Data Overloaded – by VMLY&R MENA’s Louise Blake

As we start another year full of promise, we have Chat GPT as the new hot topic, computers taking over the world and more brands calling for data-informed creativity, writes VMLY&R MENA’s Louise Blake

As we start another year full of promise, we have Chat GPT as the new hot topic, computers taking over the world and more brands calling for data-informed creativity. There are endless possibilities of how we can go about collecting, analysing, and importantly inspiring creativity with data, yet 95 per cent of people are still more comfortable using Excel tables, some people are still even more comfortable using calculators. But does having access to advanced technology automatically make us all data wizards, or does it just cloud the water even more? 

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Having worked in the data field my entire career, I’m fascinated by the adoption rate of the latest fads, but even more so when companies go back to basics and really dig into what data technologies and mindsets will really help to drive their business forward, and where do they start? 

So, what will 2023 bring? Here are five things the data has led me to believe. 

Data is no longer a dirty word among creatives, the left and the right side of the brain are starting to see the benefits of working together. Over the past few years, there have been great examples of data being used creatively. The 2018 Spotify campaign always sticks in my mind, large billboards with simple text such as ‘ Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?’. People are naturally inquisitive, and numbers presented right can be the basis of a powerful campaign. How much of a talking point would it be if Deliveroo created a campaign around different areas and their favourite takeaways? Who wouldn’t like to know if you live on Acai Avenue or Subway Street?

It works both ways, data can help provide insights and inform strategy but being creative with the questions asked from data is just as powerful. 

We will see a rise in the squad-like approach. Campaigns and activations will be more effective by creating squads of people from each specialism coming together to work on a concept rather than the traditional process flow approach, handoff between strategy, creative, marketing and measurement, with a wide gap between the strategist and the executioners

3 Have increased digital privacy capabilities put a nail in the coffin for hyper-personalisation? Users are valuing privacy over user experience, we see exponential growth in anonymous browsing and users are choosing not to share their digital activities with organisations and reducing the ability to target users based on their specific clicks. Is that always a bad thing? As a data professional, I’ve always been in two minds about personalisation – are we clipping the wings of users for wider discovery? Personalisation done well can add incremental dollars to the bottom line, however, many companies spend vast amounts of money and resource trying to get there. Unfortunately the only thing they gain is endless hours in data science resources with a poor measurement strategy in place to be able to measure it works. A fresh approach is welcomed, without the data signals captured, it’s back to being creative about what you really know about your customer and most importantly, how you can use this information to provide your customers with the optimum experience and effectively inform business decision-making.

4 This leads nicely to my next prediction – a scaled-down approach to measurement. How many of you have seen line after line of KPIs that describe what a campaign has achieved, an endless number of likes, shares, and comments, without targets and benchmarks. I predict this year we will see more companies reporting less but reporting better. The importance of setting out what success looks like from the start; each metric should have an owner who is accountable for acting if the metric falls short. 

5 And finally, I predict the rise of the super analyst. We have seen many companies build vast data teams with hordes of data analysts, data scientists, data product managers, business analysts, digital analysts etc. I predict companies will only succeed in their data journey if they work on embedding the skills within each employee. Let’s see fewer analytics resources being spent building pivot tables and *SELECT ALL* from a database and spend more time with analysts focused on training, asking the right questions and empowering all to think with a data mindset. 

The use of data has come a long way, from the abacus to Chat GPT, and can be used in so many ways to inform a creative brief or operating decision. Data should no longer be the afterthought, a tick box exercise, or content for management or client PowerPoint. It should be integral to the business, brand, and creative process to ensure the output is set to achieve the real results clients want to see. It’s great that the spotlight is on data but let’s talk less and do more!