Perspective - Let's put data and market research at heart of creativity
A view from Nicola Mendelsohn

Perspective - Let's put data and market research at heart of creativity

In my first speech as the president of the IPA, I called for the industry to rediscover its spirit of creative pioneering by developing better skills, better connections and refreshing our talent pool. How we work with the market research industry and companies such as Ipsos Mori, in particular, is crucial in securing these objectives.

I have a sense of urgency in bridging a broadening gap between the marketing research and communications industries. Schisms always tend to weaken both parties and neuter advance and discovery. There are occasions when agency team members don't listen to market research, are dismissive and almost neuralgic to the use of data. Equally, there are instances of researchers who use data dogmatically and reject creative work on the grounds that "computer says no". This creates frustration, which leads to separation, and neither side can benefit as a result.

The IPA actively promotes the value of research that enhances consumer insight and provides rich evidence of how advertising is working. We have sought to create a culture of effectiveness that uses robust data exploitation in order to show the worth of advertising, and this will continue. We have worked with the media research industry to try to identify better ways to plan media in an increasingly cluttered environment with the development of Touchpoints. However, there are genuine questions being asked about whether established benchmark and tracking studies are fit for purpose, and whether in-market testing should replace pre-testing. For example, in advertising, we are finding that Tweets can predict whether a campaign is going to fly - or fail.

My mission is to improve existing skills by developing better connections between our industries. I would like to extend an open invitation to the market research community to respond to my challenge to pioneer new ways of doing things that make us all more fit for purpose in a fast-changing communications environment.

I would also like to find a way to improve the sharing of talent across our businesses. In my first speech, I spoke of how David Ogilvy only entered advertising aged 40 after having been a chef, salesman and pollster. It was the last of these trades that was so useful to Ogilvy as he put data and market research at the heart of his creative development.

I would like to see a new round of cross-pollination between our industries. This would prove rewarding and stimulating for employees and could help enrich our understanding of how 21st-century communication and influencing really works. If we do that, we can re-skill, build better connections and refresh our shared pool of talent. And when we do that, we will create a more vibrant industry.

Nicola Mendelsohn is the IPA president and executive chairman of Karmarama