A 2016 Resolution From the Bay Area: The Next Wave of Data + Maker Culture
After moving from New York to San Francisco I was stunned by the blatant 'maker' culture of the Bay area. On Madison Avenue, the tendency in the industry is to outsource what needs to be done. For example, if you needed to integrate VFX in your spot, you outsource to a production company. Need social metrics? You better have a good social agency partner, and so on. Here, I realized that people were creating everything from their own surfboards to their own vegetables, and I got inspired by all the folks around me that were tackling things for the very first time. Feeding off of this stimulus I spent a lot of last year figuring out what it was that I wanted to build and own.
As a strategy guy, I have always been super interested in how results are calculated, presented, and received by our clients. What I realized is for the industry at large, no one is going to do advertising any favors when it comes to our work being effective. As agencies we need to be able to do a better job than just operating off of hunches. We need to be able to back up our ideas with tangible, articulate data - how to mine for it, how to analyze it and ultimately to demonstrate the actual ROI for our clients.
So, my New Years resolution for 2016 and beyond is to become a better, more self-sufficient data analyst. The beauty of Cutwater is that while we are strong creatively, we are creating a culture that values data, ensuring that our processes are paramount in making marketing and business decisions for our clients. It sets us apart when we walk into a new business pitch. Having a reel that’s tough to match, and being open to analytic driven decision making is a rare combination.
For the past four months I have already started putting my goals into practice. I’ve been taking data classes at John Hopkins and using a great service called Slide Rule which includes a mentorship with a top class data scientist. My mentor is a UX research at Facebook, which is perfect because it helps that we both work to make consumer experiences better. Looking into 2016 I am hoping to take it a step further.
For example, I want to start going to more data and tech-focused meetups next year to become more of a participating member of the data-science community. I believe that there is this white space between people who clearly understand the complexities of data and people who can articulate it well to others. As a client-facing person, I want to have the social advantage of being able to talk about data in a way my clients will understand.
For agencies in general, I believe that data integration at scale will be integral to our survival. Brands understand data and value when they can share it with their agency partners. They want us to be able to leverage our own mined data to make strong recommendations for their marketing programs. I read an Ad Age article on this topic this year and it articulated this perfectly: “When sources of first-party data are integrated with marketer data, they enable delivering more value to the brand to connect with high-value consumers.” Housing these insights internally within our agencies, coupled with the maker culture of San Francisco will prime us to deliver creative and effective work for our clients.