past decade and is expected to grow more in coming years, which could lead to more podcasts being produced. With seeing growth and investment in the podcasting space, along with increased interest in people wanting to start podcasts, marketers at JKL learn there is a potential market for new, or up-and-coming podcasters who want easy-to-use software.
  4. Customer base — Finally, the JKL marketing team reached out to a focus group of their current customers to understand their relationship to the product. The customers walk them through their podcast production workflow using JKL software and share what features they love, along with what new features or changes they would like to see.

After going through this exercise, JKL has gained valuable insight into their competitive landscape, product features to highlight, market growth opportunities, and ways to keep their current customer base engaged and using the platform.

You’re probably wondering, “How do I gather this information?” Below, let’s review what tools and software you can use.

Market Intelligence Tools

For market intelligence to be useful, companies need to conduct research and sort through their collected data for analysis. A lot of this can be done through your CRM software.

To start, many CRMs allow you to create competitor profiles in which you will track your competitors’ products, price points, organizational updates, social media activity, and more.

You’ll likely also find battle card templates in your CRM, making it easy for your sales reps to access the information they need during their calls to combat objections and persuade prospects.

In addition, you can conduct regular win/loss analysis with your sales team to determine strengths and weaknesses in your sales and/or marketing strategy. You’ll want to know:

  • What factors are contributing to your wins and losses?
  • What other company was the prospect considering for the sale? Why?
  • Which competitors are you beating and which ones you are losing to?

If you don’t already have a CRM, there are many out there that cater to businesses ranging from small to enterprise-level. Pricing is usually structured on a monthly basis and can range anywhere from $20/month to $1200+.

If your team would rather focus on specific tools, there are several online options to help you achieve your goals. Below are a few we recommend, divided into sections depending on your goals. Additionally, if you’re a HubSpot user, many of these tools integrate with HubSpot.

Competitor Intelligence

1. HubSpot’s Marketing Hub

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HubSpot’s Marketing Hub has extensive tools to help marketing teams manage, track and scale their efforts. The platform offers both free and premium subscription plans ranging from $45 to $3,200 a month.

2. Crayon

Market-Intelligence-Crayon-Homepage

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Crayon is one of the leading competitive intelligence (CI) tools in the industry. Its software can fetch and categorize data from over 300 million sources.

The platform also makes it easy for sales and marketing teams to find the intel they need, through battle cards, email digests, and a centralized dashboard.

For pricing information, you must contact the company.

3. SEMrush

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If you want to track your competitors’ SEO performance, SEMrush is a great place to start. The platform has extensive tools, including keyword research, domain overview, and keyword difficulty. This will give you more insight into your competitors’ strategies and how their efforts are performing.

Similar to HubSpot, SEMrush offers a free version of its platform. It also offers premium subscription plans ranging from $119 to $449 a month.

Product Intelligence

1. SurveyMonkey

Market intelligence Survey Monkey homepage

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Surveys are one of the best ways to learn more about how customers are responding to your products. Survey Monkey allows you to customize your survey to get the insights you need. Beyond a wide range of survey features like advanced survey logic and pagination, the platform also has tools to promote team collaboration.

Access to Survey Monkey starts at no cost, but their premium versions begin at $25/month.

2. InMoment

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InMoment, formerly Wootric, an analytics platform that helps you learn more about customer sentiment. You can gather real-time analytics, which arms your team to make decisions quickly.

The platform also has many integrations for easy team collaboration, including Slack, Zapier, and HubSpot.

For pricing details, you must contact the company.

3. Metadata

Metadata.io Homepage

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Metadata is a SaaS company that helps B2B brands generate demand for their products and/or services. On the platform, you can identify audiences, conduct experiments, and track the full sales journey.

Pricing starts at $3,950 for growing companies, with custom plans available for enterprise-level businesses.

Customer Understanding

1. Google Forms

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The stand-out feature on Google Forms is the simple and easy-to-use interface. In just a few minutes, you can have a survey ready to send out to your audience to collect data. You can receive alerts every time someone answers your survey and add collaborators.

The best part? It’s free for individuals and included in your plan if you have a Google Business account.

2. CallTrackingMetrics

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Too often, there’s a disconnect between sales and marketing teams – CallTrackingMetrics helps solve that. The platform offers a robust analytics tool that can identify which marketing campaigns are driving conversions, automate call processes for smoother interactions, and provide analytics — all in one place.

