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Unilever, Diageo and Sony buy into Havas pledge to settle creativity vs data debate

Unilever, Diageo and Sony are among a hatful of advertisers backing Havas’ pledge to demystify the art of fusing creativity and data following an internal restructure of its creative group, as it hopes to stimulate more contextually targeted ads.

The restructure takes shape as Helia, the entity that will be the face of the group’s data expertise across the US, Europe and China. Havas EHS and Havas Discovery have relaunched under the brand, which is named after the Greek word for Sun in an attempt to liken it to how data powers marketing.

Other agencies and markets will come on board later in the year in the hope of rapidly building on the division’s combined data-related revenue of over $70m. Growing pressure on senior marketers to untie cross-platform customer journeys has created new CRM revenue opportunities for agencies, which are also trying to stave off the advances of management consultants and technology players.

Unilver, Diageo, Sony, easyJet and Sony Playstation have backed Havas’ fledgling offering to come good.

They have been wooed by the promise of a real-time single customer view formed on the back of contextual data spanning different channels merged with first party data. It means marketers could conceivably understand the context of a person's life and the different brand interactions they have as opposed to the more siloed views currently employed.

For example, one brand, which could not be named, is using CRM to analyse a person’s purchase history so it can freeze the prices on certain items likely to change the next time they visit. Meanwhile, another unnamed advertiser is using technology to assess the dwell time on online ads, identifying what parts of the creative people spend the most time looking before tweaking in real-time.

Havas EHS Group chief executive Tash Whitmey, who is leading Helia, said the launch is reflective of marketers coming to terms with the need to consider contextual data not bound by channels to attain a complete view of the customer. The plethora of customer data is overwhelming brands with many not set up to internally to convert it into the inspiration to reach and identify an audience, she added.

“There was a time when we would gather lots of first party data and then clients would gather digital data but it would all be collated in channel silos,” added Whitmey. “That never gave a complete view of the customer. [Advertisers] knew who customers were on a digital channel but they never had the ability to link all that up in real-time so that at any point they can react to the pull of a customer rather than push messages.”

The offering will not connect to Facebook’s Atlas as accounts with Havas’ media arm are currently doing. However, it will likely feed it into the group’s wider efforts to create a more holistic data spanning all parts of the business.

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