Lessons in data-driven marketing from Formula 1 driver David Coulthard

What does former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard have in common with modern marketers? A career in which data has completely changed the game.

David Coulthard draws parallels between data use in Formula 1 and marketing
David Coulthard draws parallels between data use in Formula 1 and marketing

As part of data business Quantcast’s talk at Cannes Lions this year, David Coulthard joined founder Konrad Feldman on stage to discuss how to leverage an industry that has been completely disrupted by an influx of data points.

There are definite parallels between marketing and Formula 1's journeys. Coulthard said that during his career, the amount of data collected within the Formula 1 cars had increased significantly.

"In the early days it was basic diagnostics for engine performance, any of that information could have been physically downloaded when you stopped at the garage," he said.

"Fast forward to where we are today and that information comes through hundreds of sensors, monitoring anything from tyre pressures, suspension and even the drivers core temperature by swallowing a sensor to see the effects of dehydration," he added.

He also discussed increasing regulation within the sport, which is in place to increase the ability for smaller teams with smaller budgets to compete against the big teams that have huge amounts to spend on the latest technology.

This is where the Formula 1 and marketing analogy ended for Coulthard. He cited the technology advances for daily items such as mobile phones, pointing out that it’s not in anyone's interest to regulate the rate of innovation in the same way as Formula 1 vehicles.

He said: "It takes away the feeling of it being the best ever period. Right now we’re recording this on a phone that was better than it was a year ago and no one has said, you’re not allowed this much storage capacity.

"In Formula 1 the cars are not as fast as they were a few years ago, which is a bit frustrating for the drivers."

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