Pricing ranges from $39/month to $299/month, with custom plans available.

3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics homepage

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Google Analytics is a website analytics tool with powerful reporting capabilities to understand how users are behaving on your site. It’s a great software for brands that are already using other Google products, such as Google Ads or Google Business, as they work together seamlessly.

On the platform, you can get detailed reports by goal: acquisition, retention, engagement, and monetization. The visual dashboard also allows you to get a snapshot of your site is performing.

The standard version is free and ideal for small to medium-sized companies. Entreprise-level businesses must contact sales for pricing.

How To Leverage Market Intelligence Data

Once you start collecting data, unpacking it is the next step.

But before you dive in head-first, come back to your goal. What do you want to learn and why? Use that to steer your approach.

Having a clear direction is essential during this stage to narrow down what data to focus on. You’ll be compiling a lot of data, and not all of it will be relevant to your main objective. Knowing which will be most impactful will save you so much time and allow you to use your resources efficiently.

Now that you know what to focus on, start organizing and reviewing your data. You’ll want to look for patterns. During this step, keep an open mind. Confirmation bias (the tendency to interpret information to support a pre-existing idea or belief) can greatly impact how you interpret data, so it’s important to consider all perspectives.

Once you identify a theme or trend, dive deeper to answer the 5Ws. When did it start? Who or what is influencing this? Why is it happening? Where else is this trend identified?

From there, it’s time to strategize. Based on what your data is telling you, you can develop an action plan and make recommendations to key stakeholders.

For instance, let’s say your latest intel revealed that consumers are unaware of a key feature in your product line, which is steering them toward your competitors. Your recommendation could be to launch a marketing campaign that highlights that feature, create stronger messaging on your website product pages, and adjust the sales team’s scripts to place more emphasis on this feature and how it’s better suited for your customers than a competitor’s.

The formula is easy: collect, organize, identify, and recommend. Understanding your market is key to entering the market and maintaining your place in it. But if you want to stand out among your competition, you’ll need to leverage market intel.

Market intelligence can give you a holistic view of the market, improve customer retention, boost your efficiency, and give you a competitive advantage. So, I’m not being hyperbolic when I say market intelligence is vital for your company to succeed.

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MARKETING

The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them

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The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them

Ad fraud is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the latest data indicates that it will cost businesses a colossal €120 billion by 2023. But even more worrying is that fraudsters’ tactics are becoming so sophisticated that even big-name companies such as Uber, Procter & Gamble, and Verizon have been victims of ad fraud in recent years. 

So what does this mean for the rest of the industry? The answer is simple: every ad company, no matter their size or budget is just as at risk as the big guns – if not more. 

In this article, I summarize some of the biggest and most shocking cases of ad fraud we’ve witnessed over recent years and notably, what vital lessons marketers and advertisers can learn from them to avoid wasting their own budgets. 

The biggest ad fraud cases in recent years 

From fake clicks and click flooding to bad bots and fake ad impressions, fraudsters have and will go to any lengths to siphon critical dollars from your ad budgets.

Let’s take a look at some of the most high-profile and harmful ad fraud cases of recent years that have impacted some of the most well-known brands around the world. 

Methbot: $5 million a day lost through fake video views 

In 2016, Aleksandr Zhukov, the self-proclaimed “King of Fraud”, and his group of fraudsters were discovered to have been making between $3 and $5 million a day by executing fake clicks on video advertisements. 

Oft-cited as the biggest digital ad fraud operation ever uncovered, “Methbot” was a sophisticated botnet scheme that involved defrauding brands by enabling countless bots to watch 300 million video ads per day on over 6000 spoofed websites. 

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Due to the relatively high cost-per-mille (CPM) for video ads, Aleksandr and his group were able to steal millions of dollars a day by targeting high-value marketplaces. Some of the victims of the Methbot fraud ring include The New York Times, The New York Post, Comcast, and Nestle.

In late 2021, Aleksandr Zhukov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay over $3.8 million in restitution. 

Uber: $100 million wasted in ad spend 

In another high-profile case, transportation giant Uber filed a lawsuit against five ad networks in 2019 – Fetch, BidMotion, Taptica, YouAppi, and AdAction Interactive – and won. 

