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New Report from Acxiom Evaluates the Effectiveness of Marketing Technology in the Highly-Competitive Insurance Industry

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Senior Industry Leaders Understand the Power of Personalization for
Customer Growth and Retention but are Challenged with Creating Accurate
Data Foundations

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Acxiom®,
the data and technology foundation for the world’s best marketers, today
at Dig|In 2019, released a new report in partnership with
SourceMedia Research. The study explores the top martech issues facing
senior leaders at P&C (Property & Casualty), life and multi-line
insurance companies. Despite significant investments being made in the
martech space, insurance carriers are struggling to get value out of
their investments. The joint report, ‘Marketing Transformation for
Insurance – A Study of MarTech Through the Eyes of Insurance Leaders,’
unveiled top-tier and mid-tier carrier strategies and challenges in
maximizing the value of their martech investments, influenced by
increased volumes of prospect and customer data from various channels.

“The rapid proliferation of channels, devices and data sources has
impacted the complexity of identity resolution strategies. This, in
turn, increases the risk of brand loyalty erosion as competition soars
in this transformative climate,” said Clark Wooten, group vice president
of insurance services at Acxiom. “Customers expect carriers to deliver a
seamless and highly personalized experience, but organizational and
industry obstacles, including data silos and evolving data privacy
policies, can create barriers between the expectations of customers and
the experiences delivered by insurers.”

Key Findings:

  • Twenty-three percent of insurance executives indicated that enhanced
    customer experience is their primary indicator of marketing success in
    2019
  • Thirty-six percent of executives cited data quality and accuracy as
    their biggest obstacle to being able to obtain a 360-degree view of
    the customer, curate actionable insights, assign accurate marketing
    attribution and measurement, and prove ROI
  • Nearly three-fourths of insurers are currently using between five to
    14 martech solutions— clear evidence of the data fragmentation
    challenge within insurance organizations
  • Nearly thirty-five percent of executives did not understand the
    martech solutions they were developing or purchasing, finding the
    tasks of achieving data quality/accuracy, marketing ROI, removing data
    silos and managing data governance very challenging
  • Customer acquisition and retention (66 percent), personalization (60
    percent), and increased competitiveness (56 percent) were ranked by
    executives as the most important martech investments in the next 12
    months

The study also found that seventy-six percent of customers said they
were willing to take their business elsewhere if they weren’t getting a
highly personalized experience, and fifty-one percent said most brands
fell short of delivering a great customer experience. A Forrester report
in 2018 had similar findings. Data from Forrester’s CX Index proves that
when customers have a better experience, their intentions to stay with a
brand, buy more from that brand, and recommend that brand all increase.
But great customer experience in auto and home insurance is still rare.
That means that there is huge financial upside for insurers that
transform their customer experience.1 But simply
understanding the importance of making customer experiences better and
bringing together various martech tools designed to improve customer
experience are not leading to the success insurance marketers hoped to
achieve. The reason is that martech alone cannot solve the customer
experience problem.

“There is an overwhelming disconnect between results versus expectations
of the martech solutions insurance executives have purchased,” said
Jennifer Liptow, director of research operations at SourceMedia
Research. “Carriers must take a step back in order to get the data
foundation right, ensuring accuracy and compliance, in order to
effectively target customers and clearly differentiate their value
propositions among competitors.”

“The report clearly demonstrates that connecting the martech platforms
into what Acxiom terms a unified data layer or framework is much harder
than carriers realize. Many are trying to do this in-house but struggle
with integrations due to data challenges, lack of expertise and internal
resource constraints,” said Karen Imbrogno, senior insurance industry
strategist at Acxiom. “The majority of carriers are placing primary
focus on enhancing the customer experience yet struggle to measure
success with multiple projects continuously in play. The only way one
can measure accurately is by bringing all the data together — online,
offline, first-party, second-party and third-party data—into an
integrated framework.”

Findings from the report, which was conducted in 2018, are a telling
indicator of insurance executives’ priorities, with seventy-eight
percent of respondents stating that they are interested in implementing
a unified data framework solution to optimize their martech investments.
Partnership is key to uniting martech ecosystems at the data layer.
Since integrating marketing data and platforms is not a core part of an
insurer’s business, it is essential for them to work with an expert
partner who has a proven way to increase ROI and improve the customer
experience.

“Successful marketing depends on connected data at the foundational
layer,” added Wooten. “With a strong focus on creating a connected
ecosystem of marketing and advertising data services and technologies,
insurance companies will be able to create a single 360-degree view of
their customers while improving their ability to acquire, engage, and
retain customers, all of which is critical to proving ROI and maximizing
value.”

The report leveraged quantitative and qualitative interviews of 106
respondents at the director level or higher at top-tier and mid-tier
insurance carriers. To download the full report and learn more about
marketing transformation of the insurance industry, click here.

About Acxiom

Acxiom provides the data and technology foundation for the world’s best
marketers. We enable people-based marketing everywhere through a simple,
open approach to connecting systems and data that drives seamless
customer experiences and higher ROI. A leader in identity and ethical
data use
for nearly 50 years, Acxiom helps thousands of clients and
partners around the globe work together to create a world where all
marketing is relevant. Acxiom is a registered trademark of Acxiom LLC.
For more information, visit Acxiom.com.

About SourceMedia Research

SourceMedia Research is a full-service B2B market research service that
draws upon SourceMedia’s market expertise and proprietary database of
engaged executives to develop information and insights for clients.
SourceMedia Research provides research solutions for marketers, agencies
and others targeting sectors such as banking, payments, mortgage,
accounting, employee benefits and wealth management.

1 “The US Auto and Home Insurers Customer Experience Index, 2018:
How US Auto and Home Insurers Earn Loyalty with The Quality of Their
Experience,” by Ellen Carney, Faith Adams, August Du Pont, June 20,
2018, Forrester.

Contacts

Sherry Hamilton
Director, Communications
501-342-6029
sherry.hamilton@acxiom.com

Cannabis

Willow Biosciences Reports Third Quarter 2019 Results and Provides Operations Update

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Willow Biosciences Inc. (“Willow” or the “Company“) (CSE: WLLW, OTCQB: CANSF) has released its financial and operating results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019.

“Over the past few months, Willow has continued to advance its business strategy and achieved several important milestones,” said Trevor Peters, Willow’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have made meaningful progress on advancing our yeast strain performance and fully expect to meet our projected timing of scale-up development in the first half of 2020. In addition, we have completed the commissioning of our three labs and expanded our team of highly skilled scientists, preparing us for future development.  As the market for CBD and other cannabinoids continues to develop, Willow is positioned as a leader in delivering ultra-pure, pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids, at a highly competitive cost for the consumer packaged goods and pharmaceutical industries.”

Selected financial and operational information is outlined below and should be read in conjunction with Willow’s unaudited condensed consolidated interim financial statements (“Financial Statements”) and related management’s discussion and analysis (“MD&A”) which are available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com or on the Willow’s website at www.willowbio.com.

Highlights for the Quarter:

  • Willow’s science team successfully increased cannabinoid production by 25-fold and identified hundreds of beneficial genetic changes that are expected to provide additional increases.
  • Willow ended the quarter with strong liquidity, including approximately $24.0 million of cash on hand at September 30, 2019.
  • Willow continued to build out our three labs in Calgary, AlbertaBurnaby, British Columbia and Mountain View, California, spending $3.2 million in capex in the quarter ($6.4 million year to date as of September 30th). With the bulk of our capital spending to set up our labs behind us, Willow continues to focus on advancing our yeast strain to produce ultra-pure, pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol (CBD).
  • In the quarter we moved into our new facility in Calgary, Alberta located in the Life Sciences Innovation Hub at the University Research Park. The 4,000 square foot secure facility employs cutting-edge bioassay capabilities, liquid handling robots, and analytical instrumentation, and leverages access to the University of Calgary’s plant cultivation resources and growth chambers.
  • Willow continues to progress its intellectual property portfolio and expects to file five new U.S. provisional patent applications and one Patent Cooperation Treaty “PCT” conversion (which will convert an existing provisional patent application to a U.S. PCT application), all prior to the end of 2019.
  • Subsequent to the end of the quarter, the Company received its DEA Controlled Substances Registration Certificate for our Mountain View, California facility, which allows the Company to develop yeast strains which produce CBD.
  • On November 5, 2019, the Company commenced trading on the OTCQB® Venture Market under the ticker “CANSF”.
  • Willow’s directors and officers remain committed to the long-term success of the Company and since July 1, 2019, certain officers and board members of Willow have purchased approximately 1.5 million common shares and warrants of Willow in the market for aggregate proceeds of approximately $840,000.

Operational Update

During the past quarter, we have expanded our research and development team to 33 technical staff, including 21 Ph.D. level scientists, across our three sites. Our multidisciplinary team consists of plant scientists, strain engineers, analytical chemists and fermentation process engineers.  The team’s focus has now shifted from expanding its technical capabilities to program execution and operational excellence.  Our plant sciences team in Canada continues to advance its understanding of cannabinoid accumulation in C. sativa along with translation of these results in our yeast production host.  These results are further complemented by our high-throughput strain engineering capabilities in our San Francisco Bay Area labs to expand upon beneficial genetic diversity and further optimize our yeast strain toward commercial targets.  As a result of these combined efforts, we have increased cannabinoid production by 25-fold and identified hundreds of beneficial genetic changes that will provide additional increases.  These improved strains are now undergoing evaluation in fermentation tanks at our development partner’s facilities.  At our current trajectory, we anticipate delivering a strain for scale up development starting in the first half of 2020.

Financial Update

Willow ended the quarter in a strong financial position, with approximately $23.2 million in working capital and $24.0 million of cash on hand.

The Corporation’s financial results are summarized as follows:

Three months ended
September 30

Nine months ended
September 30

2019

2018

2019

2018

Balance sheet ($000’s):

Cash and cash equivalents

24,042

804

24,042

804

Total assets

38,624

1,038

38,624

1,038

Shareholder’s equity

24,727

975

24,727

975

Weighted average shares outstanding

Basic and diluted (000’s)

78,634

56,521

69,657

53,585

Year to date 2019 has been transformative for the Company. The transactions Willow has completed have had a significant impact on the comparability of the Company’s period over period results. See the Financial Statements and MD&A for further details.

Outlook

Willow will continue to focus on developing and refining our yeast-based strains that biosynthesize CBD, optimizing our production levels and improving the performance of our processes. We expect to reach a scalable production level in the first half of 2020, triggering the initiation of Noramco, Inc.’s efforts to ramp up production, file regulatory submissions and develop marketing and distribution plans. The scaling up of production to commercial levels is expected to take 12 to 18 months, followed by regulatory approval for the manufacturing process and customer sampling during 2021, and first bulk commercial sales anticipated in late 2021 or early 2022.

Following our successful financings, Willow is well positioned to fund our operations to commercialization.

Willow continues to evaluate strategic relationships with various entities in the consumer packaged goods and pharmaceutical industries. These partnerships will look to define our market participation and potentially gain entry into new global markets.

 

SOURCE Willow Biosciences Inc.

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Cannabis

OPSEU gives thumbs down to Ford’s attempt to fix cannabis debacle

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The Ford government’s latest reset of its disastrous decision to privatize cannabis sales is bound to make an already bad situation worse, says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“What will it take for the government to understand that cannabis retail stores need to be operated by trained professionals?” asked Thomas.

Thomas can’t believe the Ford government is set to move to an “open allocation” system for issuing retail cannabis licenses as early as January that could result in over 1,000 outlets across Ontario.

“I can’t figure out why the Conservatives think it makes sense to continue on with this privatization disaster,” said Thomas.  “We need a Responsible Plan, the kind of plan the previous government had that would have put cannabis sales in the hands of the LCBO.

“Polls have shown us that Ontarians are 11 times more likely to trust the LCBO than private retailers when it comes to keeping cannabis out of kids’ hands,” Thomas added.

“This is a matter of public safety. LCBO stores have trained professionals who have the training and experience to handle sales of controlled substances.”

Over a year ago when the discussion around cannabis retail stores began, the Ford government made a number of promises – promises they are now breaking, says Thomas.

“They promised a tightly regulated system. What does this new plan involve? It involves flooding the market. How is that responsible? The second promise was to keep our kids safe. This doesn’t keep our kids safe.”

