Kiwis wrangle Facebook and iTunes data to create

Kiwis wrangle Facebook and iTunes data to create

The confluence of data and creativity—and figuring out how to combine the 'math and magic' to best effect—seems destined to be one of the marketing world’s biggest challenges in coming years. And Anthony Gardiner has checked both of those boxes with a website called that, by combining Facebook data and iTunes data, offers a look at what’s tickling the musical fancy of different demographics. 

Gardiner, who works as a social strategist at OMD, says the seed for the website was planted when someone asked him what he thought the most popular song in the world would be. He had no idea, but he thought iTunes—and particularly the always quite revealing 25 most played playlist—would be a good place to find out. As the idea developed, he realised that being able to segment the most popular songs into different age demographics, locations and interests would also be useful, both for individuals and brands.

Spotify, which now claims around 20 million users globally, recently announced some changes to its set-up in an effort to make it more social, more personalised and hopefully more attractive to advertisers (like Facebook, you can now follow individuals so it's aiming to become more of a discovery service than just a listening service). But Gardiner says iTunes, which has around 900 million users globally, had "absolutely no social aspects at all" and was ripe for the picking (he says he worked with Apple the whole way through the 18 months it took to build it). 

By downloading an app and connecting to your Facebook account, user data is added to the site (at present there are only around 30 users, but as the numbers increase, he says the lists will become more accurate). He believes it’s a possible world first and while he hasn't looked at every page on the internet, as far as he's aware it's the first time anyone has combined the two data sets. 

He says privacy is a big issue for all users at the moment and, given he has worked in the social space for so long (at NZ Army, Skinny Marketing, Affinity ID and now OMD), he says gaining permission and having a robust privacy policy was "very important". 

"A lot of people are talking about Big Data, but what you need to do is find a way to use it that adds utility and gives it back to the user in a different form," he says."People are asking for a return from the data they provide."

From a marketing perspective, he believes there are a lot of applications for this information, particularly around brand alignment, and he’s looking forward to seeing how creative types find ways to use it.

Previously, he says the only way a brand could find out what its audience’s favourite songs were would be through a focus group, and that was "claimed behaviour rather than real behaviour". But this tool will allow brands to find out the 25 most played songs for those, who, for example, like Air New Zealand on Facebook, or maybe those who like Air New Zealand on Facebook and are between the ages of 20-30.

He thinks it will be especially valuable for brands aiming at the youth market, but he reckons it could help with anything from choosing the music for your store or your ads, deciding what kind of downloads to offer as freebies or even choosing the right radio show to sponsor.

“As marketers, it’s hard to know what’s cool,” he says. “For example, Glassons could find out what their fans are listening to and tailor their playlist to that in store. Music plays a big part in getting consumers to flop out their wallet.”

As for the site's business model, the songs on the lists are linked through to iTunes and he gets five percent of every song downloaded through Brands and marketers are able to check out the information for free, and he hopes the trade-off is that these brands promote the service to their fanbases to help grow the network, make the data more accurate and, of course, give him some more pocket money for the Herne Bay Local. 

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