Uber claimed that its ads were not converting, and ultimately discovered that roughly two-thirds of its ad budget ($100 million) wasn’t needed. This was on account of ad retargeting companies that were abusing the system by creating fraudulent traffic. 

The extent of the ad fraud was discovered when the company cut $100 million in ad spend and saw no change in the number of rider app installs. 

In 2020, Uber also won another lawsuit against Phunware Inc. when they discovered that the majority of Uber app installations that the company claimed to have delivered were produced by the act of click flooding. 

Criteo: Claims sues competitor for allegedly running a damaging counterfeit click fraud scheme 

In 2016, Criteo, a retargeting and display advertising network, claimed that competitor Steelhouse (now known as MNTM) ran a click fraud scheme against Criteo in a bid to damage the company’s reputation and to fraudulently take credit for user visits to retailers’ web pages. 

Criteo filed a lawsuit claiming that due to Steelhouse’s alleged actions — the use of bots and other automated methods to generate fake clicks on shoe retailer TOMS’ ads — Criteo ultimately lost TOMS as a client. Criteo has accused Steelhouse of carrying out this type of ad fraud in a bid to prove that Steelhouse provided a more effective service than its own. 

Twitter: Elon Musk claims that the platform hosts a high number of inauthentic accounts 

In one of the biggest and most tangled tech deals in recent history, the Elon Musk and Twitter saga doesn’t end with Twitter taking Musk to court for backing out of an agreement to buy the social media giant for $44 billion.

In yet another twist, Musk has also claimed that Twitter hid the real number of bots and fake accounts on its platform. He has also accused the company of fraud by alleging that these accounts make up around 10% of Twitter’s daily active users who see ads, essentially meaning that 65 million of Twitter’s 229 million daily active users are not seeing them at all. 

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6 Lessons marketers can learn from these high-profile ad fraud cases 

All of these cases demonstrate that ad fraud is a pervasive and ubiquitous practice that has incredibly damaging and long-lasting effects on even the most well-known brands around the world. 

The bottom line is this: Marketers and advertisers can no longer afford to ignore ad fraud if they’re serious about reaching their goals and objectives. Here are some of the most important lessons and takeaways from these high-profile cases. 

  1. No one is safe from ad fraud 

Everyone — from small businesses to large corporations like Uber — is affected by ad fraud. Plus, fraudsters have no qualms over location: no matter where in the world you operate, you are susceptible to the consequences of ad fraud. 

  1. Ad fraud is incredibly hard to detect using manual methods

Fraudsters use a huge variety of sneaky techniques and channels to scam and defraud advertisers, which means ad fraud is incredibly difficult to detect manually. This is especially true if organizations don’t have the right suggestions and individuals dedicated to tracking and monitoring the presence of ad fraud. 

Even worse, when organizations do have teams in place monitoring ad fraud, they are rarely experts, and cannot properly pore through the sheer amount of data that each campaign produces to accurately pinpoint it.

  1. Ad fraud wastes your budget, distorts your data, and prevents you from reaching your goals

Ad fraud drains your budget significantly, which is a huge burden for any company. However, there are also other ways it impacts your ability to deliver results. 

For example, fake clicks and click bots lead to skewed analytics, which means that when you assess advertising channels and campaigns based on the traffic and engagement they receive, you’re actually relying on flawed data to make future strategic decisions. 

Finally – and as a result of stolen budgets and a reliance on flawed data – your ability to reach your goals is highly compromised. 

  1. You’re likely being affected by ad fraud already, even if you don’t know it yet

As seen in many of these cases, massive amounts of damage were caused because the brands weren’t aware that they were being targeted by fraudsters. Plus, due to the lack of awareness surrounding ad fraud in general, it’s highly likely that you’re being affected by ad fraud already. 

  1. You have options to fight the effects of ad fraud  

Luckily, as demonstrated by these cases, there are some options available to counteract the impact and losses caused by ad fraud, such as requesting a refund or even making a case to sue. In such cases, ad fraud detection solutions are extremely useful to uncover ad fraud and gather evidence. 

  1. But the best option is to prevent ad fraud from the get-go

The best ad fraud protection is ad fraud prevention. The only surefire way to stop fraudsters from employing sophisticated fraud schemes and attacking your campaigns is by implementing equally sophisticated solutions. Anti-ad fraud software solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence help you keep fraud at bay, enabling you to focus on what matters: optimizing your campaigns and hitting your goals. 


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