In a piece from the New Yorker in early 2018, writer Ken Auletta explored the new paradigm of advertising. His conclusion was that the smoky rooms populated with “creatives” plotting clever new ad campaigns had been replaced by devotees of Big Data.
People that work in marketing wouldn’t be surprised by the assertions in this piece. But they would likely find a degree of validation in it. That’s because we know that so much of our work is driven by metrics. Though the public perception of advertising might still be rooted in the realities of days past, today’s marketing is a results-driven process based on analytics.
The Science of Marketing
Online marketing is more than just a convenient addition to a business’s toolbox; it has become a vital component of customer and client outreach. Part of the reason why online marketing is so essential is that people use the internet to find virtually every type of service and product imaginable.
If you’re looking for a restaurant, for example, you’re likely to go online, look for something close to you, check customer reviews and find something that looks reputable and appealing. The same is true for other establishments, goods and services.
While it’s tempting to mourn the days when you’d blindly walk into a store or law office and leave your experience up to chance, the fact is that finding high-quality and convenient service at the touch of a screen is a good thing for consumers. It’s also a good thing for businesses – if they know how to properly build their online presence.
This is where the science of marketing comes into play. When people search for a service or click on a business’s website, they leave behind footprints. Businesses can measure the amount of traffic their site receives, analyze the time people spend on a page and, in some cases, determine how effective their ad campaigns and websites are in converting interested audiences into customers and clients.
Data not only helps marketers measure the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of a campaign, it also helps us know more about our audiences. We can find out where the audience is most likely to live, how old they are and what their hobbies and interests might include.
In the era of big advertising agencies, information about customer bases and demographics existed, but it was less clear how this information could inform a business’s marketing approach. Even in the earlier days of online marketing, there was a significant delay in marketers’ access to customer information.
As a high-level marketer from Unilever mentions in the New Yorker article, the information they received in the infancy of online marketing was secondhand and three months old. Today, it is near instantaneous and paints a much clearer portrait of potential customers.
Is Creativity a Thing of the Past in Marketing?
Marketing is still very much a creative industry. Analytics simply provide a canvas for that creativity. Problems can be identified, and the effectiveness of campaigns can be measured to craft better marketing campaigns.
Staying on top of the developments in the industry requires a great deal of ongoing education, curiosity and research. Originality and inventiveness are vital components of a great marketing agency. Solving problems requires creative thinking, as do brand messaging and crafting unique content.
Today’s Marketing is Dynamic and More Precise
What has changed over the past few decades is the fact that guesswork is rapidly being replaced by real-time feedback and data analysis. In other words, marketing decisions are now far more informed than in the days of traditional advertising. We don’t have to jump to conclusions about why a business’s campaign might have been effective. The numbers can help us have a quicker and more effective impact on the direction of a campaign.
To say that marketing has become more clinical is not to say that it is less personal or engaging for audiences. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Marketing is now an industry that focuses heavily on individuals. A campaign reaches out to a person directly, and it can cater a message to reflect a person’s preferences and interests.
The Mad Men era has been romanticized by television, and it’s easy to forget that the power agencies yielded in that era was based partly on hype and sometimes ill-informed industry trends. Today, marketers and businesses can build campaigns on analytics, precise data and, most importantly, results. That’s good news for all of us.