TOP OF THE MORNING (Q&A)
The pursuit of better, cleaner, more organized data solutions remains the holy grail for any number of companies attending AWNY, but two of them: Eikimetrics and Kenshoo, each have their own philosophy on how to make that work. Cynopsis got the lowdown on both approaches from Ekimetrics’ general manager for North America Adam Rogers (making his first trip to AW this year), who appeared on Wednesday’s panel Operationalizing the Customer Experience: Role of CDP; and Tom Affinito, VP for corporate development at Kenshoo, an AWNY veteran who says, “Advertising Week is like a 25th anniversary college reunion that happens every year!” Affinito will also appear on a panel tomorrow, Putting the Customer at the Heart of Investment Decisions.
What are the messages you want your audiences to take away from your panels?
Affinito: The message is simple: to unlock investments for innovation, and to uncover key insights for market advantage, marketers must move beyond a myopic focus on current marketing pixels and tracking data. Instead, we show that scaling a brand’s ability to learn about marketing’s impact directly from their customers, through scientific marketing experiments, provides a better foundation for identifying and optimizing effective tactics.
Rogers: There are three key messages I want to make sure we communicate:
Business First: Do not expect a CDP or any data project which is not perfectly aligned with the company strategic goals to have any ROI. Being technology-led can often limit adoption, overall value, executive support of long-term investment, and competitiveness.
Customer Centricity: Whatever a brand chooses to set up should be a value driver for the customer. The more you know about how a customer behaves (and will behave) the better you can serve them, and that should be a primary focus.
Change Management: The human aspect is as important as the analytics. The promise of technology, especially in the marketing field, will always be unmet without a good adoption plan to implement change and increase returns.
Both of your companies are in the AI universe, but what about the human element?
Affinito: Whether AI is replacing or augmenting people is a constant conversation. For some areas that have tight mathematical optimization models like marketplace bids, AI approaches have matured to the point where most marketers are happy to stop doing their hourly Excel pivot tables and leave it to algorithms to make economic adjustments in real time.
In other areas, like optimizing media and creative strategy across channels for specific products and audiences, too many dynamics exist in consumer behavior and media usage for AI to currently act as more than an advisor or signal processor to highlight key areas for the human team. Our eyes remain wide open, always considering which decisions we should hand over to the machines, taking great care to consider unintended network effects or the scalability of bad software.
Rogers: AI and advanced analytics are enablers of improving performance, but ultimately, they are just tools. A data platform is a powerful tool, but it is exponentially more powerful when it is working in synergy with the direct application of sophisticated thinking to produce novel insights and strategic planning. In our work, the human part is in who we are, how we work, and in what we deliver.
What’s the first concert you ever attended?
Affinito: Seeing Suzanne Vega play live at a coffeehouse here in New York City in the late ’80s. I was in college in New Jersey at the time, and after I accidentally stumbled upon her playing live one evening, I took the train into NYC for the rest of the week to watch her acoustic technique. I still get shivers remembering her delivery after all these decades!
Rogers: I will win this question. My first concert was Young MC opening for Milli Vanilli. I was only around 11, so I couldn’t stay for the whole time, but I did see Milli Vanilli do some sort of sword ritual with an audience member they brought on stage. I promise I was there for Young MC. Beat that!
Note: Interviews were conducted separately.