Be a data driven Indiana Jones and find the Kingdom of the Marketing Gold
by Kevin Murphy
Data. Is there a duller word in the world? “Timesheets” maybe? Beyond that, for many there is no duller concept than data especially in an industry that is, if you believe in all these psychometric tests that everyone seems to do, full of “expressive” types who find the requirement of deep attention to detail their equivalent of garlic to a vampire. The concept of reams and reams of numbers that people have to sift through in the hope of finding a trend gets many of us snoozing before they even get to the end of this sentencezzzzzzzzzz. It’s not just agency types. For many clients the need to provide high quality data can be extremely time consuming and ultimately something they have neither the time nor the strength for, especially if they are dealing with collection of disparate legacy databases which would require involving other departments including, oh lord no, I.T.
Furthermore, in my fifteen years in this industry I have also seen clients who seemed almost afraid to get high quality data in as if it would just expose flaws in their marketing strategy rather than provide a genuine opportunity to learn and improve the next campaign. This leads to comments such as “econometrics is too ‘black box’” or a “commitment” to brand tracking that only happens once a year. From all groups there can be too much post rationalising of results that lead to repeat or middle of the road strategies which invariably generates the same or even diminishing returns even though targets inevitably get tougher year on year. Maybe the problem is that “accountability rivals “data” for the most boring word in the universe?
The truth is that clients and agencies need to think about the future. Not only is data here to stay, it is going to become even more critical. The digitisation and therefore “datarization” (TM K Murphy) of media continues plus there are emerging digital channels such as mobile and IPTV coming over the horizon.. In addition online technologies such as ad serving innovations like Doubleclick’s Exposure to Conversion reporting is generating additional and more sophisticated data that could radically change how campaigns are planned and evaluated. There is a tidal wave of data sweeping through marketing land and it is the companies who can harness that flood without being washed away who will win. Now that’s not a dull sentence is it? So maybe it’s time for the data process to be rebranded or at least reinvented in the mind of clients and agency planners. After all Indiana Jones made archaeology exciting didn’t he? That’s just about digging in dirt for fossils or inanimate objects. I’m not saying we should all don a fedora and sing rousing theme tunes as we work, though if that works for you then go for it. However I do think attitudes and priorities need to change because the agency of the future will need to have data, not digital, at its heart. Now where did I put my bullwhip?