Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 25 October 2017


Data-driven insights are fuelling an exciting new age of marketing communication, said participants at WKW Engage Conference 2017.

Ms Angeline Poh, Assistant Chief Executive (Industry Development) of IMDA, talked about the opportunities for innovation in today's digital age. (Image credit: WKW Engage)


By Francis Kan


When you fire up your Spotify app after lunch, you’ll be offered a playlist of upbeat music just when you need a pick-me-up to get you through the rest of the workday.


Platforms like Spotify can now target their audiences with pinpoint accuracy, engaging them with the right message, at the right time and in the right place, thanks to powerful data analytics tools.


Yet, today's data-fuelled frenzy has to be tempered with a dose of empathy and creativity to ensure that messages are relevant and connects with a person on an emotional level, speakers at the WKW Engage Conference 2017 said. The annual event that explored the theme of "Harnessing Technology in Communication" was held on 31 August at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.    


"Data-driven marketing often lacks creativity. It is always the same message, and even if it is targeted it will be boring and as such ineffective," said Django Weisz Blanchetta (right), the Managing Director of Amsterdam and New York-based advertising agency SuperHeroes, whose stated mission is save "the world from boring advertising."


He noted that consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble had cut more than US$100 million in ineffective digital ads without adversely having an impact on their business.


"A lot of people are doing insight-driven innovation just because the technology is there. But your ads also need to make an emotional connection using influencers or buzz to drive an online conversation," added Rogier Vijverberg, Executive Creative Director at SuperHeroes.


IMpact highlights some of the other insights that emerged from the conference.


The long idea trumps the big idea


SuperHeroes argued that the "long idea" is more effective than advertising's traditional pursuit of the big idea. This means building a series of sequential messages – whether a six-second video or a sponsored article – to help walk a potential customer down a path that eventually leads to a purchase.


Every action taken on this journey is registered and will trigger a response that is tailored to that person. Using variation over repetition is key in this formula, according to Django.


An example of this is the agency’s series of advertisements for ASUS ZenFone Max. To showcase the phone’s long battery life, they filmed a rapper speaking as quickly as he can over his phone before the battery dies. This was done in different real-life settings, such as at supermarket or when ordering a pizza, to tell a series of compelling stories.


Right message, right time


Looking to discover some insights from residents of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, the team at music-streaming app Spotify discovered something unexpected.

The most popular artist being streamed by the trendsetters of the hipster neighbourhood was not some obscure indie band, but rather pop superstar Justin Bieber. "The music doesn't lie," said Joanna Wong (left), Head of Business Marketing (APAC) at Spotify.


The huge amount of data that Spotify gathers from its millions of users allows it to generate useful insights to inform product development and marketing campaigns. But getting the timing of the delivery correct is also critical to success.


"You have to know your audience, but you must also deliver messages at the right time. You don't want to serve alcohol messages while someone is doing yoga, even if you know that person drinks alcohol," Joanna added. For instance, as Halloween approaches, Spotify is featuring some of its influencers in horror-inspired make-up on the app.


Co-create content with your audience


Data analytics technology is also giving a leg-up to content creators such as filmmakers, who can generate insights to produce content that better engage their audiences, said Angeline Poh, Assistant Chief Executive (Industry Development) at the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).


Singapore-based online video platform Viddsee, for instance, utilises data and insights to grow its viewership and extend their reach to a new audience. Last year, it commissioned its first original film, Time, which was made using data-driven insights. The movie, directed by local fimmaker Daniel Yam,tells the story of a frustrated young mother who, over time, grows to appreciate the time she has with her young son. It premiered earlier this year on Mother's Day.


"The film garnered a million viewers within a week. It was beyond what we expected," said Ms Poh. Time was made under a sponsorship from the Singapore Film Commission, a division of IMDA.


To support content creators in Singapore, IMDA has also created a space, PIXEL Studios at one-north, where they can collaborate and share best practices as well as partner with large corporates such as Disney.


"There is a great value in building communities for content creators to experiment and tell their stories," said Ms Poh.


IMDA is now exploring the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality to tell better stories. Earlier this year, it worked with the National Day Parade organisers to provide 360-degree live streaming of the 2017 parade at the Changi Expo using VR technology.


Useful insights


Participants at the event found the insights provided by the expert speakers enlightening. "It was interesting to hear about how different companies such as Spotify are using new technologies in the way they communicate. We are witnessing some very innovative ways that technology is being harnessed for this purpose," said Kevin Seak, Senior Executive, Group Corporate Communications at the National Healthcare Group.


Meanwhile, Case Ong, the founder of software development firm Telematiq, was intrigued by the techniques SuperHeroes uses to build brand awareness.  "Advertising has changed so much; using the right technology and strategy, you can make an advertisement go viral."