August 16, 2009

Kings of Data

mlewis_maex03Advertising is a business where all too often it is the creative people who get most of the credit. As they stand there holding up their trophies at another award ceremony they are very unlikely to thank the data analyst who help shape the campaign that just won.

Meet¬†Dimitri Maex, he runs Ogilvy’s analytical team. His recent profile in a Fortune magazine article¬†highlights how much the number crunchers are beginning to be a force in the advertising world. When a client like Cisco paid more attention to him than the creative team during a presentation he knew his time had come. As the article says, “After years of calling the shots, the traditional Mad Men of advertising — the creative types who cooked up memorable sell-lines like “the ultimate driving machine” — are increasingly sharing the spotlight with, you guessed it, the nerds”.

Of course the recession has helped people like Dimitri take center stage as it “made advertisers hungrier for proof that their multimillion-dollar campaigns are working”. Clients have also been looking for new ways to compensate agencies. As the article tells us “Coke is starting to grade its agencies based on four criteria, including sales and market share gains. The new compensation model will be introduced in 35 markets this year and is expected be rolled out to all of Coke’s agencies worldwide by 2011. Agencies that perform have the chance to pocket 30% above their costs — far more than they make under the old fee system”.

To learn how data influences campaigns read the article.

radiohead1I want to look at another Data King. This time it is someone that takes raw data and transforms it into something truely beautiful. Aaron Koblin works at Google Creative Labs and has been playing with data for years producing projects such as the visualisation of SMS messages in Amsterdam, the flight patterns of more than 205,000 different aircraft being monitored by the FAA on August 12, 2008 and even a music video for Radiohead.

Watch a fascinating presentation by Aaron here to discover how he works his magic with data.

The creative kings are not dead. They just need to learn to work together with the other masters of their domains – the kings of data. Together they make a powerful alliance.