Ahead of the curve: how to plan for the unpredictability of real-time moments
A view from Ryan Miller

Ahead of the curve: how to plan for the unpredictability of real-time moments

Instead of having to react to moments and force ourselves into conversation, we can develop a strategy ahead of time, says Droga5's data strategy director.

When we think of real-time marketing, we tend to pull up examples that are reactive and rooted in social media. Chief among these are Oreo at the Super Bowl, Arby’s at the Grammys and a handful of others. While marketers and executives may hold these moments up as the gold standard for the ways they made it possible for brands to insert themselves into the cultural lexicon and gain mass exposure, they’re not a sustainable way to drive business performance. In fact, we’re most often exposed to brands trying to force themselves into conversations that may not allude to their brand goals or attempting to latch onto some major cultural moment just to get a sliver of exposure.

However, instead of having to react to moments and force ourselves into conversation, we can develop a strategy and plan for real-time moments ahead of time—so we can not just be a part of others’ moments but create new moments or own the conversation around existing ones.

Using tools like social listening, among others, to weave data into every aspect of an initiative can help brands be proactive and uncover insights that lead to truly impactful moments. Not only can it help with moments themselves, but the right data can influence brand and communication strategy, the creative development and the production processes around them to make moments influential and push business goals forward.

And it all starts with a simple process that can help you identify, evaluate and develop real-time moments specific to your brand and marketing objectives.

Plan against a purpose.
It starts with an objective or purpose: What are you trying to achieve or learn with this? How will this move business forward? Using a specific objective as a guide will give you a base on which to build throughout the process.

Identify the right moments.
Build a system that leverages different data types to identify the right moments for your purpose and objective. Different moments lend themselves better to different objectives, and it’s crucial to be able to parse out these nuances. 

Evaluate and score the moments.
Rooting your identified moments in data will further strengthen the evaluation process. Whether it’s emphasizing one or two metrics or creating a composite score, being able to evaluate your moments will ensure you’re executing against those that will have the most impact.

Apply the brand lens.
Put your possible moments into the context of your brand. This will only serve to sharpen your initiatives, as different moments lend themselves better to brand partnerships, values, creative ideas and other factors. 

It’s never an easy thing to build off real-time moments, due to their unpredictability. But with the right tools and a system in place, those risks can be dramatically mitigated. Additionally, planning and strategizing ahead for these moments only improves your ability to identify and evaluate the right moments—those that a brand should be associating with and can generate the greatest returns from. 

As more data and new tools become available, our capabilities to find these moments and turn them into impactful business offerings for brands will only be further strengthened. The challenge of making sense of these new infusions and how they can unlock marketing opportunities is one that we relish. 

Ryan Miller is Data Strategy Director at Droga5.