Film by O.E. Goebel

IT’S NOT THE ANSWERS, BUT THE QUESTIONS

On the surface the goal of my Hyper Island Industry Research Project, is to discover whether new techniques of data analysis can lead to better insights which may guide the creation of more effective advertising campaigns. But as I dig a little deeper, the heart of my project is beginning to feel more about discovering insights that will reveal ‘why’ people are behaving the way they do with technology, rather than just discovering how technology might be used as a tool for advertising.

So as things began in earnest, my first challenge was knowing where to start.

The first step in helping me do this was by ‘scoping’ my topic down. Broadly speaking my project’s main subject is data. But from my limited perspective, the subject of data to me felt as large as the known universe.

So much like using a telescope, I focused not on the universe of data itself, but on trying to find a point of reference, in my case it was the subject of data analysis within advertising.

Again this is anything but a small topic and I found it feeling almost planetary in perspective. But by continually scoping my subject down, I was able to metaphorically focus on looking for a continent within the planet, before finally being able to pick out some clearly identifiable landmarks.

In the end, the subject matter I felt I could clearly distinguish and focus on was the way data analysis is being used around the strategic planning of campaigns in the marketing industry.

This will form the basis of my research and my starting point, because only once I understand how data is currently influencing marketing strategies can I assess the methodologies being employed and their effectiveness at helping formulate insights that will provide the foundation for effective campaigns.

However, despite having a clearly defined subject to research, I found that coming across the answers that I was hoping would guide my project, wasn’t as forthcoming as I expected them to be.

My main challenge has been the fact that most industry studies or research journals don’t accurately reflect the exact problems I’m seeking answers for.

So I soon began to discover that the answers I sought weren’t exactly making things easy for me by standing out and making themselves known. But they were there. What I quickly learnt was that the answers only revealed themselves once I was very clear about exactly what I was looking for.

Once I knew how to ask the right questions of the research from my own projects’ perspective, did the answers I was seeking begin to reveal themselves.

For my research findings, it was the questions not the answers that were important.

Along the process, I also learnt that it was important to have an open mind and be ready to absorb as much learning as possible, so that I could identify the key points for and against my project’s overall arguments.

Through secondary research from journals and primary research within my agency, I was able to identify one of the key roles that big data analysis currently plays in influencing advertising and marketing strategies.

One of the key uses for data is focused mainly on guiding the clients decisions on the type of media strategy they should implement for executing their campaign successfully (regarding effective returns on advertising dollar-spend); rather than on actually defining the campaign’s content and strategy.

What this means is that data plays more of an executional role in guiding the way advertising reaches consumers, rather than guiding the campaign strategy itself and therefore the quality of the content that might be created for consumers.

Which all leads to the assumption that data analysis in advertising is still currently more functional and quantitative in nature rather than more qualitative and emotive.

Therefore, it feels to me that data use in advertising is still based more about the ‘what’ people are doing rather than the ‘why’ they are doing it.

So it appears there is still room for data analysis to play a guiding role in providing insights into people’s behaviour so that the ‘why’ can be better understood and so that strategies can be designed to be more relevant and emotionally engaging for people.

I will now try to deep dive further into more research and tests about the potential for data being used to help identify more emotive and behavioural insights; and try to scope my questions down even further in the hope of them better guiding me to discover all the answers I will need to fulfil my project’s goal.