Michael Kaushansky, President Helia & Chief Data Officer, Havas
The Pivot to Data and Technology
The world of marketing continues to pivot towards data and technology (D&T). This pivot is not a mandate from brands, or driven by consumer dynamics or the fact that data is increasingly more available; rather the fundamental driver of why brands and agencies are pivoting towards D&T is the inherent need to make smarter decisions in today’s fragmented and complex advertising ecosystem. The distribution of content has become niche, disintegrated and viral; there are thousands of ways to connect with consumers. Consumers choose how, when and where they consume content. Furthermore, consumers can now influence a brand’s advertising in real-time. The way a brand communicates can longer ignore this, it cannot follow a simple flowchart (they still do) or represent the dynamics of a campaign via a two-dimensional PowerPoint deck (still prevalent today). For any brand, unless they have unfiltered trust of their agency, will want to dig into the data. In summary, for a brand to deliver relevant communications and engage with consumers, the adoption of D&T is a requirement. After all, how can you translate a thorough data driven plans to an in-market reality?
You need talent to pivot. Historically brands possessed a peripheral understanding of D&T. brands didn’t need to triangulate millions of options to make decisions in near real-time. Agencies, while more advanced, would typically have 2-3 “data show ponies” they would feature during client pitches or client presentations. This would “wow” the clients and yet revert to classic ways of planning, activating campaigns and measuring success. If you look at the most successful brands without baggage, they operate and recruit differently. Brands like Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, etc. view advertising in the same way they think of their advanced operations. Algorithms drive many of their decisions and true experimental design is the measure of success.
Brands and agencies have taken notice. Change is coming and it is transforming these organizations. Transformation is coming in the way of talent, organizational structure, services and investment in D&T.
The reality is that more planning does not reduce the risk of failure in today’s marketplace
In the US alone brands and agencies spend $10B on data and $34B on marketing technology.
There is a rapid convergence:
• From classic way of doing marketing and data science.
• From univariate decision making to artificial intelligence.
• From panel measurement to measuring everything.
• From a FTE model to a services model.
• From marketing and data talent silos to marketing engineers.
Brands must move quicker. The reality is that more planning does not reduce the risk of failure in today’s marketplace. However, moving blindly is not the answer. Through a purposeful approach of:
• Mindfully maximize the use of D&T
• Prototyping and learning “on-the-fly”
• Integrating a new breed of talent (dubbed: Marketing Engineer) brands can pivot and get ahead of their competition
After all brands equity is evaporating quickly. The new strategic asset is in fact the data brands possess to understand their consumers, make smarter decisions and measure success to optimize their strategy. There are several ways to structure a better use of D&T, below is a list 3 considerations:
1. Clearly define your D&T organization model:
a. Center of Excellence, strong leadership in place to manage a unified versatile team
b. Hub and Spoke, centralized strategy and roadmap with localized execution
c. Federated, localized execution with deep expertise of the local requirements and needs
2. Pick wisely: Build, buy or rent. Determine the right technology and software fit for you organization. Depending on the type of business you manage the wrong procurement selection can have significant negative implications.
a. Build the technology and software to support unique use cases. While building may provide a differentiation in the marketplace it can also require continues support and upkeep to stay competitive.
b. Rent, license services based on estimated use and the possibility of a switch if things don’t work out. Lowering the level of decision-risk certainly has immediate benefits and allows you to test before your commit, with that said it could slow you down and disrupt your workflows by keeping partnerships dynamic.
c. Buy, commit to a long-standing relationship with a technology and/or software provider(s). Making a commitment allows you to galvanize and train your organization to maximize the use of a technology and software long-term, albeit the marketplace is dynamic and you need to ensure you make the right choice.
3. Commit to D&T: “Nobody has ever gotten fired for sticking with data”. Transform your Marketing Managers to Marketing Engineers and assign your strategic initiatives and investments decisions to people with strong analytics bent. Analytics people continuously triangulate data, run simulations, and are closest to your business metrics. This constant data training enables them to be quick, calculated and decisive in solving challenges beyond just data assignments. The most successful brands know this and make data talent the center of how they make decisions.