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Steven Spielberg

Building Dreams on Big Data

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When I think of the power of dreaming, the first thing that comes to my mind is a quote from that greatest of cinematic directors, Steven Spielberg: “I don’t dream at night. I dream all day. I dream for a living.”

But Spielberg didn’t just float his dreams out there and wait for a miracle to turn them into successful movies. He built his creative empire as a business.

Businesses (and dreamers) need data

Like it or not, numbers are how our world is measured today, so the creative people – the dreamers and storytellers, mythmakers and strategists – need to work with the “data demons” to realize their dreams. We need to bring these two very different types of people into harmony to generate what I like to call a Spielberg moment – the point at which creative change begins to ripple across the industry and spark a cutting-edge ideation process for brands.

So what exactly is a Spielberg moment?

Spielberg moments happen as industries evolve. In marketing, a classic print example is Volkswagen*’s “Lemon” campaign in the 1960s. TV and radio came together in the phenomenally successful “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” ads. Apple took the advertising world by storm with its unique, one-time 1984” Super Bowl commercial that reinterpreted Orwell to launch the Mac. And Nike is showing us why they’re the kings of digital advertising with their multi-channel #BetterForIt campaign that celebrates every woman’s fitness journey.

What does this mean for advertisers?

We have the most mobile consumers in the world, and their world is punctuated by micro moments of intense content-rich activities. Every touchpoint in mobile marketing is measurable and every micro moment has the potential to become a Spielberg moment. But it’s not happening. Why? Because we’re still drowning people in a sea of marketing mediocrity. We are still not connecting the data demons to the creative types to deliver relevant messages to individual consumers – the very thing that all the targeting and programmatic technology is designed to enable us to do.

Data and creative – it’s time to get them together

Yes, there is a huge amount of data out there – 90 percent of all the data ever produced was created in the last two years. The problem is figuring out how to harness that data for everyone’s benefit. The root of the problem lies in the continued separation of data and creativity. Each lives in its own silo, working towards its own goals, with its own teams. Never has the contrast between left and right brains been so stark.

Now, I love analytics as much as the next marketer. But I firmly believe that storytelling remains at the heart of everything we do. New technologies are opening up new ways to tell those stories, and new narrative touchpoints are appearing every day. Our opportunity lies in seeing data as a new canvas for storytelling, experimenting with new, non-linear, personalized stories at a scale that’s never been possible before. Data has the power to influence how stories can change, depending on the consumer’s context at any point in time. Contrary to popular belief, data doesn’t kill ideas. It ensures that someone, somewhere, connects with those ideas, pays attention, shares, comments on and reacts to them. This is the power of bringing magic and logic together.

Making magic through logic

When a beautiful creative idea is discovered through data-fueled insight, the result is quite magical. It is the difference between “helping a customer get a job done in exchange for money” and “helping a customer find connection, status, and personal and professional growth, while helping to build a business.”

Both left- and right-brain thinkers share the same goal of creating solutions that increase relevance for consumers. To bridge the divide, we must demonstrate the power of data to add value, and that means thinking about new ways to slice and dice that data to provide new insights into how people are thinking and acting, socially and as consumers.

Turning data into fuel for the creative process

Connecting brand, behavioral, transactional, social and attitudinal data will show us the canvas on which the creative will be playing. We can find this data through:

  • The personal graph – extracting core beliefs, values and personality from social listening
  • The social graph – a common data set that’s open to many to pull
  • The interest graph – curiosity, taste, preference – overlaps with “people like me”
  • The behavior graph – setting a baseline for the quantified self

With the right interpretation and application, seemingly meaningless data can evolve into actionable, relatable stories that in turn make sense of the flood of data.

Is that a Spielberg moment I feel coming on?

This is exactly what Nike is doing with their #BetterForIt campaign. In 2014, Kraft (now KraftHeinz) also leveraged audience engagement with their hidden videos ad campaign for MiO* on YouTube. Data, in the hands of smart, creative, strategic thinkers, can drive creativity to a new level.

You, too, can find your Spielberg moment. All you have to do is dream – but don’t forget about the data.

Ema Linaker, director, Edelman Digital Middle East & Africa.

*Edelman client

Image by David Torcivia.
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