At DMA 2013: 'Mad Men' vs. 'Math Men'

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Chicago—Marketing creatives and their data scientist colleagues had a meeting of the minds today at the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference and expo here. A panel representing the two groups discussed the tension that exists between them and agreed that coordinating their talents would pay off in better-performing campaigns. “There is a tension between the "Mad Men' and the "Math Men'; both camps have a passion about the customer but have different approaches,” said Doug Bryan, principal sales engineer at marketing personalization company RichRelevance Inc. “The challenge of marketing managers is to manage that tension,” Bryan said during the DMA session, “Mad Men+Data Specialists: When Two Worlds Collide.” “Yes, there will be screaming and finger-pointing; don't worry about this. Our job is to harvest that tension for the sake of the campaign.” The question of which specialty has priority received differing responses. “The role of the technology marketer is to validate whatever is possible with the campaign, but the purpose and general strategy of the campaign isn't his responsibility,” said panelist Michael Schaffer, principal at Technology Consulting Services. “I'm looking to the creative guy to lead.” Where technologies have value upfront is in helping creative specialists to focus their ideas, said Michael Miller, CMO, Epsilon Agency Services. “There are thousands of ideas; it is the technologist's role to narrow the concepts of the creative,” he said. “Today the big ideas follow the data.” Data scientists are having a significant impact on metrics, the panelists agreed. In particular their role is altering the definition of campaign return on investment. “ROI is a dated term,” Miller said. “Return on equity is a better metric, measuring a campaign's impact on brand plus the company's short-term business values, such as how the stock has responded to that in alignment with the campaign.” Bryan suggested a different approach. “The curse of digital marketing is that it's measureable,” he said. “We tend to make up measurements like crazy, and most aren't useful. For me, ROI means three things: brand favorables, brand considerations like page views or Facebook visits, and revenue. “The hard part to figure out is the incremental sale, whether the customer actually was influenced by the campaign or would have bought anyway,” he said.
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