A view from Paul Frampton

Technology has improved our processes, but what about the killer insights?

There are waves of change all around us. The onslaught of new channels, techniques and platforms is overwhelming, and the need for greater technology engagement...

Marketing conversations are dominated by technical disciplines such as analytics, social and programmatic.

We can target people like never before, but we also have the opportunity to better understand human behaviour.

This is where those in the agency business differ to the management consultants, who exist to solve system or process challenges with an efficiency lens.

All too often, such consultants invariably ignore what is right for the customer – or, dare I call them, people.

Behind the programmatic engines propelling digital display today is human understanding at scale

Organisations are fantastic at dehumanising people. Businesses call them customers, while agencies prefer "consumers".

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are only five human need states: self-actualisation, esteem, belonging, safety and physiological. I would argue none of this has changed.

Technology and the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple may have enabled new ways for people to satisfy these needs, but they haven’t fundamentally changed how people are hardwired.

So why, then, has the industry become increasingly tactical? Why are we spending less time talking about what real people want?

Behind Facebook’s 28 million daily UK audience is the opportunity for insights as rich in goodies as Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Behind the programmatic engines propelling digital display today is human understanding at scale.

However, our industry remains stubbornly attached to focus groups or antiquated panel research. More time must be invested into new technology and how it can be smartly used to help planners truly understand why people do what they do and how to shift behaviour.

Great ad campaigns have always originated from a killer insight and sought to get people to "share". Social platforms have totally changed the game in this sense, offering measurable word of mouth at scale, yet only a minority have embraced it.

Marketing technology promised better efficiencies and has delivered in spades, but it feels as though we have let the race for incremental gains cloud the opportunity for the same technology to turn planning and insight generation on its head.

Let’s not forget why we chose to join an agency rather than a management consultancy.

Paul Frampton is the chief executive of Havas Media UK