The Axis Of Marketing: Data + Content

Marketing today is radically different from the way it was just 10 years ago, because marketers today depend on two things that were never so important before: data and content.

The old-school marketer focused on two traditional axes: the media and the message.  In basic terms these refer to media buying and creative.  I come from a media background, so trust me when I say it’s painful that media has less importance in the world of today’s marketing.  What I’m observing is a sea change -- and if you can’t stay on pace with change, then you tend to get passed by.

The media business is shifting toward the ability to deliver an audience. Audiences are found through data: data based on demographics plus behaviors, which make up a profile.  Profiles can be used for targeting. 

You used to pick a media placement based on the composition of the audience, but that model has evolved.  Now we can slice and dice placements with audience targeting layered over the top, which virtually eliminates waste and ensures 100% efficiency. 



Of course I’m not saying it totally removes the media consideration.  There is still associative value in the location of the placement and the brand value of context, but contexts can shift and audience targeting becomes the primary consideration.

For proof of evolution, simply look at the world of media agencies, which have all established programmatic trading desks. These desks have quickly become profit centers for the holding companies that own them.  This shift has taken place in parallel with the ongoing drop in standard media commissions, which once were as high as 15% and now are routinely as low as 1%-2% of spend.  These rates are untenable, and agencies have had to shift their focus to make up for them. So trading desks are becoming more important, and programmatic expanding beyond display.

The other hallmark of old-school marketing was the “big idea”: the creative concept, which would be universally executed across every channel in unison, blanketing the target audience in a flurry of copy and images to sway them towards consideration and purchase.  Some brands still hit the occasional home run, but the norm has shifted to a creative concept personalized to a million targets. So the creative concept becomes more like a library of content and assets to choose from. 

While these shifts do not signal the death of creativity, it does portend the rise of a different kind of creative mind, one that can develop a theme and then apply that theme to multiple audiences simultaneously.   These are the creative minds who understand brand building across multi-tasked channels and the interplay of one audience to another. These minds were raised in social media and understand that your message is competing not only against for mindshare against your competitors’ messages, but also against messages posted by your audiences’ family and friends. In this world of clutter, marketing messages are intertwined with every other aspect of life, in many cases blurring the lines between them.  Still, clutter is an old-school concept; it’s more about multi-woven messaging, understanding the ways your target builds a point of view by digesting multiple sources of content in a non-linear manner. 

Data and content are the driving forces for marketers, and these are the components that will be required for them to be successful over the next 10 years. Is your team structured around these two concepts?  Is your agency equipped to handle them?  These are the questions you should be asking.

4 comments about "The Axis Of Marketing: Data + Content ".
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  1. Myles Gaythwaite from Gaythwaite, December 10, 2014 at 11:10 a.m.

    “Some brands still hit the occasional home run, but the norm has shifted to a creative concept personalized to a million targets. So the creative concept becomes more like a library of content and assets to choose from.”

    Truly. Brands need a “creative strategy” now more than ever. Not just who we are and what we do - but what’s our viewpoint for coming up with ideas.

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, December 10, 2014 at 11:17 a.m.

    On the money but take your view one step further. Technology and innovation typically deliver more for less $$$. In this case more audience for less $$$ versus linear TV ad buys where the past two decades have shown buying less audience for more $$$, and the incremental reach is very expensive. The question is where is the inflection point where linear TV audience growth drops off becomes secular than cyclical?

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 11, 2014 at 8:21 a.m.

    When we speak on the improved targeting capability of today versus yesterday and the total elimination of "waste" I assume that we are speaking of online or digital buys, not TV, radio or print media. Even then, is it really true that digital buys give you 100% access exclusively to your target audience without waste? As for the agencies turning to programmatic buying as a way to recoup lost commission percentages, is it really true that a typical agency fee for handling an account, including account work and creative, is 1-2%? That figure is closer to what a an agency media buying conglomerate would charge other agencies for handling agency-of-record assignments for national TV buys, while standard fees for more labor intensive media buys---like spot TV--- might be double that. However, these are media buying/servicing fees. What does an agency typically charge for all of the other things it does for a client?

  4. Serena Ehrlich from Business Wire, December 15, 2014 at 12:32 p.m.

    This is great information, but I still wish we could include content distribution in these discussions. Once a company uses their data to create highly actionable pieces of content many simply believe users will flock to them. They forget they have to put money and strategy behind the distribution of this content.

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