Top 5 Data Takeaways at Advertising Week 2017

After an incredibly vibrant and busy week of conversations, networking and celebrations, we find ourselves reflecting on Advertising Week. One of the biggest themes during the week was data. Discussions on how data is manifesting in our industry ranged from data’s impact on creativity and measurement to the quality of data itself. Here are my top takeaways from the most interesting themes that came up during the week.

1. Technology + Data = Creativity

Data has traditionally been considered the enemy of creativity, however on many panels this past week – including one I was fortunate to be part of – we discussed how data and technology play a great role in supporting and boosting creativity. Reaching consumers in the right moment and the right context is crucial for brands to be effective. To quote Maureen Traynor, global director creative solutions for Spotify: “Let data drive creative direction”.

Buzzfeed, which uses data to drive the direction of its content, is a great example of this data and creative mix. Buzzfeed generates around 600 pieces of content daily, but also has the ability to learn from their audience about what’s working and what’s not. “Our audience shows us the way,” says Richard Alan Reid, executive creative director, Buzzfeed.

The data and creative mix is also altering how marketers get the brand in front of target consumers at the right time and with the right message. In more than one panel, there was talk about a fundamental shift from Point of Purchase to Point of Decision. With data, marketers are finally getting closer to the moments when consumers make a decision about buying certain products and using interesting and unique ways of engaging consumers during these key moments.

2. Quality Data: The Missing link to AI

As anyone could have predicted, artificial intelligence was one of the most popular topics during the week. Mostly, AI was discussed in the context of its potential to help marketers get meaningful insights from the incredible amount of data to which they now have access. In fact, many were voicing the challenges they are currently facing as they work to effectively leverage AI’s potential.

The thing that seems to be standing in the way is data quality. As explained by Scott McDonald, president & CEO, ARF: AI does not get smarter if it is based off bad data. Actually, quite the contrary is likely to happen.

3. Combining First-Party and Second-Party Data

Many brands, from Spotify to GasBuddy, talked at length about making sense of the data at hand and enhancing it in the most effective ways. A common thread was that first-party data is very important. However, whether because of privacy implications or because of the need to further fill the gap, you can’t stop there. This is where second-party data comes in. GasBuddy’s SVP, Strategic Operations, Mark Coffey advised marketers to start with first-party data, then move on to second-party, including location data, to fully understand what interests your customers beyond your brand and build meaningful moments of impact.

Location data also came up throughout the week as a crucial dataset to help marketers understand consumer behavior and measure the impact of marketing activations.

4. Multi-Touch Attribution Will Push Closer Partnerships between Agencies, Platforms and Data Partners

For brands and agencies, measurement is the new currency for maximizing media effectiveness.  However, there are still questions on how to use data to measure advertising efforts and how to activate upon the right attribution model.

For many it starts with the ability to leverage cross-channel attribution, which Oracle, LiveRamp, and Acxiom agree is the “next corporate battleground.” The ability to identify the right consumer across all channels, serve the right message and measure its impact is paramount to success for marketers.

At Advertising Week, multi-touch attribution was touted as the holy grail. No surprise there, but it was encouraging to hear this over and over throughout the week as a most pressing issue for both marketers and martech companies. To crack the code on multi-touch attribution, panelists and attendees cited the need for a closer partnership between agencies, platforms and data partners, and a push to breaking down walled gardens to drive open innovation in the spirit of partnerships.

5. Increased Data Transparency

A recurring concern, raised by both agency representatives and brand marketers, was the lack of transparency and standards when it comes to data vendors. For example, when it comes to data for audience targeting, scale is great as it allows to reach more consumers, however, speakers expressed concern when dealing with big numbers without transparency, which prevents them from being able to verify the source of the data.

The fact that the industry is addressing the elephant in the room is a great, powerful sign.  It opens the door for the industry to evolve into a transparency framework like the one suggested by Jonathan Steuer, CRO, Omnicom Media Group, where data will have “food-like labels” informing buyers on its quality facets.

Antonio Tomarchio

CEO at Cuebiq

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