By | August 1, 2018

One of the biggest panels at Advertising Week 2017 tackled one of the classic topics in the advertising, media, marketing,and related creative industries: The plan symbiosis of data and creative. The panel was moderated by Quynh Mai, Founder of Moving Image and Content. Her panelists included some of the best & the brightest stars in the business, namely:

  • Richard Alan Reid, BuzzFeed’s International Executive Creative Director and Executive Producer.
  • Renee Plato, the SVP of Media Solutions & Innovation at Nielsen.
  • Becky Wang, the CEO of Crossbeat New York.
  • Michelle Klein, Facebook’s Marketing Director in North America.
  • Kristen D’Arcy, who runs digital marketing, social & media for AEO.
  • Maureen Traynor, the Global Director, Creative Solutions in Spotify.

Since I know you are incredibly busy, allow me share the session’s conclusion at the beginning of this column: Successful brands & disruptors are inverting the traditional “top down” approach which was driven by Creative Directors, who ruled the industry for decades. They’re abandoning the siloed organizational structure which has become a barrier to success in the digital age.

Instead, they’re becoming better listeners & internalizing their data-driven customer insights across teams. It means they are adopting a data-driven approach to creativity & letting these insights drive the creative process instead of sticking with the “Mad Men” approach. Instead of retrofitting strategy to supply creative, the panel urged attendees to allow data & insights lead creative. It was the big takeaway. Get it? Got it? Good. Now, most of you could get back to work.

But, for those of you that want to dig deeper, there were 10 other observations that Mai was surprisingly can capture & summarize at the end of the session:

  1. Plato: Differentiate yourself.
  2. Wang: Establish your data approach.
  3. Plato: Learn about your customer.
  4. Traynor: Create for your customer.
  5. Reid: Engage with your customer.
  6. Klein: Use the resources to optimize online.
  7. D’Arcy: Use theresources to optimize offline.
  8. Wang: Think about the data in 3 dimensions.
  9. Traynor: Consider the context.
  10. Reid: Grow with your audience.

And for those of you who’re now kicking yourself for missing this session, relax. Follow the video: “Data <3 Creative: A Strategic Symbiosis.” Yes, it’s 41:46 long, but watching it’ll put you about a year ahead of most of your busy competitors, who stopped reading the column after the first 250 words.

Now, for those long-time readers that know that I tend to keep the good stuff on the top shelf or in the end of the column, whichever is hardest to achieve, allow me share the following plan insights, critical data, tactical advice& trends in the digital video marketing business. Hey, if I could be replaced with a video that is 41:46 long, then I stop writing now & start talking into my laptop’s webcam.

Audience Insights for Online Video Campaigns

Why is it so difficult to get the left-brained data geeks into the same room with the right-brained creative types when digital plans are being incubated? Do not both sides realize that using the whole brain is more likely to be successful?

Well, the panelists decided that outdated organizational structures & “top down” approaches were to blame. And, it is true that too many senior executives at ageing agencies put too many talented people into silos such as the “creative services” department/the “research” unit of the “marketing services” department. And they put these different departments on different floors of tall buildings with slow elevators/even in different buildings in big cities –are shocked, shocked to find that it is difficult to get their employees to collaborate.

And too many senior executives at brands have similar barriers to overcome. They are still using org charts that are generally modeled after the classic military structure used by Napoleon from 1793 – 1815. Seriously. Marketers use a lot of military terms, including plans, tactics, campaigns, objectives, divisions,officers, and territories that reflect the thinking of Albert W. Emery, an American advertising executive born in 1923, who said, “Marketing is a civilized form of warfare where most battles are won with words, ideas, and disciplined thinking.”

So, it is not surprising that the best & the brightest stars in 2017 would get that same conclusion that Pogo, a possum in the classic comic strip by Walt Kelly, reached back: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” But, will a simply reorg save big brands & aging agencies from a similar fate? Is that the only key to make sure that you get the left-brained data geeks into the same room with the right-brained creative types that digital plans are being incubated?

There’s an alternative approach that was discussed the day before this session was held. And, unfortunately, none of the rising stars who’re familiar with this alternative approach were members on one of the biggest panels at Advertising Week.