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Quaker Oats uses data to drive creative

Data is no longer just the thing that gets measured at the end of a campaign. It is redefining creative.

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Quaker Oats

Pepsi Co

The bots have arrived, and there was plenty of chatter at New York’s Advertising Week about whether artificial intelligence will replace the traditional marketer. Yet fearing technology, instead of embracing it, is a missed opportunity to enhance the creative process.

Data is no longer just the thing that gets measured at the end of a campaign, Jessica Spaulding, head of marketing at PepsiCo, said on a panel during last week’s conference. Instead, it’s redefining how the creative is produced.

“Data has changed the order of how we do things. Now we bring in data to fuel the creative element,” Spaulding said.

What data enables is the ability for a brand like PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats to tailor its marketing messages to specific audiences. At a recent shoot for the oatmeal brand, marketers created a 30-second ad, three 15-second spots, 15 five-second digital videos and motion images to use for social media – significantly more assets than the brand would have collected in the past.

The data informed how many ads to produce and how to target them.

“We needed so many assets because of the microsegments that we’re targeting. So, the variety of messages and the variety of imagery we had to collect became part of the media plan,” Spaulding told SmartBrief in an interview.

Spaulding offered three tips on using data in the creative process:

Creativity remains key. The fear many marketers have is that data and analytics will steamroll more creative aspects of marketing. But Spaulding said this feeling is unfounded, because consumers ultimately respond to messages that resonate — and that requires a human element.

“The basic need of humans is to be heard,” she said. “Data doesn’t replace the empathy or the great storytelling. Makers out there need to fill the pipe with things that are relevant, authentic and true.”

Use data sources in tandem. The type of data used matters, too. Spaulding says Pepsi Co collects first-party data about consumers, then uses second and third-party data sets to “connect the dots.”

“The combination of first, second and third-party data in your ultimate data set is so important,” she said. “It becomes more and more advantageous.”

Look beyond the data. But marketers using data should also be cautious not to become overly reliant on it. Each dataset has blind spots, and no amount of information can capture the entire “ecosystem of influencers” that inform a consumer’s decision to buy a product. Data can limit marketers if they are not willing to look beyond it and make creative risks.

“It’s easy to rely on the rearview mirror and proven ROI tactics,” Spaulding said. “You need to be able to take a risk.”

Ambreen Ali is an editor at SmartBrief.