Golden Nuggets: Advertising’s ‘Data’ Wave Has Arrived

When I look at the world of advertising, by way of my career path through the Direct Marketing Association and Harte Hanks and now with the Digital Advertising Alliance—I confess I’ve been a “direct response” snob by training. (As a PR guy, I tend to enjoy Kool-Aid.)

When I look at the world of advertising, by way of my career path through the Direct Marketing Association and Harte Hanks and now with the Digital Advertising Alliance—I confess I’ve been a “direct response” snob by training. (As a PR guy, I tend to enjoy Kool-Aid.)

Always a victim of brand czars and image advertising, the world of direct response long has been relegated to “below the line” and ironically “unmeasured media”—even though direct-response marketers (no matter what the medium) always had the secret sauce in sight: relentless testing, true measurability and accountability, all to figure out which advertising messages and campaigns actually produced. The result might be a sale, a lead, traffic—always a defined objective, with a return on investment obsession. What’s not sexy about advertising that works?

It seems like for 20-plus years—with the rise of database marketing, customer relationship management, inbound marketing, agency holding companies gobbling up digital and direct agencies, marketing automation, customer centricity, brand interaction, personas and analytics—we might be able to say to ourselves, data-driven advertising has arrived! All marketing is now integrated! We are now welcomed in the C-suite!

That does not take anything away from brilliant creative—we all love brilliant creative—but if the offer, the strategy, the audience are not on target, what good is brilliant creative?

Recently at the Direct Marketing Club of New York January luncheon, Bruce Biegel, senior managing director, The Winterberry Group, presented his annual media roundup of the prior year with projections for 2015. As Targeting Marketing reported, it’s a data lover’s dream. Every trend behind follow-the-money seems to point to responsible data collection, data sharing and data use at its core.

Bruce didn’t hold back. Direct and digital spending is forecast to grow 7.3 percent this year—compared to 1.5 percent growth for measured media (image advertising) categories. The former will feed GDP growth, he forecasts, while the latter will lag.

This is not a rub-your-face-in-it post (I’ve been on the other side a few times, too). It’s simply a recognition that whatever our biases and opinions about what’s hot and what’s not on Madison Avenue, Silicon Valley and data centers everywhere, it’s that advertising technology, the data sharing that fuels such technology, and the strategic insights and marketing executions made possible by analytics, are now a top priority for most every Chief Marketing Officer. DMA and even The White House previously have documented these trends.

We’re in the limelight—as much as digital and now data disruption has been uncomfortable for many, and with so many data silos still to break through and smart people yet to hire to make sense of it all. Ladies and gentleman, the glow feels good.

Happy Data Innovation Day this week (January 22).