Thank you. I’m delighted to be here. I’m honoured to be the opening speaker at this prestigious event.
And I’m doubly delighted to be here as a relative outsider. I’m not an outsider because I’m a Brit. You guys are familiar enough with the on stage crankiness of Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell and Ricky Gervais, and I’m not going to add to that. I’m a relative outsider because I’m a Poet. My bona fides:I’m an advertising planner by training. Today I’m chief strategist for Euro RSCG, one of the world’s top ten ad agency networks. I work across advertising, healthcare and pure play digital Now we work on data-drive businesses every dayWe have a superb analytics unitand we have IBM as a flagship client But on a cosmic scale I’m probably in with the Poets rather than the Quants. I’m a Poet in an industry and a world where the Quants are increasingly setting the agenda. You know the stats.
In 2010, people created 800 billion gigabtyes of information. That’s a Macbook Air (which I think is probably the ad industry’s standard unit of measurement) of data for every person on the planet. By 2020 it will be 50 times that amount. McKinsey thinks the US workforce needs an extra 1.5 million data literate managers just to cope with that volume of data.
IBM’s annual CMO survey suggested that the biggest issue facing marketing leaders is the explosion of data. "Like CEOs, you told us that market and technology factors are the two most powerful external forces affecting your organization today. The four biggest challenges you identified were the explosion of data, social media, the proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics.” So it’s a Quant’s world. And advertising is becoming a Quants’ industry.
Last month Ad Age reported how Deloitte and Accenture had entered the marketing services business. I’ll quote from the article
"Everyone is coming to the same place, trying to find the sweet spot between tech, creative and data,” "The largest brands in the world were getting incomplete solutions from their myriad vendors. "Clients, in my view, are finding it more credible to reach into marketing from technology" rather than the other way around. They’re running campaigns for Proctor and Gamble. Now the sheer size of their machinery and the sheer power of that promise could really shift the balance of power.
And when you hear Accenture’s Glen Hartmann says this: "The Old Spice campaign was a wildly expensive manual execution. When you ask, "How do you do that at scale on an ongoing basis?' the room gets quiet." It kind of feels like the moment in Independence Day when the giant spacecraft appears above the White House. Today, big data could be muscling brand people out. That’s a game changer Scalability requires technology investments that the creative industries haven’t been used to making before. It needs a troop of math, comp sci and economics majors, the kind of people who haven’t had the creative industry on their radar before
And I wanted to understand just how the creative industry was responding to the rise of big data. I spoke to many of the creative industries leading practitioners. Big data, meet Big Qual People working everywhere from the biggest advertising agencies to the biggest digital agencies; from people working directly with data to creatives working with the consequences. What unites them, poets, quants, poets turned quants, is excitement about the possibility of big data. So what I have for you is some wisdom and insight from across the industry. The personal opinions and the hang-ups are, of course, mine.
What comes out of the conversation is this. There’s still a place for poets in Big Data I’m here to tell my fellow Poets to get involved. I’m here as a relative outsider, appealing to be an insider.I’m here to suggest that the rise of Big Data creates a whole new set of opportunities for the Poets of the industry And I’m here to suggest, respectfully, to my Quant cousins, that Big Data will fulfil even more of its promise to grow businesses and improve the quality of people’s lives if we apply a Poet’s approach to it.
The first message
The worst reaction is to opt out This is a wholly artificial division that if we don't stop is going to get out of control.It will be a disaster for strategic planning in particular, allowing some planners to exempt themselves from the data they can't be bothered to investigate and allow other people to think that they are a strategist though they haven't a brand strategy or creative bone in their body. Dangerous to divide the world in to people who do & don’t get data. It would be a dumb, self-defeating reaction. The business has left the station, taking the income and moving the center of gravity with it. It would also be self-defeating to lose a brand builder’s sensibility from the increasingly data-driven industry of marketing. People need to be captivated and understood as well as targeted. Brands deserve a voice as well as a price. This remarkable business could evolve in to something uglier if the poets of the industry don’t have the good sense to get involved.
It doesn’t have to be like this. And it wasn’t always like this. In many corners of the world, bridging brand and creativity and data was a central role in creative businesses.
This quote is from Stanley Pollitt, the founder of the discipline of planning at what is now the London office of DDB. Back in the 70s they used to advertise at the Oxford and Cambridge University careers fairs looking for: “Numerate graduates with an interest in human psychology.” The same agency recently instigated a data literacy test for potential strategic planning recruits. Interestingly they found that the people who did best in the test also did best in the free-flowing, creative-led interview process.
The industry has accidentally separated what should be two sister disciplines. The end of full service creative and media agencies took a ton of audience and campaign performance data out of the creative agencies and put them at arm’s length. And the rise of mechanical IPSOS and Link tests tainted the idea of consumer data, because it fixated on claimed, lab-condition data rather than what real people were doing out in the real world. It separated the data from the creation of the idea and left it to mark the idea instead. It’s time to bring it all back together. I think there are four big reasons why the Poets of our industry should and will love Big Data.
Many creative people have seen the rise of Big Data in terms of Data visualization: it’s been very fashionable in the past couple of years.
The creative industry adoption cycle Jess Greenwood from Contagious Magazine joked that there’s an adoption cycle in the industry. Someone does a TED talk on a subject (in this case David McCandless)Someone (Russell Davies) writes a provocative post about itSomeone makes it work at a cool agency in SwedenThen the industry thinks it gets it That’s certainly the case for Data Vis
That’s one way for the Poets to respond – if you can’t beat it, make a fun visual meme out of it…It’s a beautiful and fresh response, but it barely touches on the potential of big data. Our ambition should be higher than better graphs.
Big data is telling us the truth about how brands grow. And it’s what the Poets believed all along. Big behavioural data is telling us the truth about how brands grow.
I want to call out Professor Byron Sharp here. He’s an Australian academic who has been looking at immense volumes of consumer panel data from categories and countries around the world. He’s amassed enough data points to observe some universal truths abut how brands grow. And here’s the prize. The truth turns out to be a lot closer to the broad, emotional view of the Poets than the mechanical levers that some marketers believed they could pull. It turns out that people don’t see the particular rational differences and reasons to believe that are meant to distinguish brands. It turns out that brand growth and share growth are all down to penetration That most promotions target existing users and fail to grow the brand That audiences decode communications from brands in a low involvement way, where emotion and tapping in to people’s memories is the most effective approach. Big data is confirming many of the truths that the Poets of the industry held to. This will be just the beginning. The more we mine big data, the more truths we’ll see about how people buy brands – what’s a human truth versus what’s a marketer’s myth. This will be incredibly liberating for the Poets of the industry.
We all know that data only achieves its potential when we begin to interpret it. And a lateral, more human interpretation of that big data leads to more insightful answers about human behavior. Seeing it through a Poet’s eyes helps. Let me share an example of this from my own company.
Recently we’ve been working on the promotion of Atlantic City as a visitor destination. And as with all brands, we were trying to identify the most promising audiences for Atlantic City. So we built a composite audience of site visitors to every AC casino. What Mosaic demographics were going here? And was this a different audience from the demos of the rival resorts? Data showed that while six similar demographics made up the majority of Foxwood and Mohegan Sun visitors, it took ten diverse demographics to make up the majority of AC visitors It’s already a lateral, off-menu choice to build these composite audiences.
Then we looked for unifying factors. And a purely mechanical look at the data would have concluded that these ten groups were very different by taste and behavior. Then we sent the analysts down to AC for the night. The verdict? Good time groups rubbing shoulders with each other: Tiesto fans and James Blunt fans, next to dressed up bachelorette parties and three generation dinner parties.
The same data showed that the audiences were all on the same trajectory, all in pursuit of their age and income’s version of a straightforward, materialistic good time. That would have been two weeks of focus groups, and a Hail Mary pass of a debrief. With enough behavioural data, and an imaginative, empathetic analyst, it’s a day’s work with robust proof. A Poet’s eye on the problem solves for that problem differently.
The humanities graduate, the ‘poet’ has a natural role here, if She can be bothered to take it. And it’s the people at the sharp end of the data business who are most passionate about this. William Charnock from RG/A is passionate about this: “If only it were as simple as the big data pundits make it. "Just look at the data and the answers will be apparent.” There speaks the person who has never looked at data over time and in detail. They are simply talking about data rather than actually working with data.”
Les Binet who leads DDB’s econometrics unit and is a board member of Wharton’s future of advertising group contiues the charge.Data in itself is pretty useless. It's how you analyse, interpret and act on it that matters. Technology allows us to collect a lot more data now, but I think a lot of what passes for analysis these days is actually pretty crude, both in terms of mathematical sophistication and in terms of human insight. Analysis of response rates is often no more sophisticated mathematically than the stuff Claude Hopkins was doing in the early 1920s. This is partly because it's all so new, and we're still struggling to make sense of it all. But there's also a human resource issue. Good analysis of marketing data requires some pretty sophisticated mathematical skills AND a good understanding of people. Most of the good mathematicians are siphoned off by the world of finance these days, and good mathematicians who also understand consumers as people are very rare indeed. That's why some data-driven thinking seems crude, simplistic and intuitively wrong. It's not the data that's the problem. It's the analysis.That’s the gap for the Poets of the industry to fill There are more immediate creative possibilities from Big Data.
