‘Data in Motion’ Applies to Marketers Too
A few weeks ago, I found myself reading Confluent’s S-1 as they prepared for their IPO. It’s a fascinating read in general, but I was struck by a couple of points in particular. First, I love their framing of “Data in Motion”, and the idea that data itself is not inherently valuable. Rather, data becomes valuable when it is used to make some business change that alters the fortunes of that business.
This is a common refrain within the halls of VidMob, as we have been preaching this very point for a few years now. Apologies to my co-workers who have already heard me say this 50,000 times, but when it comes to your business, data whose purpose is to be “interesting” or “informative” alone is not much more than a waste of your time. The problem is that creating an organizational structure and technology stack that allows for the continuous actioning of data is quite difficult.
From the Confluent S-1:
“However, in order to complete this transition, another fundamental wave is required. The operation of the business needs to happen in real-time and cut across infrastructure silos. Organizations can no longer have disconnected applications around the edges of their business with piles of data stored and siloed in separate databases. These sources of data need to integrate in real-time in order to be relevant, and applications need to be able to react continuously to everything happening in the business as it occurs. To accomplish this, businesses need data infrastructure that provides connectivity across the entire organization with real-time flow and processing of data, and the ability to build applications that react and respond to that data flow. As companies increasingly become software, they need a central nervous system that connects all of their disparate software systems, unifying their business and enabling them to react intelligently in real-time.
Because of this, we believe that it is no longer enough for an organization to innovate based on the current paradigm of capturing data, storing it, and then querying or analyzing it. Organizations need a strategy, and a foundational data platform, to operate their business in real-time based on data as it is being generated in the moment. This idea of “data in motion” is at least as critical to the operations of a company as “data at rest,” and we believe the new generation of winning organizations will be defined by their ability to take action on it. Traditional database technologies were not designed for data in motion, but architected for stored data at rest. Despite significant developments in the scalability and speed of analysis in both traditional and more modern databases (such as NoSQL, time-series, and graph databases), they remain limited to data-at-rest use cases and cannot harness data in motion. The leading open source offering for data in motion, Apache Kafka, was originally created by our founders at LinkedIn in 2011 and brought to the mainstream a new paradigm of data processing. However, this was only the beginning. Confluent was founded to create a product that could make data in motion the central nervous system of every company in the world.”
I’m sure they were not thinking of the creative industry when they wrote this, but the parallels are unmistakable. And this gets me to the second point that resonated – the idea that both technological and operational silos need to be broken down in order to meet the moment. That said, getting to “data in motion” in marketing and creative operations may be even more difficult than other areas of the enterprise, given a global landscape that saw creative capabilities and media/data capabilities split apart in the mid 90’s as part of the Great Unbundling, and that remains that way to this day.
But this is changing.
Both in our work directly with marketers and in collaboration with our growing number of partner agencies, VidMob is providing the underlying software layer to help put data in motion in the creative world. With this in mind, it’s easy to take some of the key sentences from the above excerpt, and swap a couple of words to see how well the root concept aligns with VidMob’s view of the world:
…Traditional agencies and marketing teams were not designed for Intelligent Creativity, but architected for stored creativity, uninformed and at rest.
…However, this is only the beginning. VidMob was founded to bring data and creativity together into a unified platform, serving as the operating system for Intelligent Creativity for every company in the world.
Confluent’s view that “organizations can no longer have disconnected applications around the edges of their business with piles of data stored and siloed in separate databases” seems to map almost perfectly to our view that marketing organizations can no longer have disconnected creative and media teams, siloed away from valuable data and fundamentally incapable of continuously developing data-informed content tailored to and optimized for every channel on which they communicate.
It’s not an easy transition, as it requires both organizational change and technology change. The second part is key but often overlooked as a lot of recent moves towards in-housing (or in-sourcing) models have simply focused on moving bodies around. Make no mistake about it – this is not enough. Taking 300 people from your agency and hiring them directly (or through an in-sourcing firm) does nothing to address the opportunity of putting creative data in motion to enter the era of Intelligent Creative.
It seems almost too obvious to say, but achieving the scale, efficiency, and performance benefits of technological change is not possible without the technology piece. As obvious as this sounds, many businesses are taking the half-step of an easy solution that feels familiar given their prior ways of working and hoping for a miracle that is unlikely to come.
Here’s the thing, though – there isn’t really a choice. As changing views on privacy push us faster and faster down a path towards a cookie-less world, the elimination of access to the IDFA and other identifiers, and the general deterioration of targeting capabilities, creative is simply going to have to work harder. On every channel. Hoping to solve the challenges of this emergent reality with yesterday’s systems or the same automation tools as everyone else making similar-looking content to everyone else is not a recipe for success.
But moments like this are a time for success. Because with changes this fundamental, enormous opportunities are created for forward-thinking marketers to lap their obdurate peers. I was thrilled that the programmers of this year’s Cannes Lions festival emphasized the importance of this moment and asked us to produce a film on the impact of Intelligent Creative. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see it, it’s a great excuse to subscribe to the Cannes Live programming, which is now all available to members online and on-demand. The marketing world is changing faster than ever, and moments like this can catapult businesses forward into leads that offer years of residual benefits. Why not make this your opportunity?