DMA 2013: Exploiting the tension between creativity and data


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Discussions of data analysis were common throughout the DMA conference. The consensus at a concluding session on marketing trends: Digital and Big Data advances create new marketing opportunities, but they also create challenges in developing compelling, precise messages. The solution, panelists agreed, is that data works best in focusing big ideas toward messages that are more appropriate to discrete segments, leading to greater relevance and faster conversions. “The challenge is one of changing the corporate culture to shift from focusing on that one big idea to using data to make decisions that often contradict what your own expertise is telling you,” said panelist Omar Tawako, CEO of data management company Blue Kai. With this shift in focus, Tawako said, marketers can “customize the big themes with every piece of data they know. That's an exciting new skill set.” Panelists agreed that data plus digital is creating new opportunities for “omnichannel” marketing, including the ability to personalize messages for different channels and various devices. “Mobile has become more important, but it's not killing desktops and laptops,” said Tim Reis, head of mobile and social solutions Americas at Google Inc. “TV didn't kill radio but gave it a different role. I still believe in print and TV, and the good news is that all this available data is making it easier for marketers to understand how each element contributes.” While data is driving many marketing decisions today, panelists expressed concern with its accuracy. “First-party data is gold,” Tawako said. “Everyone needs to master the use of their own data first, then use taxonomy to know what they're missing and fill in the holes with third-party data.” But third-party data has its own holes, Tawako said. “You need to benchmark various data sources against each other, building techniques to live with a noisy data world,” he said. Reis made the case for behavioral data's role in augmenting other sources of information. “It's about getting into the slipstream of the actual activities of customers as opposed to just standing outside the data and making a declaration, which inherently will be flawed,” he said.

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