Data rules

The smart use of data is enabling optimised creative campaigns that will change the nature of the agency and client relationship.

The integration debate in our minds is about how data and technology provide an even more relevant customer experience in the multichannel world.

Achieving "high creativity" means technology and data intersect to create predictable and engaging outcomes.

The world of communication is evolving at a pace few can keep up with. Premium traditional advertising alone used to be the modus operandi for creating effective consumer impressions. Some agencies still insist on practising this archaic approach.

Today's consumers are empowered and demanding, and the emergence and penetration of broadband, smartphones and tablets has created complex customer journeys, as well as significant opportunities.

Before diving into how agencies should react to this challenge, we need to understand more about the profound changes that consumers are leading.

McKinsey recently attempted to quantify the internet as an industry. It estimated it to be a 200 million-person, £5.5 trillion global economy, now larger than many countries' GDP.

Consumers today play multiple roles. They are content creators, they are producers and they are influencers, engaging with brands across multiple channels.

Technology and social platforms have enabled consumers to network with connections anywhere, anytime, truly leveraging the power of collective knowledge. Thus, consumer touchpoints are diverse and complex, yet individual.

We would all bet our houses on still more innovations coming down the pipeline that will make it even more challenging for brands to engage with consumers. Brands and their agencies must understand consumer intent, as good creative advertising alone is not sufficient to sell product.

Brands need to communicate by understanding and engaging as part of an overarching dialogue. We have to understand consumers and they like to be heard.

The golden age of the 30-second TV spot has given way to messages carefully crafted for an audience of one. Advertising talks back and marketers know more about us, where we are, what we believe and who we talk to than even our closest friends.

From an agency perspective, we see fragmentation created by fractured audiences. Siloed creative, technology and data agencies are trying to capture consumer attention. This has led to inefficiencies and less than optimal results. When you factor in imperfect analytics to the mix, the result can be unpredictable outcomes and expensive distribution.

So, on this basis, we aim to answer the following questions: how do we align and innovate with today's consumers? How do we bind the diversity across creativity, technology and data? And, most importantly, how do we make the brand spend work even harder and embrace pay-for-performance models?

Before we answer these questions, let us be absolutely clear that creative agencies will continue to exist. What will change, however, is the profound impact of technology on the way they work. Factor in data and the insights it can provide, and creative agencies can develop more engaging and targeted experiences for digital channels.

This is the major opportunity for creative, media and technology agencies. By working closely together and enabled by a marketing platform (see illustration, opposite), there can only be exciting times ahead. Technology is in the process of revolutionising our approach to advertising.

We spend our time working towards creating this platform approach. We have intelligence about how people engage with digital experiences, whether it's in search, community, chatting, statuses, watching digital video or engaging in games and so on. It doesn't matter what it is. It's there.

One-to-one, one-to-some, one-to-most

Intelligence is used cleverly, manifesting itself as one of IPG Mediabrands' profiling categories based on the client objectives: one-to-one (targeting based on individual profiles); one-to-some (targeting based on profiles in a particular location); and one-to-most (targeting based on mass profiles).

There is so much data being captured that we are able to glean intent and ultimately see if we are shifting the perception of a brand.

This blend is really what we're about. We can support ways of creating and distributing really rich, beautiful stories that shift perception on a product just as easily as we can use an algorithm to optimise or action a sale. We know the great opportunity is that we have more measurable data to act on more quickly.

At IPG Mediabrands, we have created a platform (Mediabrands Audience Platform) that allows marketers to optimise creative campaigns by engaging with the most profitable and relevant audience segments across many channels. It combines search, social, video, display and mobile, with addressable outdoor and TV advertising to come.

The MAP platform allows transparent attribution analysis by channel, tactics and loyalty segments. It enhances performance from each channel, informing tactics and strategies through continuous optimisation.

It is our belief that these types of platforms will allow agencies and marketers to take audience data and combine it with their pools of existing data to create high-propensity segments. This increases the bespoke nature of audiences and increases the potential of marketing spend.

Making the transition to performance-based compensation

This way of working allows agencies to adopt commercial models that are based on pay-for-performance and client outcomes, which, in turn, will increase the strategic value of agencies to clients.

IPG Mediabrands has been working to shift its financial model towards performance-based compensation.

Taking a bigger role in technology, data and analytics helps us make that transition and we can now align what we do with how our clients measure their own success.

Ultimately, both media and creative agencies must be known for determining the marketing success for brands. We are huge believers in lining up with our clients' business outcomes.

IPG Mediabrands is focused on creating the agency of the future. Our goal is to become the outsourced marketing department for our clients. To achieve this, we've evolved our specialist digital practices and products into a collection of data-driven services. We've enabled our technologies so that they harmonise with creative ideas. We now provide better engagement with consumers and better return on marketing spend.

Anand Verma is the president of diversified services G14 at IPG Mediabrands


  • Mediabrands Audience Platform: data- and technology-led platform improves insights and results by helping agencies find, buy and engage their most valuable audiences.
  • Pay-for-performance: aligning to our clients' business outcomes.
  • Collaboration: constant collaboration between creative, media and technology agencies is a must.


From Campaign's 'What next in integration' supplement, December 2011


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