Modern Marketing

Too much data, not enough people, says Omnicom CEO Jonathan Nelson

By Nesh Pillay | Reporter

February 3, 2015 | 4 min read

In an increasingly digital world, it’s important to remember the value of people, especially when it comes to interpreting data, said Jonathan Nelson, CEO of Omnicom digital at the 4A’s data summit earlier today.

“We have too much data, and not enough people,” Nelson said during his keynote address.

While data gathering is now fairly straightforward, the statistics are useless without the right people to apply them to the real world.

“The reality is that synthesizing the data and having people interpret it and finding something that’s relevant inside there is quite hard and that usually takes people to do it,” said Nelson.

Nelson referred specifically to Omnicom’s partnership with Facebook that centers around “people-based marketing.” He said the aim is to provide solid information about users, without revealing their identities.

“We put the right thing, in front of the right people, at the right time, on the right device,” he said.

He added that traditional data collection, specifically demographics, are only the beginning of the information needed to truly tailor services to a consumer.

“Those are the top of the hierarchy – male, female, student. Demographic profiles are part of it. But very quickly you start to go to psychographic profiles, or life stage things,” Nelson said.

“So if you just got engaged, that’s a big deal. It’s going to change your life. You’re going to create a new life and so what happens from a commercial point of view is you’ll move, change bank accounts, you may look at kids,” he added. “We want, where appropriate, to help you out and let you know what the available services and products are.”

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Nelson said it’s still possible to market without psychographic profiles, but the results are far less desirable.

“The alternative is the lowest common denominator Viagra ads or stuff that’s completely irrelevant," he said. “I, (the consumer) can always tune it out, but it’s amazing how much more I click on stuff that I’m interested.”

While hyper-targeted advertisements can be intimidating, Nelson said users can take comfort knowing that most agencies keep consumer identities private.

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