The Good Old Days of Marketing and Advertising: Re-Modeled for Big Data

The best marketer, strategist, advertising thinker online DigitalTonto offers up his take on where advertising and marketing need to go in todays big data love fest. His post “Why Most Marketers Will Fail In The Era Of Big Data“. Walks us through the heyday advertising Leo Burnett to big data.

Leo Burnett and Marlboro is a success story built on the back of guts and instinct. Those of us from the day know this story and even though it is for poison the reality is clear you can move from “worst to first”.

Greg reminds us of New Coke and what that ended up being. F L O P Yet it was tested with over 200,000 consumers who voted it a winner. (Reminds me of a brand manager who said he didn’t want us to use green on an ad because his wife didn’t like green.) Well the truth was no one wanted ‘real’ Coke taken away.

Lest we forget planners, those in the agency who would research the shit out of the consumer to enhance the creative product. They offered up the likes of ‘professional men’, ‘young aspires’, etc. As Greg shares planners suffered confirmation bias. So much for the human condition and data.

Today we are moving toward simulation marketing where data is analyzed by machines. It is the application of BIG data into marketing decisions to identify what to do, say, pitch, at various segments. Greg points out that we are no longer Leo Burnett’s but (a new word for me) growth hackers. But the following is where he sees this marketing world and us inhabiting it:

In fact, he points [Andrew McAfee] to research which shows that rather than trying to use data to inform our judgment, we would do much better by putting our energy into building better models, but taking their answers at face value.  Applying our own subjective judgment after the fact is much more likely to worsen results than it is to improve them.

I am not so sure that we have to do that, you know close our eyes fall back and trust someone will catch us. I am not a Luddite and I believe that we can take what the machines tell us and massage meaning and color and shading and messaging and strategy and a headline and a graphic from it. We need to work in parallel with the machines and the big data. To this point a good trusted and very smart friend had this response to Greg’s post:

So essentially no one has to actually think anymore, no one has to exercise judgment or insight or perception, they just have to be able to push the “start” button.  Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the answer is 42.  Perfect for today’s crop of spoiled, insolent, lazy-minded students.  The computer nerds win.  Civilization is totally, totally fracked.

Makes you glad we’re old and useless, rather than young and useless which is what we would be today, where the mantra is do not think, force not accommodate, and make war not love.

My take on this, my friend is right we can not surrender at least those of us who think and have experience. We can be Leo with the help of the machines. Perhaps even better but the issue is those to control the creative product in advertising and marketing are not creatives but that is whole long rant.