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Marketing Futurist: A Superhero Who Juggles Data Analysis, Behavioral Sciences & Creativity

Marketing Futurist: A Superhero Who Juggles Data Analysis, Behavioral Sciences & Creativity

marketing futurist

An advertising creative head, a behavioural scientist and a data analyst walk into a bar…


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Jokes of this kind might no longer be relevant or spoken about by today’s standup comedians. Why? Because all three of the above ‘roles’ have now merged into a single one. 

The Marketing Futurist, a superhero you didn’t know about. 

Yeah. I know what you are thinking. Data Analyst? Behaviour science? and a Creative Head? All rolled into one brain? Gods come alive, I would love to see the neural activity map of that guy. Because technically, both the right and the left side of his brain will be on fire. Maybe, these Marketing Futurists have a shorter than average lifespan because of neural synapses shorting faster than usual? [That deserves a story for later!]

But for now – we have come to accept the reality that data is the new fuel that is firing up enterprises everywhere in this information economy value. And the advertising industry is not a stranger to this deluge that has taken over. In fact, the story of big data success is tied very closely with the evolution of the ad industry itself. We have obviously come a long way from the heydays of sales agents haggling for real-estate on the large internet publishers in-person to now the magic of RTB (Real-Time Bidding using artificial intelligence) and programmatic buying of digital media space that happens faster than the time taken for even webpage to load up. 

“40% of the success [of a direct campaign] will be attributable to the targeting. Maybe 20% to the creative. (These are merely averages—a really clever creative insight can have a huge effect.) And there was always this 30% which was ‘something else,’ it wasn’t the targeting and it wasn’t creative.”

Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman Ogilvy UK. Rory surmised very cleverly that this ‘something else’ is actually behavioural science which has gained prominence in this Kahneman-Ariely era.

And yet, it is still mind-boggling to assume that the creative process for ads (usually behind-locked-doors, furious marathon brainstorming sessions fueled by caffeine, cigarettes and confusion) can actually be done in a lot more data-driven and ‘logical’ fashion. Creativity by Analytics is possibly an oxymoron but we now know that it only applies for the ad-men of the last era. Because today, no process is complete without being guided by data. Today’s CMO owns the overall customer experience and the brand resonance but it’s a tough job that he straddles. Because of liquid customer demands in an era where loyalty is probably dead and digitally native start-ups continuously disrupt and challenge the status-quo, marketing (and consequently advertising!) has to evolve from being static product-centric to being “relevant at the moment”. Data and behavioural science is what would feed this new revolution. 

Maybe we can call this Prescient Advertising for now, eh. 

Let’s take a few examples of how data and creativity have worked well together. 

Personalization: One of the recent examples for this is Spotify’s entry into the Indian market. Spotify’s tag line as they launched in India, was ‘There is a playlist for that’ focused on different situations. Now, this was a direct fallout from the millions they initially invested in their data science teams and continuously improving on their personalization algorithms which sync real-time, changing music-streams based on the ‘like’ buttons. Apparently, this whole campaign was a result of three separate activities. Social listening based on geography, sentiment analysis and finally recommendations engine. 

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Ensuring Influencer marketing done right: Today’s consumers are hard nuts to crack and with Instagram and other social platforms gaining importance in the overall purchasing funnel, influencer marketing possibly could a critical tactic to drives consideration and purchase. So, ad-makers targeting Instagram with such influencers endorsing their brands are laughing all the way to the banks. But there is enough and more instances where this money being thrown into a black hole without much results. Can we predict the impact of such influencers on brand resonance? Data could help! Chtrbox is a startup in this space that helps enterprises quantify more than 7-8 parameters (relevance, reach, authenticity, mix optimization etc) to measure and predict influencer marketing effectiveness. 

Identity, Insights and Intelligence using DMP: Data Management Platforms (DMP) have become a critical component of all marketing technology stack for advertisers/marketers. Starting from identifying (unique marker for individual customers across devices/geography or channel) to generating insights from analytics/machine learning till ensuring intelligent orchestration (using the right channel, right moment with the right product for the customer) There are variations of DMP today in action (Like CDP’s Customer Data Platforms focused on creating 360-view of the Customer Segments/cohorts in real-time or near real-time) but DMP’s remain an excellent case in point of data influencing advertising decisions. 

It’s clear that in today’s age [Accenture terms this to be a post-digital era] the data deluge needs to be managed (“captured, curated and consumed”) converting it to gold nuggets to lead to high growth. Advertising as a function can utilize data platforms to run informed highly relevant campaigns, expanding the overall creative canvas and also making it a lot more competitive. 

Stands to reason that apart from savings on all the caffeine and cigarettes, bringing data into the brainstorming sessions will take out the big C (Confusion) from the whole process because of a high degree of objectivity and transparency. After all, machines cannot lie. And thus, are best suited to deal with the scale and pace of the big data that defines this industry. And Lo! Behold. A new superhero is born – The Marketing Futurist who successfully juggles the roles between a creative head, a database marketer and even brings in his behavioural science knowledge to successful target and convert prospects into buyers/customers. 

Post Script: I know that tiny worm at the back of your mind still cannot fathom this: How can the machines running on rational numerical and spreadsheet + Python driven logic beat the frenetic, creative, and emotionally driven psychological ideas?

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