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Data drives marketing creativity: Advertising Club panel

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The value of customer data is increasing as agencies tailor creative to take full advantage of the information, panelists at the Advertising Club's January 20 Great Debate said. The challenge for marketers, however, is getting that information from consumers while assuaging privacy concerns.

“Not being creepy is a good rule,” said Ty Montague, chief creative officer and co-president of JWT, referencing an Interactive Advertising Bureau campaign. “Think about what kind of information you would want about yourself out in the world and how you would want it to be used. It's a bit of an art to turn data into stuff that people in my world can use.”

Educating consumers on how data informs marketing to make it more relevant is paramount, said Daryl Evans, VP of advertising and marketing communications at AT&T. Big brands shouldn't be afraid to use that position to discuss with customers what they want in exchange for data, he said.

“The greater insights, the more relevant the communication,” Evans explained. “Consumers should have a choice as to what they want to consume. The best brands — the ones people think are the coolest — drive better insights.”

AT&T learned from its experience with Yellow Pages, added Frank Jules, president and CEO of AT&T Advertising Solutions. The company decided to ask people if they wanted and would use Yellow Pages rather than just sending the books out and risk wasting resources, he said.

“We thought, ‘We may not like the answer, but we should ask,'” Jules said. “Lo and behold, more people wanted extra [books] than didn't want them. We were able to then find the demographics of that audience and give it to our advertisers.”

That kind of insight, which allows sharper targeting, is very important to marketers as they try to reach diverse consumers, the industry experts said.

“With the grater understanding we have, we need to think about content and strategies,” said Lisa Donahue, CEO of Starcom US. “Data will help us segment the audience better; so we don't have to find the big barrier to purchase — have to find the different barriers for different people.”

That's why it's so important to bring data to the table along with creativity and get both to work in concert to create the best message, added Laura Lang, CEO of Digitas.

“Because the customer's changing so fast, creativity is going to be changing along with it,” she explained. “Data helps us create content that reached people with the right message at the right time.”

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