“Our members who operate LCBO stores are experts in responsible sales,” he adds. “They keep our kids and our communities safe because they are trained and qualified. They take social responsibility seriously.”

It’s time for Ford to give up trying to find solutions for a problem that doesn’t exist, says OPSEU First Vice President/Treasurer, Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida.

“The solution has been there in front of them all along,” says Almeida.  “How many failed attempts and half-baked ideas are they going to try?”

“First Mr. Ford hits us with a crazy lottery scheme that resulted in only a handful of stores operated by people as random as the process that selected them and now he just wants to open this up as a free-for-all? We need a clear and thoughtful plan, and the LCBO is the solution.”

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

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Cannabis

CannTrust Provides Default Status Report

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CannTrust Holdings Inc. (“CannTrust” or the “Company”, TSX: TRST, NYSE: CTST) today is providing a status update in accordance with its obligations under the alternative information guidelines set out in National Policy 12-203 – Management Cease Trade Orders (“NP 12-203”), which require the Company to provide bi-weekly updates until such time as the Company is current with its filing obligations under Canadian securities laws. As previously announced, the Company is subject to a management cease trade order (“MCTO”) issued by the Ontario Securities Commission. The MCTO prohibits the directors and executive officers of the Company from trading in or acquiring securities of the Company until two full business days after the Company files an interim financial report for the three and six month periods ended June 30, 2019, an interim management’s discussion and analysis for the corresponding period and certifications of interim filings. The MCTO does not affect the ability of investors who are not insiders to trade in the securities of the Company.

Timing of Financial Results

Although the Company is continuing to make progress in working with its independent auditor in connection with its restated audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2018, its restated interim financial statements for the first quarter of 2019, and its interim financial statements for the second and third quarters of 2019, together with the related management’s discussion and analysis for the corresponding periods, such financial statements are unlikely to be completed and filed before the end of the calendar year.

The Company advises that: (i) other than as disclosed above, there have been no material changes to the information contained in the Company’s August 16, 2019 news release, August 29, 2019 news release, September 12, 2019 news release, September 26, 2019 news release, October 10, 2019 news release, October 24, 2019 news release, and November 7, 2019 news release; (ii) it intends to continue to comply with the alternative information guidelines of NP 12-203; and (iii) except as previously disclosed, there are no subsequent specified defaults (actual or anticipated) within the meaning of NP 12-203.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of Canadian Securities laws and “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other applicable United States safe harbor laws, and such statements are based upon CannTrust’s current internal expectations, estimates, projections, assumptions and beliefs and views of future events. Forward-looking information and forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “believes”, “expect”, “likely”, “may”, “will”, “should”, “intend”, “anticipate”, “potential”, “proposed”, “estimate” and other similar words, including negative and grammatical variations thereof, or statements that certain events or conditions “may”, “would” or “will” happen, or by discussions of strategy.

The forward-looking information and statements in this news release include statements relating to the corrective actions being taken by the Company, and Health Canada’s pending determinations. Forward-looking information and statements necessarily involve known and unknown risks, including, without limitation: actions taken in respect of the Company’s products by its customers and regulators; results of Health Canada’s investigation, including orders and compliance measures required by Health Canada and their impact on the operations, inventory, assets and financial condition of the Company; the Company’s implementation of remediation plans and related actions; regulatory approval; risks associated with general economic conditions; adverse industry events; loss of markets; future legislative and regulatory developments in Canadathe United States and elsewhere; the cannabis industry in Canada generally; and, the ability of CannTrust to implement its business strategies.

Any forward-looking information and statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and, except as required by law, CannTrust does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information or statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for CannTrust to predict all such factors. When considering these forward-looking information and statements, readers should keep in mind the risk factors and other cautionary statements in CannTrust’s Annual Information Form dated March 28, 2019 (the “AIF”) and filed with the applicable Canadian securities regulatory authorities on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and filed as an exhibit CannTrust’s Form 40-F annual report under the United States Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on EDGAR at www.sec.gov. The risk factors and other factors noted in the AIF could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those described in any forward-looking information or statements.

The TSX and NYSE do not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

SOURCE CannTrust Holdings Inc.

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