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Brands, agencies to rewire approaches using data: CVL Srinivas, WPP

Data will aid relevant messaging: CVL Srinivas, WPP

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MUMBAI: Data. A four letter word that has even the senior most executives sweating and scratching their heads. While it is a small little word, understanding how to use it, is actually very complicated. That’s why  all we’ve been hearing about in the last year is how can brands and agencies leverage the most of data and more importantly, understanding the basics of data. 

Data is not restricted to using it only in advertising (for data-driven advertising), it can essentially be a very function of every brand. With all the buzz around data and using it to reach the consumer effectively and efficiently, marketers and agencies must know how to make the most of data for better ROI and consumer engagement.

Google Maps, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Google, YouTube, Netflix have all changed our world, and for good! Technology has changed the way we connect with brands and things around us. You like something, you hit a ‘heart’, something makes you furious, you reply via an angry emoji on Facebook. All this consumer behaviour is Data for marketers. And with a consumer’s likes, dislikes, hearts, tweets and browsing history available readily, a brand maps the consumer behaviour and reaches to them with targeted advertising and content. That’s why you only get a message or pop up to shop or buy your favourite pair of clothes, lipstick, car or mobile that you’ve been eyeing for long.

However, with brands being able to map your behaviour by scrutinising you and using your data, it also violates a consumer right to privacy. To address this, the Government of India is currently considering sweeping a data privacy law -  Personal Data Protection Bill of 2018 , which states that privacy is a "fundamental right" under the Indian Constitution. 

The bill is closely modelled after the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It broadly applies to all personal data defined as any data of a person which allows direct or indirect identifiability; and envisions a regime where individual consent is the cornerstone of data-sharing. If the bill is passed, it may change the way on when, where and how much data can brands actually use. 

Maybe eventually brands will have to pay their users in some form to be able to use their data in the new framework of guidelines. It could be in the form of money, virtual money, coupons or discounts.

To understand the current scenario and future of data driven marketing, in a quick chat with Indiantelevision.com, WPP country manager CVL Srinivas gave us insights about creating the balance between using data and human insights, future of advertising with data, WPP’s plan for 2019 and more. Excerpts: 

The importance of data in advertising today is more than ever. How do you see the future of advertising along with data?

Data is a critical part of every business today. We have a lot more data available to us than we ever had before. Today, every business is looking at transforming itself - by smartly leveraging data, businesses can fast track their growth in numerous ways. Advertising is becoming a lot more data-led. Not just in targeting the right audience or deciding the best 

medium, data is inspiring creative thinking on brands. We saw numerous examples of data-inspired creativity at our summit today. Going forward, we will see brands and agencies adapting to this new data world by rewiring their approaches. This is not to say that all the

traditional methods will go out of the window. We need as much of the marketing gut as we need data.

Having too much data can often become complex. What’s the way out?

A data strategy needs to start with a purpose. The end uses of data need to be defined. Else there is a tendency to try and boil the ocean. Like we heard from a lot of our panellists that day, that the best approach is to start small, test a few hypotheses and then scale up. 

Somewhere along the way one learns what kind of data is most valuable for a particular business/brand.

While brands and agencies have a lot of rich data available today, we don’t know what to do with it. Do we still need time to get there where we understand the data and can leverage it to the best?

Most businesses are on the journey to get better at harnessing the power of data. There is no one defined method. Some of them have made more progress while others are starting off from scratch. While there is an abundance of data, what we really need is a more 

balanced approach to putting it to good use. By ‘balanced’, I mean combining data points across different sources to paint a broader picture. That’s where we need to see more progress generally speaking. 

Focus point for agencies and brands in 2019?

Data-centricity will be a key priority going forward, but it must go hand in hand with creativity. 

Do you think brands and agencies need to take a step back, pause and say, “I think we are pushing it too much!” How can we as an industry skip being ad-blocked?

I think we will soon get to a point where most, if not all advertisers will realise the need to move from a completely push-based advertising approach to a more balanced way of engaging with their consumers. Data and technology are making it easier to identify consumer tastes and preferences more sharply. This will reduce the bombardment. On top of that, if one knows what kind of content engages the consumer, it can result in more relevant messaging being served.

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