Are ‘Geeks’ Re-Invigorating Brands? In a Word, Yes

As we learn to access, integrate and apply data insights, the ad business is getting more quantitative than it’s ever been — let’s pick up the pace.

As we learn to access, integrate and apply data insights, the ad business is getting more quantitative than it’s ever been — let’s pick up the pace.

One of the keynotes I enjoyed from the Direct Marketing Association’s &Then 2015 was IBM’s John Iwata and his announcement that “Cognitive Business” is the company’s new brand positioning. According to Iwata, this replacement for “Smarter Planet” (which I will remember fondly) reflects the realities that are happening when applied technology and artificial intelligence revolutionize a number of fields which IBM serves — including marketing. Take a bow, IBM Watson.

Or how Owen tells his techie friends and family that he now has a job with GE. A venerable brand makes a very data-love statement, and instead of joining a startup, its new commercial hero chooses a job at one of the great champions of the industrial and post-industrial era.

Some may already know many quants have come storming into ad tech, an alternative path to careers on Wall Street. Algorithms are desperately needed to connect relevant content to individuals across devices. The same types of formulae drive programmatic media and audience buying, increasing efficiency and lift.

Our friends at Marketing EDGE — fresh from its Annual Awards Dinner — launched the I-MAX Program [Interactive Marketing Analytics Xperience] in 2013 specifically to build student awareness for careers in marketing data and analysis. Certainly, this is rewarding for students — and it’s a great deal for marketers, too, eager to hire.

There really is a chance for these professionals to create positive impacts, drive innovation in markets — and connect people to the products and services they desire using insights from data as a differentiator. Instead of moving money around in investment banks, they are moving along a global economy (perhaps the same ends in a different way).

GE and IBM certainly captured my attention, so has National Geographic. Merit wins the race: And so we have a competition among us to find, attract, hire and cultivate STEM stars as an integral part of strategic marketing teams. There may not be enough Owens for all of us, so perhaps that’s where Watson may step in. Brands and their advertising partners, in fact the entirety of the marketing field, need to keep doing their quantitative best … Help wanted.

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

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