DDB's Wendy Clark on Intersection of Creative and Research

By Charlene Weisler Media Insights Archives

Data has become vitally important in all aspects of media from buying to selling. But not all data is relevant and not all methodology is sound. "We are awash in data," warned new ARF CEO Scott McDonald at the organization’s recent conference in New York. "Every member company of the ARF is struggling as to how to manage their data and intellectual assets. We are tentative and hesitant as to how to integrate data sources. There are methodological problems, whether they can deliver usable results," he added. With a focus on content creation as well as media analytics, Jed Meyer, ‎Executive Vice President, Corporate Research, Univision Communications added: "There are many changes in our industry and we need to rise to the occasion to meet this disruption. We are looking at the data industry to help us adjust and we are seeing the importance of creating relevant content.”

“Studies have shown that 70% of the impact of an [advertising] campaign is due to the quality of the creative," commented Jasper Snyder, Executive Vice President ‎Research and Innovation for the ARF.

Wendy Clark, CEO, DDB North America explained, "Today's currency is speed. Are agencies keeping pace? Our approach is to be as dynamic as the marketplace. The days of the fixed model are over." And that is where data comes in. "Data is not a proxy for decision making," she noted. "But used correctly data can be used to fuel insights and correct decisions." She also warned, "Data can kill creativity when used in the wrong way and wrong time, but used in the correct way it can enable creativity."

Agencies are Undergoing Transformative Change

"Agencies get it," she continued. "Our jobs are to manage the present and invent the future. It is incredibly difficult to do that exceptionally well." According to Clark this change has to be holistic, using data at the core and offering the ability to capture consumers' "micro moments, macro stories and mega events."

To meet this transformative change, DDB looked at their clients' consumers in a new way. With State Farm, for example, the messaging went from reactive (State Farm is there to help you when things go wrong) to proactive (State Farm is here to help your life go right). "This was driven by deep research analytics and insights and developed into a category breaking idea," Clark noted.

For McDonalds, "We built an entirely new agency; not for McDonalds but for people who wanted to go to McDonalds," she explained. "We started with research to unleash creativity. Data science sits physically in the center of the agency."

Media Companies Look Toward ROAS

No sector of the industry can afford to remain complacent. Media companies need to keep up with the frenetic pace of change. David Poltrack, Chief Research Officer, CBS, believes that, "Many advertisers are not currently realizing the full potential of their TV advertising campaign." And to that end, he has been developing the Campaign Performance Audit or CPA in partnership with Nielsen Catalina, to help quantify the return on ad spending (ROAS).

"ROAS is defined as the incremental sales lift divided by the campaign spend," explained Leslie Wood, Chief Research Officer, Nielsen Catalina Solutions. "We take into account flighting, targeting and seasonality. Recency matters a lot here because advertising closer to the actual purchase is more effective." As relatively new as ROAS is in measuring media, the method for ascertaining the metric is being tweaked. "We have recently switched from households reached to how many purchases were reached," Wood continued. "This is a big step forward."

Today's Needs are Also Future Needs

McDonald concluded, "Our industry is rife with conflict and uncertainty which can be ameliorated by neutral unimpeachable research. We have big hairy audacious problems such as fraud in the pipeline. But even if we didn't have these problems, we still need to be able to measure ROI, the impact of an ad on a consumer, engagement and emotional response."

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