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Two sides of the same story – by DMS’s Sally Makarem

DMS’s Sally Makarem looks at how data and creativity are inextricably woven together

By Sally Makarem, managing director, DMS, UAE

Data and creativity are often viewed as opposites; even biologically they stem from different sides of the brain, while complementing each other perfectly. Some of the best works this year were created by data-inspired creativity rather than data versus creativity. Examining these two in silos limits their function. With the rise of digital, there is an enhanced need for real-time signals to accommodate rapid changes in consumer behaviour. The ability to use clean data in the right context enables marketers to connect better with their consumers and create brand connectivity as well as longer-term relationships. In my day-to-day work routine, I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with leading pan-Arab publishers across different verticals. With the right technology setup, we sit on a wealth of publisher first-party data, with which we are able to innovate and create great work with brands, while measuring impact through our bespoke services. More and more, publishers today are evolving into ‘brands’, mastering the social space and branching into virtual and on-ground experiences. Tapping into the publisher communities helps brands to participate in what people are interested in, rather than telling people what to be interested in. 

With the year coming to an end, let’s look back at three examples where creativity and data delivered on precision, differentiation and experiences, with brands leveraging the DMS portfolio of premium publishers.

Creativity & data for precision marketing 

Imagine having the ability to respond to customer interests in real-time and in ways your consumer base can relate to. We partnered with Al Futtaim on their Land Cruiser 300 launch campaign to deliver on precision marketing with wider, more relevant reach. We utilised Zero Party Data, a survey-based pop-up that enables user targeting based on declared answers, with an aim to help reach users with intentions to buy a new car within the required price range and type over the next two years. Based on their personas and interests, we were able to help customise the creative to drive higher consideration and impact. The interesting part was that we helped Toyota expand their audiences and discover high-value prospects beyond what they defined as core consumers. We witnessed an increase of 39 per cent in ad recall and 36 per cent uplift in brand favourability. 

Creativity & data to create differentiation 

Differentiation is about creating original content with brands that deepens the relationship with their audience. It’s about partnering to create a trend rather than following what others are doing. One of the best campaigns that we worked on had to be the Koooraverse activation. Kooora reaches about 27 million users during the football season, which makes it the largest destination for sports. I know that many marketers are sceptical about the metaverse today, but it is something that brands need to be aware of as it continues to grow. Bloomberg Intelligence expects the market opportunity for the metaverse to reach $800bn by 2024. (This includes VR and AR.) 

As an important year for football, a sport the region is highly passionate about, we created a Koooraverse, a virtual football stadium in the metaverse where our partners could participate in an immersive experience. Fifty football fans, including key influencers, were selected through a trivia competition on
Kooora.com and were given the chance to virtually come face-to-face with their favourite KSA football stars and engage in a Q&A session. We looked at publisher data to identify topics and top players that audiences most engaged with to drive the right conversation during the sessions, as moderated by Kooora’s top hosts. This innovative and creatively charged concept was the first-of-its-kind in the region and the engagement to date has exceeded expectations. The campaign is mid-flight, so I hope I have enticed you enough to check out the case study once the campaign ends.

Creativity & data to drive experiences 

This year, Anghami expanded beyond streaming to become a media entertainment company. They have ventured into podcasts, music festivals, music creation and owning a physical space in KSA to harness and promote talent from this region. Entertaining more than 18 million users monthly in MENA, they have the data to ensure high relevancy and accuracy in driving experiences through any audible format. This year, during the hottest month of the year, August, Anghami created a music festival in the UAE called ‘Beat the Heat’. In total there were six concerts, with around 1,500 attendees each night. Anghami tapped into their online data to identify the genres and artists with the highest listenership to drive their on-ground experience. By leveraging the fandom of their users, brands can create deeper associations within the music scene and deliver a customised experience to Anghami’s audience. Understanding the preferences of their local audience, and merging them with the right creative and targeting, helped ensure the right footfall to the venue and drive the success of the concert series. 

To summarise, the biggest battle for marketers today is centred around grabbing users’ attention. Data-inspired creativity helps drive the precision, differentiation and experience to capture attention. As illustrated through the examples I have shared, there are many ways that marketers can choose to partner with publishers and platforms to drive the right marketing outcomes and create meaningful connections with their consumers.