Creativity, technology and data: Digital is no longer marketing’s poor relative

Juan Luis Polo

14 October 2015

Take advantage of the information made available through data invested in the marketing world. This data, which is used to invest in new profiles and technology, can also be used to make much greater and more significant decisions than could be made years ago, rather than investing so much in advertising (Mark Torrance; CTO Rocket Fuel.)

Being back in front of the Association of Digital Agencies in Spain (AD) provides an observation point overlooking the digital transformation that companies are facing, whether they are customers or partner agencies. And from this viewpoint, we detect things that could be going unnoticed for a great majority of these companies, yet they continue to move forward.

To start at the beginning, one of the most enduring trends in the digital environment is the constant use of our mobile phones, to the point of becoming the sole means of communication for many people. We are closer than ever to the concept of the “Mobile-Only User” – that is, the person that never seeks out business information through a computer; and that sets a challenge for the agencies and advertisers, who have to decide how to “bundle” the selling points of their products or services onto screens of 4 to 5 inches – if not, “fight” to get an advert featured, and to have an impact in a such a tiny space.

The other great reality is the intensive use of social media. With its enormous capacity for micro-segmentation, ROI measurement and optimization; its native advertising formats, which are perceived as less intrusive, as they are interacting with people in their own codes and “lingo”; the progressive incorporation of the purchase button; the adaptation to mobile phones and the incorporation of external networks; and retargeting techniques on and off the platform, they are configuring a panoramic perspective so immense and so powerful that it’s difficult to imagine what the future holds, despite the fact that we are technically already there.

And if that were not enough, the programmatic planning of digital media, with its tremendous potential in the optimization of conversions, is becoming the medium without which it will be difficult to compete.

We are facing a scenario dominated by technology, in which the barriers to entry for competition tend to decrease; in which the people move from one screen to another with ease, discarding all those impacts and influences that are not relevant to them.

In this reality, one of the toughest challenges for advertisers and companies is understanding the customer journey; that is, in order to identify the points of contact at which to show them content and creativity that is most relevant to their tastes and preferences, as well as their circumstances.

Moreover, no one disputes the fact that digital platforms allow the accumulation of an immense quantity of data about users; and if well managed, this data provides such specific knowledge that, when combined with technology, allows message personalization and forms of creativity adapted to user preferences, either through affinity clusters or, at a more advanced level, on an individual basis.

But this is all just one part of a more complex equation, that is, how best to leverage this data?

And while most professionals are considering incorporating more technology, it is time to put people and their ability to take advantage of this technology first. In fact, we are facing very challenging circumstances that require new professional profiles: mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, data analysts, etc. Who would have predicted ten years ago, that for an agency to become a prestigious player in today’s market would have to publish offers in the search for such different profiles.

To be truly customer-centric, teams should be formed from an integration of creative, analytical, and technological abilities, combined with a great understanding of the business of the customer.

The reality of the digital transformation that we are approaching in agencies, the integration of highly-qualified people to undertake a world full of information, and their complete collaboration with pre-existing teams in full capacity, pits us against the real challenge that our industry faces – that is, the comparison of digital fees to those which agencies and advertisers agreed on years ago in the era of “traditional” communication activity.

The “digital” cannot be the catchall where the remainder of the budget for traditional media activity ends up. Customers now have the upper hand, and their consumption is more digital every passing day.

Before anything else, however, the philosophy needs to be #peoplefirst: provide them with technological and economic means to interpret messages that are incorporated within the data that we so painstakingly go to a lot of trouble to collect, in order to help the client in making brand differentiation decisions.

Creativity, data and technology – Welcome to the 21st century agency.