Hello there and welcome to my brand spanking new blog. It’s here to expand on the ideas from my thesis “Data is Our Future: Welcome to the Age of Infomagination,” which was recently awarded the President’s Prize in the IPA Excellence Diploma. As the paper’s being published in Campaign in April I’m not allowed to post it online yet - but here’s the abstract, to give you a taste of what’s in store:
“A lot of people find data scary, or just downright dull. Not me. I believe that embracing data is vital for our industry and I’m on a mission to inspire everyone to love it. In this paper I’ll be showing you how the data revolution is changing both the relationship consumers have with brands, the capabilities that clients need and the way agencies must operate. Finally, I’ll be proving that data is alive with creativity and that marketing is destined to take place at the crossroads of information and imagination. Data is our future. Welcome to the Age of Infomagination.”
Whilst I can’t share the full thing just yet, what I can do is expand on some of the themes touched on in my paper, share additional material that didn’t quite make the cut, explore fresh examples of Infomagination in action and suggest some ideas for how brands and agencies can use data more creatively. Should be fun!
The question is, where to start? Well, there’s loads I could talk about but I think I’ll begin by expanding on the part of my paper that explores how people are better placed than ever to collect, analyse and benefit from data in all areas of their lives – and how smart brands are helping them do it.
To kick off, I’d love to share this little clip (from the film Stranger than Fiction), which inspired and amused me whilst I was writing:
Besides proving that Will Ferrell can be relatively sensible from time to time, what the clip reminds us is that data is potentially created with every movement we make – we just lack the means to collect it most of the time. Thanks to advances in technology, however, those means are increasingly within our grasp – and that means great opportunities for brands that can help people collect, analyse and benefit from all that information.
Let’s start with a well established example - Nike+. If you’ve never tried it, Nike+ is one of those pieces of technology that makes you go WOW. Just place a little sensor in your shoe and slot a receiver into your iPod and you can instantly capture, analyse and compare data about your running ability, using the Nike+ website. As a result, Nike and Apple have created the world’s largest running club, connected and powered by their brands - all by giving people the means to collect and compare relevant information; and presenting it in a user friendly, involving and interactive way. If I was a cycling brand, I’d be working on something similar for that community right now. Bike+, anyone…?
Nike+ Equipment, run analysis, comparison against your friends and a mashup with Google Maps that helps you plan your runs (more about mashups in future posts!)
A second example, which I just spotted in the last week or two, is lurking in the ads below. They’re for the Fiat 500’s new eco-drive system, which allows you to collect and analyse data about the way you drive by plugging a USB stick into a socket by the gearstick when you’re driving, then transferring the information to your mac or PC at home – with the promise of up to a 15% reduction in emissions and fuel bills if you follow the personalised tips it gives you. I’m not sure about their ad agency’s decision to lead on the comedy USB sticks, but I certainly admire the underlying technology - and it illustrates the kind of tailored service that data capture allows perfectly.
Past experience proves that drivers aren’t always happy about having their data recorded, however – in June this year, Norwich Union axed its pay as you drive scheme, which would have charged drivers' insurance premiums on the basis of data collected from their vehicle, rewarding those that were less risky drivers. Research showed that fewer than one in ten motorists would be prepared to have a monitoring device fitted even if it reduced their premiums by 30% - with 27% saying they would never install such a device "no matter how much it could save them”. The lesson here is the simplest one in marketing: that the perceived benefit to the customer must outweigh the perceived risk. For most people, the danger of handing over information about where and how fast they’d been driving outweighed the benefits of saving a few quid. At the end of the day, there’s some data that people would rather keep private.
On that note, the final thing I’d like to share with you this time around is Bedpost – a website that helps you track and analyse your sex life. Whilst I’m sure it would be fascinating, it’s not one I’m planning on using myself – though maybe I should forward it on to Belle de Jour?
I could keep going with more serious examples, but I like to keep things concise and to the point - and the point is that we increasingly can and will analyse all sorts of things in our lives, using tools to collect, analyse and compare the information we create; and brands have much to gain by helping people along the way.
This could be by helping us gather data that hasn’t been available to us before, as in the examples above. Alternatively, it could just involve giving people the means to learn from the data that’s collected about them already. For example, in these credit crunched times it would be great to see O2 helping me to analyse my mobile phone bill online to see where I could save, or HSBC giving me basic financial analysis tools on their internet banking, so I could manage my cashflow better. Either way, in the future, brands will learn that that using data to their customers’ advantage is the best way of turning it to their own.
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So that’s it for blog post number one. I’ve still got loads of other things I want to tell you about but I hope you’ve enjoyed this little taster of things to come – and that you’ll be back once I’ve cooked up another piping hot helping of Infomagination.