This week, Ogilvy Labs announced it would start using Autograph, a technology that captures 5,500 data attributes about a consumer in 26 seconds, to deliver personalized content and brand experiences. That’s an exciting advancement for all marketers. We will have the ability to create true engagement with scale and precision never before possible.
Yet last month, business development firm RSW/US published a survey of marketing executives that all but predicted the dissolution of agencies because technology is moving too fast. The clear message: Consumers’ rising expectations for personalized brand experiences are sending quakes through agency land. Many of the RSW/US respondents see tech demands as a death spiral for their business, largely because their models still rely on national advertising to demographic targets.
It doesn’t have to be that way. It should be the opposite. In fact, 2014 can prove the dawn of agile, interactive marketing led by agencies focused on the systems of ongoing brand support.
Know and tell
The next golden age of agencies will grow out of data-telling.
The more we know about a person, the more we can deliver experiences that advance their lives. Data puts advertising on a concrete footing no creative director’s intuition can match, and it creates the basis for predictive marketing.
It isn’t about “big” or “small” data. It’s about the right data and the volume of available sources. Marketers now have the ability to know how customers are going to think, feel and act even before they know it themselves. Look at Amazon’s recent patent application for “anticipatory shipping.” The future is already here.
Creative needs to drive something much deeper than a singular experience that garners industry attention and awards. Creative needs to drive engagement in sequential context, customers that talk about your brand, share their experience, and in effect, become your most valuable sales force. The most creative act is activating the customer conversion chain.
Synthesize and systemize
You do that by providing utility and value.
Here’s the thing: You have to mine deep customer insights at the beginning of the process to know what is useful and valuable to the people who drive your business. Technology should function as an invisible enablement layer (think Wonder Woman’s invisible jet). Use it to construct a centralized intelligence engine of rules and knowledge of each customer relationship, including how the relationship has evolved over time.
It’s critical that this engine is not static. It should function as a feedback loop, with information constantly coming in from customer channels, allowing for the optimization of how, when and where brands tell their stories. That’s why agencies that have native technology capabilities are now moving to the front of the line.
Optimize and accelerate
There’s no reason any organization, big or small, can’t have numerous A/B tests running simultaneously across the country (or globe). Look at Netflix. They have mastered the art of A/B testing. Very simply, as that central engine receives more data and optimization, it’s like an IQ boost. Your messaging keeps getting smarter, more contextual and more relevant.
It’s time that we stop viewing technology and “big data” as the enemy, and embrace the source of insights that make this an exhilarating time to work in marketing. We’re on the verge of intelligence engines that create personalized brand experiences systematically, and in the process make marketing something of value to customers. All due to the power of this thing called data.