HOW AGENCIES CAN SURVIVE THE DATA REVOLUTION

By Ami Murphy Iannone, Creative Director - January 30, 2019

How agencies can start leading with data

In order to effectively lead clients into the future, agencies must deeply understand the new cultural video paradigm. This means understanding how to deal in the lingua franca of digital culture, namely video. They must be able to create and distribute effective videos on behalf of their brand clients as well as being able to measure and interpret the data that results from those video interactions.

Agency leaders that seize the emerging ability to use data science and artificial intelligence to provide deep audience insights will be setting their organization up for long-term success. Applying these capabilities for clients now, or failing to do so, will determine an agency’s position in the future.

In order to survive the data revolution and come out on top, make sure you’re working toward the following goals.

Accessing the right data for your clients

We’ve covered many of the popular data sources available to brands and agencies as well as the overwhelming amount of data available. Work with your client to determine which data sources will be the most valuable for informing their audience understanding and creative direction. The best data is both personalized and predictive.
Provide that data at the right points— before and after the pitch. This means moving toward a future of data-inspired creative, where audience knowledge and interests guide your creative process towards successful forecasted outcomes, not just using selective data to validate the creative concepts you think will work.
Additionally, you should be using data to give context to those successes or failures alongside the metrics of each campaign’s performance.

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Using that data to make faster, smarter decisions

Speed is key. When brands describe the benefits of insourcing their agency functions, speed and efficiency rank high. The agency of the future needs to be sleek, efficient and obstacle-free. Having easily accessible, constantly-refreshing data sources at the ready will set you apart. Data is not only useful in retrospect but should be used to predict future outcomes and provide validation and rationale for all future creative concepts.

The future of branded storytelling is made up of brilliant concepts ignited through deep audience understanding. Agencies have historically been the creative engines and they can supercharge that position of creative talent with deep audience insights and data validation.

Letting data inspire your creative.

Creativity could be considered the opposite of data. After all, if you’re making something brand new, you don’t have many points of comparison to measure by. And many creative shops may feel intimidated by the new-found focus on data. Some of those fears are justified, but there are also myriad opportunities for creatives to use data to their advantage.

Creativity is intuitive and people’s responses to it are unpredictable. It can be hard to anticipate what people will like, dislike, or find entertaining. Data allows you to quantify some of those abstractions in order to better understand what worked, maybe why it worked, and perhaps allow you to replicate that success in the future. Or, at minimum, use that successful formula to inspire the next creative endeavor.

Understanding the human side of an audience is the key to correctly interpreting data points and being able to craft storylines around shared values and points of interest. Ultimately, data can inspire and power better creative concepts and can help agencies reinforce their position as both creative powerhouses and thought leaders.

Reporting back to your clients with meaningful, forward-thinking results

No matter how brilliant your creative output, you’ve still got to prove that it worked. Brands are beginning to understand that lots of marketing dollars get wasted on delivering carefully-crafted messaging to the wrong audience, or on the wrong channels, or to a bunch of bots. It can be nearly impossible to decipher meaningful metrics from all the other metrics available.


As we’ve outlined, the metrics available from the native social channels are often deceptive. And if you’re not uncovering sentiment and interests, then your reporting isn’t providing a full picture of your campaign’s performance.

As thought leaders on customer acquisition, agencies should always be looking forward even when reporting on wrapped campaigns. This means that the focus of your reporting should be around success metrics as they inform future strategy— not just numbers for delivery’s sake. Does your current reporting consistently unearth new insights for your clients? If not, you’re probably not dazzling them.

Agencies should employ tools that help them not only report on success but also deeply understand the audience to inform future creative strategy and delivery.

Agency leaders can learn how to lead their team and their clients into the future by downloading our free guide, "Turning your agency into a data leader"

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The best agencies are thought leaders for their clients, providing strategic guidance to lead clients into the future. And the future is Data Inspired Storytelling.

The opportunity right now for agencies is to challenge themselves to change their organizations to become masters of real-time predictive analytics. The goal is to become leaders for their clients; to help their clients navigate the glut of data available and unlock creativity through consumer insights.

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