May 2019

The emergence of data has challenged marketers to reinvent the way they plan and execute advertising, and so much has changed since the Don Draper days of advertising. Those were simpler times where one story and one angle worked for brands.

In the early days of advertising, decisions were made using straightforward methods where the strategy and creative messaging were determined based on “gut” or with added input from focus groups or representative surveys.

We didn’t call this data then, but it was. If P&G wanted to connect with moms, they knew they could reach her on TV while she was watching her favorite soap opera. If Molson wanted to reach men, they would position themselves within sports or news content and creative messaging would appeal to a male demographic.

But so much has changed. The availability of customer data and the rapid advancements in technology are fueling creative ideas, changing the way consumers are interacting with brands. Data-driven creative involves using information to drive messaging, allowing marketers to minimize wasted dollars delivering irrelevant ads to a general audience.

Data and technology have revolutionized advertising and it has challenged marketers to think differently. A recent eMarketer survey reveals that businesses feel overwhelmed by the data available to them, with many respondents concerned about the amount of data sources available and how to make sense of it all.

As much as data has created challenges, it has also created opportunities that brands didn’t consider. Almost three-quarters of consumers prefer personalized ads*(Source: and leveraging consumer data insights helps create personalized advertising which can boost performance and maximize ROI. Every dollar matters.

Data will tell you who to reach, when and where. It will give you insight into what your target prefers and how they behave. As marketing becomes more data driven, brands need to evolve as they can’t tell one story anymore. We need to be prepared to tell multiple stories at the same time.

However, most brands continue to operate in silos. Marketing and creativity don’t happen in a vacuum and data and technology can be a powerful ally, merging art and science. Working in silos will work against you. Mix up teams to build a data driven culture! Find opportunities to get tech wizards, data scientists and creative geniuses side by side; working together and finding solutions.

In recent years, we have seen many brands leveraging data’s potential to execute smart advertising campaigns where the goal was to create meaningful connections with their target leveraging data.

Spotify’s 2018 Goals: In early 2018; Spotify created and executed a campaign that leveraged their own data analytics to connect with audiences in a humourous way. This campaign was executed via Out of Home platforms and included messaging based on perceived thought processes of anonymous users that they had collected. The statements were combined with quotes from famous music artists like Adele and Ed Sheeran. This campaign demonstrated the power a brand has when understanding their user data, and using it in a very creative way.

Mark’s Ready for Winter: In January and February retailers tend to focus on clearance sales which are driven by flyer strategies. In 2015, Mark’s decided to try something new. They partnered with Astral Out-of-Home for a two-week campaign to promote in store discounts linked to the day’s temperature. A weather feed provided by The Weather Network allowed the brand to integrate real-time weather data into 40+ Toronto-area digital shelters. The colder it got, they more savings were offered in-store. For example: a -15 day gave customers 15% off all in-store product. The Mark’s brand is impacted by the weather and this campaign was a natural execution all made possible with the use of real-time data. This first-to-market digital transit execution won brand marketing awards and garnered news coverage across the country.

Tennessee Tourism Vacation Matchmaker: The state of Tennessee was looking to attract tourists from nearby states, but research showed that potential visitors didn’t see Tennessee as a vacation destination. The brand set out to show travelers that Tennessee was a vacation destination. The Vacation Matchmaker campaign leveraged users’ online behaviors, likes and interests to serve real-time pre-roll ads that were relevant to them. In the time it took to load pre-roll, this campaign analyzed millions of data points against several readily available Tennessee video clips to find matches. These video clips included ideas for a variety of Tennessee activities. For example; let’s say you’re from Boston and stream Jazz music, make reservations at a local Jazz bar and have visited a Jazz festival; Vacation Matchmaker would showcase a recommendation like the Nashville Jazz Shop to catch a jazz performance. This is a great example of using many data points to drive personalization and relevant creative messaging to consumers. These three campaigns are strong examples of brands using data to move the business forward. Data-driven evolution can seem complicated, but rest assured! There are few simple things you can do as a marketer to can help get your business on that path:

  1. THE FOUNDATION: Always start with your promise to consumers
  2. STAY ALIGNED: Make sure all teams understand your campaign objective. This includes your agencies, partners, creative and data teams.
  3. EMBRACE DATA: Have access to good, reliable data and understand what it is telling you
  4. ONE TEAM: Make sure all teams are collaborating in the right ways. Find ways to get them together. A few data scientists sitting with your creative team is a good start
  5. BE CURIOUS: Test, Test and Test…and learn
  6. BE SMART, BE READY: Analyze and optimize through the life of the campaign. Be ready to respond to new insights and pivot as needed.

Data can seem daunting, but embracing it can help you unlock new potential for your business; just get started and see where it can take you. Data will tell you where you need to go; informing decisions and powering creative strategies that can move your brand beyond the traditional way of thinking.

Patricia Bosch, Director, Client Strategy & Creative Solutions
Pelmorex Corp


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