Explore the best creative works

Man, machine and data: the winning trio for marketers

The three musketeers

They say all good things come in threes. Three musketeers. Three little pigs. Third time’s a charm. And the power of three has made itself known in adtech, too.

Our top trio is without doubt the union of man, machine and data. Together, they form a powerful symbiosis much greater than the sum of its parts. Machines, fueled by punchy, top quality data, do the heavy lifting – they excel at heavy number crunching tasks that humans just can’t stretch to. But humans bring intuition and oversight on how best to put these tools to work, mastering strategic, long-term thinking and maximizing results.

This means marketers looking to get the best out of the latest developments in the tech industry need to take a bit of time to get to grips with how every part of the trio can work to its strengths. Here are a few tips on how you can do just that.


In the union of man and machine, us humans take all the responsibility. But fear not – for marketers, that needn’t mean more work. In fact, it likely means substantially less.

The advent of machines and data means your role as a human is no longer to do everything, twice as fast. With more and more tools at your disposal, it’s up to you to do what you like – and delegate what you don’t – as you see fit, and as you figure out what works best.

To this end, simple systems with clear measurement tools will be invaluable when delving into the world of AI. You don’t need to see all the nuts, guts and bolts – you need solid takeaways on what works and what doesn’t, and tips to make it better and maximize ROI. A trusted tech partner will really make all the difference here – The Trade Desk’s AI tool Koa, for example, brings actionable insights on nine million impression opportunities every second, whilst our planner provides real-time recommendations based on these insights.

But don’t let all the ones and zeros in your flashy new tech distract you from what you’re actually doing. Tech doesn’t achieve its full potential if you don’t use your own ‘data points’ – that is, your brain. Though the data available nowadays is limitless, make sure the way you’re using it makes sense, and that any data use or targeting matches consumer appetite.

A quick rule of thumb here is to remember that you yourself are a consumer. If you wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end of your campaign, and it doesn’t help your target audience – chances are, it’s not the right idea.


Machines have liberated us from the grinding dullness of menial tasks like rote data collection and processing. AI is set to further optimize those mind-numbing tasks – meaning buckets of saved time to spend on more exciting things that humans ultimately do better.

But that doesn’t mean you should jump right in and buy the most expensive and complicated AI tool, expecting it to fix all your problems and optimize everything at once. Nor does it mean you should be using the same tool for everything, all the time. AI-powered tools are designed for specific purposes and using them outside of their remit means wasted time and money – and, most likely, poor results.

Don’t be afraid to go ahead and get testing, but to guarantee you’re always using the right tech at the right time, make sure you always have a goal to work towards and a clear set of steps and parameters on how you’ll reach that goal. Then you can work out how – or if – AI will help. And if it doesn’t, don’t use it. Whatever you do – never use technology for the sake of it.


Data is the lifeblood of the industry. Without it, the advertising ecosystem simply wouldn’t exist in the format it does today. But given how much we rely on data, that makes it all the more important that we keep it in tip-top shape.

Clean and balanced data is fit fuel for hungry number crunching machines. This might sound odd – but think of your AI like a cow. If you want the best organic milk or meat, your cow needs to graze on the very best grass out there.

But machines – like dopey cows – don’t necessarily know what’s best for them. We need a bit of human wherewithal to tend the data points and ensure only the best gets through. You’ll also need to vet results and quality control where necessary to keep the output at grade-A quality.

At the end of the day, there’s no point pouring money into making machines fancier and smarter if what we feed them is poor quality. We depend on our machines but they need us to look out for them, too.

Getting the most out of AI doesn’t need to be a trial – it’s just a question of harnessing the existing relationship between man and machine. For marketers, that means staying au fait with the latest tech, being vigilant with your data and using your loaf to amend your strategy as necessary.

As with any relationship, you’re in it for the long-haul – the best campaigns go with the flow, changing and adapting in response to the latest data. But if you can put some of these tips into practice and, make sure you’re using each element of the adtech trifecta in the best possible way, you need only connect the dots to come up with a campaign that really works.

Sebastian Gutierrez, senior director of marketing, EMEA, The Trade Desk

Tel: +44 (0) 203 826 7105

Email: sales@thetradedesk.com

Web: www.thetradedesk.com

Twitter: @TheTradeDeskInc

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy