That was the key conclusion from the event that was hosted by Havas helia on the 16th April. At the event there was a blend of innovative data, analysis techniques and creative output as marketers, advertisers and creatives came together to hear different views, try new experiences and get inspired.

Of course, discussions on data are standard fare now, and the use of data in creativity is also becoming a theme so rather than repeating points that are becoming commonplace, I want to touch on some of the more interesting points brought up during the kick-off panel.

The panel was moderated by Maisie McCabe from Campaign Magazine, it included myself, Lucy Aitken from Contagious, Neil Firth from the MoD, Nigel Walsh and Steve Jones from CapGemini, and Rachel Clarke from Havas. It was a good mix – especially with Neil giving his MoD view and there were several good questions from the audience.

Panels can be tricky as you need to prepare to some degree, but I’m not a big believer in over-thinking it. It’s more fun and interesting to just say what you think. The following were the three areas I managed to string some cogent thoughts on:

  1. The 10% more knowledge rule
    The 10% rule essentially means that if you know just 10% more than your client then you can present yourself as a guru. This rule only applies to a few agencies that we have come across, but coming from a ‘pure’ data background, specifically in language analytics, we were surprised by the large amount of variance in skill and knowledge of agencies professing to be ‘data literate.’
    The rule works because the client won’t know that you only know a bit more and as long as you can keep that little bit ahead, you can win business. Of course, knowing 10% more than your client doesn’t make you an expert unless your client already is very knowledgeable on the topic. Agencies who claim to be data driven on shaky foundations are disingenuous at best.
  2. Programmatic buying won’t crush creativity
    One of the questions was about the rise of programmatic buying and if it will erode creativity. I don’t think this is the case, although we will have to rethink how ads are created. Programmatic buying is not going away – I believe we are at the beginning of the beginning and it will provide great opportunities for creativity as it evolves.
    A key part of the programmatic process is data on the consumer and the context of the ad. The layers of data are only going to increase. We are already working on projects where understanding the linguistic style of the user and the site can be fed into ad selection. What would the creative outputs be if you knew that you can use ads with different language about the same theme, selected to best resonate with the target consumer?
  3. The seduction of data that is easy to get
    The most important data can be the data which is hard to get, but there is increasing pressure on all roles in organisations to be data led and so there is a growing demand for easy data. There are usually two implicit questions when it comes to using data for business;
    – How easy is the data to get?
    – How easy is the data to analyse properly?
    It’s very, very easy to end up basing your business decisions on data which is easy to get and easy to analyse (think number of ‘shares’ on social media – people love to share bad news). It’s understandable. People have pressure on them to be ‘data led’ and so they need data to process quickly. However, it is rare that easy-to-get and easy-to-process data is what you want to base decisions on. Management has to understand how to look at data critically, and with context, and then make sure teams are getting the right data and applying the right analysis.

I should disclose that we work closely with Havas helia. The team has access to our language analysis platform and is regularly running their own comparisons to gain insight from language data. We still work with them on some projects with its clients, but the team is very data savvy; which is why it organised in the first place. If you are interested in reading more about the event, Ben Silcox from Havas wrote a great piece in the Guardian – you can read it here.

By Ben Hookway