Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Data, AI and digital creative: the best threesome you’ll see this year

By Lars Lehne, Global CEO, Incubeta

2023 was something of a mixed bag for marketers. On the one hand, geopolitical uncertainty, privacy concerns, rising inflation and the unwavering threat of recession  turned the marketing landscape into a chaotic minefield with little to no signposting. On the other hand, the political and economic turbulence, though an unstable time for brands, helped fast-track the prominence of digital positioning and presented us with a landscape full of possibilities. 

It was  a real rollercoaster. 

Now, as the second month of 2024 comes to a close, we find ourselves faced with a number of new challenges. The rise of generative AI in mainstream media, for example, has put pressure on many to embrace the technology, without giving them a chance to fully understand it first. The shifting tide of privacy means marketers must develop new strategies to further the use cases of their data. And the sunsetting of Universal Analytics has added the additional challenge of, well, Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

That’s not to say the challenges from last year have dissipated either. Rather, these new hurdles have just been stacked on top. Fortunately though, while chaos and uncertainty are still rife, there is also a great deal of opportunity to be found in 2024. 

A focus on advanced data use cases 

Now more than ever we need to focus our attention on smart data use cases and putting new, privacy-centric data infrastructures in place that still allow brands and retailers to get the most out of the information they collect. GA4 offers a host of new features and benefits, such as BigQuery integration, cross-platform reporting and adjustable privacy features, that can assist marketers in preparing future ready data strategies. 

As GA4 continues to develop, and we gain more experience in using this new tool, we’ll start to see the benefits of its flexibility and integration capabilities, as well as its enhanced customization features – leading to more refined customer segmentation and cross-channel attribution, alongside enhanced trust and engagement from consumers thanks to the focus on privacy. 

The importance of strong creative 

The rapid evolution of digital marketing technologies over the last decade forced the creative element of campaign planning to take a bit of a backseat. Our attention was drawn to these flashy new tools and the role that technology could play in optimizing our campaigns.

Recently, however, there has been something of a creative resurgence, and it looks as though creativity is becoming more of a focus once again – helping us reconnect with our audience on an emotional level and stand out in an increasingly crowded digital space. 

That’s not to say technology and data have become any less important. On the contrary, it’s the combination of the creative with the technical that will develop the most effective, personalized campaigns. 

As we continue into the future, the blending of creative and technological domains will only increase, allowing us to further tailor campaigns for individual audience groups and create ever more relevant, impactful and memorable experiences. 

Intelligently using artificial intelligence 

Although AI isn’t a new technology, it’s seen some considerable leaps forward over the last year or so, especially in the realm of generative AI. This, however, led to it quickly dominating the media, causing many of us to throw it into our operations in a hurry, without taking the time to really figure out what risks and benefits it will provide. 

The thing is, generative AI has the potential to provide immense benefits. But it also comes with a considerable amount of risk. To get the most out of this incredible technology, we need to take a step back and evaluate how and where we are going to use it. 

Taking the time to build out intelligent AI strategies, fueled by the right data and vigorous testing, will help set us up for success – and reduce the risk of improper AI usage coming back to haunt us later down the line. 

The future marketing ménage à trois 

You can always find opportunity in chaos. Just ask Sun-Tzu. Or Little Finger. And with 2023 proving to be more chaotic than many years (excluding the utter bedlam that was 2020), it also means that we’ve been presented with a wealth of opportunity. 

While the constant evolution of the digital landscape – alongside the external pressures of geopolitical shifts and economic dynamics – has been challenging, it’s also been transformational. And as 2024 continues to unfold, we have more tools at our disposal than ever before, all offering immense promise.

The key to reaping the benefits of these tools, however, lies in the approach. We need to introduce them carefully and strategically. To do so, it’s imperative to re-evaluate how we do things, leveraging advanced data use cases, prioritizing strong creative, and employing AI thoughtfully and effectively. 

Though the pace of change may be dizzying for some, for those of us willing to learn, adapt and think critically about what is right for our brands, 2024 will be an exciting year of growth and development. 

Opinion

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