Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA Viewpoints: In the pursuit of performance has marketing lost its personality?

By Sarah Parsonage, Founder, One Question

On 28 October, One Question hosts its second debate distilling the one question format into one industry and answering one big question from the perspectives of many.

Go to a talk from anyone from a large agency these days and you will receive one of two messages. The first is that the agency needs to “be digital” as quickly as possible because consumer attitudes and habits are changing and they need to be measured. The second is to question why the sector is becoming more emotionless because of analytics.

Both the first and second message can be true at the same time.

Marketing doesn’t have to be always numbers focussed to be successful. Indeed, it might simply boil down to what happens and when. If there is a significant statistical analysis prior to the development of the campaign creative, then it might turn the campaign into something rather dull and narrow, as it aims to exclusively appeal to a particular market.

However, there are also many digital-first campaigns which have tremendous heart and soul put into them and touch a nerve in a way that ‘traditional’ marketing could never have achieved alone.

Of course, there is a proverb which we can apply here, about the ‘cost of something and the value of nothing’. One of these things is instantly measurable, and the other isn’t. Analytics can show us the end-to-end costs – from the creation of product and campaign, right through to purchase and use.

Value is much more emotional, more resonant; it is the ‘pull’, the reason why a given entity exists or must exist, in our lives. We have, as people, ‘values’ which we consider to be enduring, even when our ‘costs’ – salary, food, transport and so on – fluctuate wildly.

In other words, whilst agencies can live in a world which is driven by tangible costs or intangible values, one simply can’t exist without the other, and the best agencies employ people whose task is really to manage that coexistence.

Overall, as we move into big data, we are still really scratching the surface of what analytics can do – and with AI, what decisions data can help us to make. But, while there is a place for analytics, a place for AI; there is equally a place for pure emotional creativity and engagement.

Perhaps if we simply worked with what we have, knowing when to use the head and when to use the heart, we can move marketing on.

The One Question format challenges the way we think in a live audience 90-minute debate featuring Martin Wiegel of advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy; Gianluca Carerra, CSO at dunnhumby; Colonel Nick Mackenzie of the British Army, responsible for its 2019 advertising campaign; Ben Hawley, Marketing Director of CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably); and Anjali Puri, Global Director, Qualitative Offer and Expertise, Kantar, Insights Division.

To find out more and reserve your place click here.

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