So, just as we generate data by travelling our little paths through the internet, the ways in which we move in real life are generating data.
Every time you pay for something, go somewhere, text from somewhere, check-in somewhere… you're generating data. And that presents all sorts of interesting opportunities to create platforms that manage that data in real time, and apply a layer of creativity to it in order to actually contribute something to the end user other than an ad campaign. Which is why creative people should care about data.
Not just cool data visualizationAlthough this is coolThis is something Wieden and Kennedy created from the data fields of Nike Plus running appWhen Londoners aren’t drinking tea or rioting in the streets…
For example, Simple is a new bank. The mission statement is to create 'a bank that doesn't suck' (tough call, but interesting idea). The CEO of Simple was musing a while back that every time you use your credit card for a transaction, you generate 120 fields of information. What time it was, where you were, what cashier you bought from, whether you got cash back, what else you bought your items with….tons of it. And yet somehow, the only field that your bank gives a damn about is whether or not you have the money to pay for the items you want. The Simple guys are looking for creative ways to utilise those 119 other fields in order to help build a banking experience that caters meaningfully to the individual, and therefore doesn't suck.
Creative output generates data. As we develop digital products and services we are also creating data. Data is not a byproduct of our creative activities; it is core to them.If our creative product is interesting to people and engages them, we get more, better data. If we design our creative in different ways, we get different data The best new example of this is Nike Fuel.Nike fuel band is also a great example of a product that RGA created for Nike - their first product for them - that introduces a new metric/currency (fuel) which is gets the category away from 'calories' to a new measure of energy in and out.It's probably the most interesting because it is so obviously a data centric product but it also puts Nike in the thought leadership position about the data metric that matters.
The Buddy app monitors the mental health of people suffering from depression. Text a number from one to five when it asks how you’re feeling. If it’s one, support is on its way.
It actually reframes brands. The logical conclusion is that all brands become technology brands that happen to specialize in a particular service. Nike becomes a tech brand that makes you active; P&G becomes a tech brand that makes live easier for moms. This is the kind of big picture opportunity that Poets love. And the more the Poets get involved, the bigger shift we should see in the role of Big Data in the communications industry.
From optimizing at the end of the process To inspiring at the beginning of he process. Breaking the ‘service bureau’ mentality and putting data experts at the heart of developing creative ideas. Moving them, as we do at Euro New York, right in to the creative department of the agency. I’d like to finish on three new practices that I’d like to see from the Poets of the industry.
Data jacking Creative use of data, leading to more inspiration at the beginning of the development process The deliberate mis-use of the behavioral, transactional, social and attitudinal data surrounding today's brands. Coming up with radical insights despite having big gaps in conventional intelligence. It will involve applying deep rigor and discipline to highly speculative leaps of faith.
Data narrating You can’t simply let big data do the talking without some kind of intelligent psychological model to work with. I want to see the Poets putting themselves forward for this role. I want to see Accenture sticking people with a real human psychology sensibility at the top of that analytical pyramid.
Data fuelling I want to see data offered upfront as raw material to all creatives. Here’s the data we have about our customers, here are the data fields we collect, now what could you create from them? There’s a real promise for creative people here. In recent years the industry has realized how the most powerful creative ideas are useful or interesting, not just entertaining. Now we’ve got a chance to create what Jess Greenwood of Contagious called The Transformation Economy: creating data-driven engagements that can make people smarter, happier, healthier when they spend time with them.
There’s a real promise for creative people here. In recent years the industry has realized how the most powerful creative ideas are useful or interesting, not just entertaining. Now we’ve got a chance to create what Jess Greenwood of Contagious called The Transformation Economy: creating data-driven engagements that can make people smarter, happier, healthier when they spend time with them.
We’re beginning to see all of this happen. And everywhere it happens, it’s positive. We can see it happening in politics and in news, where writers are seeing Big Data as an empowering new source. This is AronPilhofer, the interactive news editor of the Times. “Journalists need to treat data as a character in one of their news stories. Data’s just a source. You need to knock on the door and ask the data if it has a story to tell.” He’s actually teaching a course in this at Columbia Journalism School. Now it’s time for the strategists, the creative directors and the ad men to ask the same question. Knock on the door and ask the data if it has a story to tell.
The poets of the industry need to take the same human, lateral, pirate attitude to big data that they took to psychology in the nineteen sixties when they developed qualitative research. Not only will it keep the Poets in the game, it will create something new and better for the entire business. Thank you.
0915 omma data tom morton
22nd February 2012POETS AND QUANTS HOW BRAND PEOPLE CAN LEARN TO LOVE BIG DATA To m Mo rt on, chi ef st rat egy offic e r, E uro RSC G N Y @ T O M M O R T O N @ E U R O R S C G N Y
"Like CEOs, you told us that marketand technology factors are thetwo most powerful external forcesaffecting your organization today.The four biggest challengesyou identified werethe explosion of data,social media, the proliferation ofchannels anddevices, shifting consumerdemographics.”
“Everyone is coming to the same place, trying tofind the sweet spot between tech, creative anddata."The largest brands in the world were gettingincomplete solutions from their myriad vendors.Clients, in my view, are finding it more credible toreach into marketing from technology rather thanthe other way around.” Glen Hartman & Brian Whipple, Accenture Interactive
“The Old Spice campaign was a wildlyexpensive manual execution.When you ask, „How do you do thatat scale on an ongoing basis? theroom gets quiet.” Glen Hartman, Accenture Interactive
Les Binet Gareth Kay Sarita Bhatteuropean director chief strategy officer MD, digital planningDDB Matrix Goodby Silverstein Euro RSCG NYWilliam Charnock Paul Matheson Marc Blanchardchief strategy officer chief strategy officer creative directorRG/A New York BBDO North America Euro RSCG 4DJess Greenwood Suzanne Powers Matt BlascoUS editor global strategy officer MD, analyticsContagious Magazine Crispin, Porter + Bogusky Euro RSCG NYRichard Huntington Rory Sutherland Richard Notariannichief strategy officer former president executive directorSaatchi & Saatchi UK IPA Euro RSCG NY BIG QUAL
ATTENTION POETS:THERE’S NO OPT-OUT FROM BIG DATA
“This is a wholly artificial division that if we dontstop is going to get out of control.It will be a disaster for strategic planning inparticular:allowing some planners to exempt themselves fromthe data they cant be bothered to investigate,and allowing other people to think that they are astrategist though they havent a brand strategy orcreative bone in their body.” Richard Huntington, Saatchi & Saatchi
ONCE UPON A TIME, POETS ANDQUANTS LIVED IN HARMONY
"The account planner is thatmember of the agencys teamwho is the expert at working withinformation and getting it used -not just marketing research but allthe information available to helpsolve the clients advertisingproblems.” Stanley Pollitt
THE MORE THE INDUSTRYSEPARATES DATA FROMCREATIVE DEVELOPMENT THE LESS OPPORTUNITY THEY HAVE TOINFLUENCE EACH OTHER
SPOTTING THE SHARED TRAJECTORY THEY’RE PURSUING THEIR GENERATION’S DISTINCT VERSION OF “THE GOOD LIFE” THEY’RE ALL DOING WELL AND LOOKING FOR RECOGNITION AND REWARD Rising Young Singles Established Gen X Super Elites Booming Boomers Active Seniors Families Drive new carsRely on mobile Expensive toys (sail Like driving luxury autostechnology Pay “anything” for tech boats, jet and buying antiques Strive to keep things they want ski, kayak, water simple and stayEat junk food but Active, fit, in-motion ski, snowboard,) healthyprefer gourmet Active, fit, playful Power boats, golf and Understand and value Super fit, high energyBuy same stuff as Buy stuff they see in gardens the idea of duty sports-peoplecelebrities shows and movies Like to look Dress conservatively Are the people you see inLike to make unique Like to stand out in a conservative and look and read the fine print moviesfashion statements crowd for style that stood test Can’t say no to their Like to do yoga and of time kidsLove shopping in new Love shopping for weight trainstores clothes Financially secure, time Good at managing Everything they wear is vs. Money their moneyGetting to top of their Money is the symbol of best qualitycareers success Crave recognition of their success
A CHANCE TO TAKE PART IN “THE TRANSFORMATION ECONOMY”
“Journalists need to treat data as acharacter in one of their news stories.Data‟s just a source. You need to knockon the door and ask the data if it has astory to tell.” Aron Pilhofer, New York Times