How Brands Can Use Data To Drive Their Creative Marketing Decisions



At SMWNYC, panelists brought over by the UK Department for International Trade debated the myriad ways brands can harness the wealth of data now at everyone’s fingertips.

Data: It’s one of those buzzwords you’re hearing everywhere, and while “using data” is, in theory, a good idea, it’s rare that companies are actually gathering, analyzing, and utilizing the insights they can glean from data to their full potential.

That’s not necessarily the fault of the company. Data analysis is still a nascent practice, and at times they are misled, intentionally or not, by third-parties that lack transparency and understanding.

If you’re a business owner who wants to turn data into action, you should have sat in for the Social Media Week New York panel on that very topic, where five experts discussed their takes on how to go from raw data to real operations. Here are some of the biggest insights they provided in a talk moderated by Social Media Week founder and director Toby Daniels:

There’s a role for data in creativity

On the surface, it feels like the words “data” and “creativity” shouldn’t be mixed. But according to the panel, a surprising number of creative decisions can be informed by what data tell us.

“You can see what your audience actually cares about,” said Didrik Svendsen, CPO and Co-Founder at Tailify.

“There’s a dichotomy there. For me, I think branding is quite slippery to define for lots of professionals in our industry. A brand is not a static thing, it’s a million people’s perceptions. I think if you want to be confident in your creativity, you need to know what will drive sales,” said Ali Little, COO at GlobalWebIndex.

Additionally, creativity is more than about crafting one campaign or advertisement, said Nelson Elliott, Head of Biddable Media at Croud. “It can also be the insight that you build your brand architecture around.”

Be mindful of where your information is coming from 

One of the major talking points of the panel was the misconceptions that people have about the word “data” and what it can do for their business.

“‘Data’ isn’t a strategy,” said Elliott. “Clients understand they need to test through these things. But you still need to have your insights. If you try to make testing the core of what you’re doing, you’ll spin your wheels.”

“For 90 percent of the meetings we go to, people say they want to use data. Then you ask them what kind of data they’re using. Actually, you’re not doing anything, you’ve not scratched the surface,” said Svendsen.

“There is a perception that analytics data is absolute truth. Not enough people look into where their data is coming from. There are a lot of gaps and questions of methodology,” said Little.

“You don’t always to use expensive third-party data,” said Andy Pocock, SVP of Corporate Development at Flashtalking. “There are other data sources out there. Could be the weather outside. There is free and cheap data out there you can use to deliver.”

What does the future hold?

In terms of what the panelists found most compelling for the future of data insights, personalization, tracking concerns, and transparency topped the list.

“From a marketing point of view, you can make a world of products that is 10 times better than what we have today. Actually get brands to understand the power of data,” said  Svendsen of personalization.

Pocock was a little more cautious: “You have to think about how to engage people. You can’t get too personalized. You need to get that balance and deliver the relevant message.” He mentioned the cocktail part test: How would you feel if someone approached you at a party and already knew more about you than you ever thought you’d shared?

“What’s interesting is that the concern of privacy cuts across all demographics, but it’s flatlining. Concerns about privacy don’t actually change consumer behaviors. Everybody is annoyed with FB, but it hasn’t changed behavior. We need to earn the right to have that conversation with someone,” said Little.

It’s clear that data has a role to play in even the most traditionally non-data-driven aspects of doing business. But companies will need to take a hard look at where their data comes from, how they actually want to use it, and what they expect their results to be before they start throwing the word around.

UK Department of International Trade secures UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade.


Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Headline Speaker Announcement

Bestselling Author and Entrepreneur, Seth Godin to speak at Social Media Week New York on May 2

Learn More

Watch SMW Live

SMW Insider is a premium video platform that streams more than 180+ hours of talks, presentations, and interviews from leading industry experts.

Subscribe Now

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here