Cannes Lions 2016: The Next Step in Data is ‘Beautiful Data’

by: Navjot Singh on 25 June 2016

In An Exclusive Interview With 12ahead.Com, Haydn Sweterlitsch, Global Chief Creative Officer At Hackeragency Explains Why Big Brands, Creative Agencies And Clients Need To Be Prepared For Beautiful Data And What It Means

"I do believe that with the speed of processing improving exponentially and with our ability to harvest data being the stuff of science-fiction, it comes down to the next step, which is that we have Big Data, we have Smart Data and the next step in the evolution is Beautiful Data. This would be data that informs you and that is digestible, and eventually becomes actionable. That to me is beautiful data and that is the future of data." - Haydn Sweterlitsch

The constant importance of using and applying the usage of data and the internet of things (IoT), as a topic, has had marketers jumping for sheer joy for a number of years now.

But there's an emerging concept within Data known as beautiful data, explained Haydn Sweterlitsch, chief creative officer at HackerAgency, who spoke to 12ahead’s Navjot Singh at Cannes Lions earlier this week.

“The opportunity for data from agencies and clients comes in two places: One is in informing clients so they can make better decisions. We have been using the term 'Big Data' for several years now but the reality of the situation is that very often is that big data not necessarily ‘Smart Data’. One area that agencies really have an opportunity is in data visualisation for their clients. Very often clients will have all this volume of data at their fingertips but they cannot consume it. They can't digest it so they cannot get the nourishment that they so deserve. So, the easier the agencies can make the data to consume for their clients and visualise it so that they can see the trends and they can see what is important, then clients would be able to make more informed decisions and help the data to fuel their marketing decisions.” Said Hayden

He went on to elaborate: “On the creative end, the reality is that what we are doing right now at a lot of data-driven agencies, such as ours for example, is already the stuff of science-fiction. It's very impressive and its things that five or ten years ago we would have never thought possible. What we are doing in telecoms with our clients at AT&T, for example, for mobility with list-driven digital is amazing as we are serving up mobile banners and banners, not a Hayden like object but to Hayden himself. Basically this means personalising and targeting to a person like you or a person that has similar sights as you (i.e. the consumer), but in fact to you and where you are at that moment in time. That type of contextual relevance is amazing. The numbers we have seen on that are very impressive compared to simple banner ads and placements.”

“Another place that we see a lot of opportunity is in list-driven television where we can serve up broadcast ads to customers that are not like that but are surgically that person. At the moment it is kind of in its embryotic stages as far as uptake and right now and I believe the numbers are that if you are if your market is over three per cent, but under 30 per cent of the TV viewing population, then it’s in your wheelhouse because you get that targeting and that specificity to that person and not just someone who happens to watch CNN but that person watching CNN at that moment. When you go over 30 per cent it behoves you to just make a TV buy and if you are under 30 per cent, that's not cost effective but that's details which you are probably not interested in but still, it is science-fiction things!” Said Sweterlitsch.

12ahead: Why should any creative director or agency chief care about this?

Sweterlitsch: Where I see our opportunity comes from understanding how your users gain attraction. For example, we ae going to be seeing 50 billion devices being connected by 2020, according to Cisco's forecast this year. People are going to be in a place of extreme noise. Technology has a way of going from magic to manic to toxic. 'Magic'- I can send an email and everyone had felt that kind of tingle the first time they send an email; 'Too manic'- I get too many emails; and 'Too Toxic'- I am ignoring my emails. When every device in your life is connected and is able to speak to you and is potentially a marketing channel, you are going to see people turning off very quickly. The kind of Darwinian landscape of technology will become a little more fast-forward and platforms and technologies will serve or thrive based on user-uptake. So, what we profess is that we have to somehow create marketing and use data to drive this marketing to calm people down and not necessarily be interrupting or distracting them. They'll have enough interruption and distraction. Already, one in five people use ad-blocking technology. I just saw Chuck Porter, Dana Anderson and Susan Credle talking about being replaced by algorithms, and the forecast for that by the end of next year is that one in eight to ten people in the world will be using ad-blocking.

12ahead: So, what is the best way for creatives and your clients to go around that?

Sweterlitsch: Everyone is seeing diminishing ROI on their simple banner ad placements. The way around ad-blocking technology is to use data to fuel and to reach people on a one-to-one level but when you do so and when you reach them it is all about being empowering, evocative, compelling and useful. The old helping knot of selling, unless a message is hyper-relevant and I am really something that I am interested in, I am not going to react to it. So, don't throw things in front of me that are going to be a distraction. Empowering, I say that because a lot of people in our industry talk about customer eccentricity and customer journeys. I believe that we are already and currently in the era of customer-controlled marketing as opposed to customer-centric marketing. "The deer have the rifles, essentially!” Customers have more choice among brands, they have more choice in how they interact with brands and they have more opportunity to tune brands out and as a result, they (the customers) are in control. That is why we see customer journeys from acquisition and awareness through purchase and eventually retention and that's ultimately what you want. It’s not just to acquire customers to get the best out lifetime value out of them.

We see them being very immersive, non-linear and messy journeys, whereas every agency has that beautiful infinity loop of awareness to acquisition through retention and then back. The reality is that it is not so elegant because people are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of messages for about brands and about purchasing decisions. The higher the consideration level for the purchase, the more they are exposed to because the longer then sales cycle is, the more we see that happening, the more we have to empower those customers by informing them and making it useful because ultimately, an empowered and informed customer is your best customer because they are going to make the right purchasing decision for them and that's the first step to real lifetime value is having someone be confident in their decision. Since they have so much choice, it is better if they go with the choice that is right for them so the more you cannot try to sway them or convince them but rather inform them. That’s going to be good brand halo and it’s also going to help to make them better decisions.

12ahead: You are passionate about voice-recognition can you talk a bit about conversation as a platform?

Sweterlitsch: In regards to speech recognition, and I am a huge fan of what Amazon has done with Echo and Alexa. I think of Alexa as a person. I think she is endearing, approachable, warm, useful and functional. One of the important things in today's technology, especially with the evolution of mobile is that is not necessarily important to be the first to market but to be the best to market. Siri is wonderful and great and I am impressed with what Apple have done with it. I wonder if they'll be opening it up for developers like they did last week, if not for the over three million units of Echo that were released and Google announcing that they are coming out with the Assistant and also the Sky Bots. I think we are on this threshold where I think Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning will fuel new pieces of interaction. We have been concentrating on the screens when it comes to digital and digital work because the screen is how people interact.

12ahead: Final Remarks?

Sweterlitsch: I do believe that with the speed of processing improving exponentially and with our ability to harvest data being the stuff of science-fiction, it comes down to the next step, which is that we have Big Data, we have Smart Data and the next step in the evolution is Beautiful Data. This would be data that informs you and that is digestible, and eventually becomes actionable. That to me is beautiful data and that is the future of data.