How Data Comes Into Play at the Intersection of Media and Marketing

Pace of change should be embraced with authenticity

Adweek partnered with The Boston Consulting Group at Cannes to talk all things data in advertising. Sean T. Smith
Headshot of James Cooper

CANNES, France—As Cannes Lions neared its close Thursday evening, Adweek, with sponsor partner The Boston Consulting Group, hosted its final discussion on how data is helping to transform marketing and media strategies.

The group included Frank Einecke, managing director, media buying solutions for Google EMEMA; Martin Cass, CEO, MDC Media Partners and Assembly; Dominic Field, senior partner and managing director, The Boston Consulting Group and Kevin Gentzel, CRO, Gannett/USA Today Network.

As the sun set on the Promenade de la Croisette, the general consensus at Cannes this year was that the brand marketing ecosystem is intent on finding new partnership models to maintain trust with consumers.

And major change is indeed afoot. “How do we jointly learn about this new reality? I feel there is a real willingness to do that,” said Einecke. “It’s going to require radical collaboration,” added Gentzel, who also said that, at least from the publisher’s point of view, “we’ve ceded first-party data, and we need to reclaim that.”

In terms of macro shifts in the media space, Gentzel noted that “all of media is embracing much more of an engineer mentality” and that the speed and focus on product, which is so central to Silicon Valley innovation, needs to be adopted by media and marketing in order to keep pace with change. “We need to get really geeky about product that drives usage and overall satisfaction.”

"We try to be roughly right rather than precisely wrong."—Martin Cass, CEO, MDC Media Partners and Assembly

The discussion, led by Adweek editor Lisa Granatstein, focused on both the challenges and opportunities facing marketers and publishers. One of those pain points is GDPR and the pending California ballot on consumer privacy.

In the face of privacy regulations, we are “putting our readers at the center, and I feel that GDPR will start to drive a more thoughtful experience between media and its users,” said Gentzel.

“You can no longer reap tons of information off their vapor trail anymore,” said Cass.

Still, opportunities exist for brands that are willing to embrace change and the vast organizational shifts that have to happen within companies facing transformations in the data economy. “We are doing more work in marketing than we have ever done before,” said Field, who added that with more data and signal driving insights, we are able to “connect more meaningfully at scale with consumers.”

“Where is it and how on earth can I get it into one place and turn it into something useful. Because data without insight is pretty useless,” said Field.

There is also the risk of being overly distracted by the data storm, which can envelop companies trying to pivot quickly who are pervasive to meet challenges.

“We try to be roughly right rather than precisely wrong,” said Cass, who added, in the context of Cannes, that marketers not forget that creative can be the “killer blow” in achieving real connection to consumers.

@jcoopernyc James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek.