Aggregating multiple sources and tracking more behavioural data than ever gives us a supposedly complete picture of our communications.
Data insight promises to make us better targeted, optimised, efficient and effective.
That’s all well and good but it’s not how much data you have, it’s what you do with it that matters.
Collected, managed and interpreted well, data is, of course, an incredibly valuable resource and input into communications planning.
We would, however, be missing an important trick if we lost sight of the need to balance that with interpretation, instinct and creativity.
Ultimately, consumer data is still ‘their’ data and if you’re going to use it for marketing purposes, you had better make sure you’re adding value to the consumer in some way.
Merely honing the old ‘push’ model of advertising with data doesn’t match the new reality of consumer empowerment.
A new model emerged in 2011: ‘pull’ data communications - customer data creatively reinterpreted as a utility to others.
This isn’t entirely new of course. FAQs and Amazon’s "people who bought this..." algorithm proved that people find other customers’ activity useful.
However, the idea that technology can now make data itself the draw to deeper engagement with marketing communications came of age in 2011.
Brands showed us how creatively leveraging data can be highly effective and more important than the information itself.
Real-time participation data creates congregation points for brands and deeper relationships with consumers: Heineken’s Star Player app enhanced the football viewing experience with match data.
In the UK Orange customers voted in the Bafta film awards using the Flick-o-meter, a data visualisation tool that displayed the support for nominees in real-time.
And, globally, Footlocker created ‘Sneakerpedia’, a fan-driven database of ‘every’ sneaker ever bought and loved by their owners.
We’re accessing more personal realms of data, too. Nike+ and Adidas MiCoach provide feedback on fitness, and motivation to keep trying harder (and a whole sector of health related apps really took a hold in 2011 generally - from Pain Free Back, to Digifit and LifeLens).
All of these are reliant on - and built on top of - data, but all work because they are based on creativity and adding value to consumers.
Data as an input to improve targeting and measurement of advertising is one thing, but using it to inform communications planning, creativity and creating value is where it gets exciting.
James Caig, deputy head of strategy, MEC United Kingdom
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com