This article was first published in the September edition of Media Pulse – Omnicom Media Group’s monthly highlights on relevant media insights, intelligence and trends.
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Finally, data is cool again. We’re in the midst of an advertising renaissance and we all have Big Data to thank or, more specifically, granular data that’s making ads better, faster, and smarter. Imagine a world in which your iPhone only shows you ads for products you can afford, and your GPS system already knows where you’re going, because you read about it on your tablet. Well we’re already there.

In today’s marketing climate it’s no longer enough to have a killer creative. In fact, creative’s on its way to becoming secondary as data takes over. Think about it: less “wasted” impressions means greater ROI and happier consumers. So, where’s all this data coming from, anyway? Increasingly, people are willing to voluntarily part with their data for higher levels of convenience and better targeted ads. Whether you’re a behind the times or an early adopter, you can no longer escape the constant harvesting of data that’s connecting our world. But as Rich Sullivan recently said for Medium, “… rapid advances in technology are making advertising appreciably smarter.”

Indeed, the rise of “smart cities” begs the question: what will advertisers do with all this data? Targeting fast food ads to customers with a known penchant for late night binges is one example, but what about more two-sided exchanges? Target recently installed a series of beacons in 50 stores designed to monitor shoppers’ movement through the stores and send them hyper-targeted ads, with permission of course. The Bluetooth-enabled beacons not only send out real-time ads that consumers might actually want to see (Need shampoo? It’s just one aisle over!), they actively collect more data simultaneously to help the brand better understand how shoppers navigate the store. Think of it as a mutually beneficial continuous data loop.

We’re all creating data points wherever we go. Advertisers want to know where we shop, how we get there, what kind of breakfast we ate, and what our plans are for next Saturday night. Trick is, if they can figure out how to effectively use the overwhelming amount of data being mined by thousands of sources, ads might just become less noisy. Will the creative cease to matter? Of course not—ads will still only work if they’re relatable—but, “Where’s the Beef?” may become secondary to, “Does the consumer regularly eat beef and if so, which cut?” Once the public trusts marketing to be relevant, timely, and targeted, they might listen harder and more readily give up valuable information to perpetuate the cycle. There’s that loop again… ad nauseum.