You’ve got to have faith

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A decade or so ago there was a lot of talk about black box media solutions.  About how in the future there would be so much information and data about people that you wouldn’t really need strategists any more you would just plug everything into a big black box and the right answer would come out.

I got myself into a bit of trouble to be honest by being vociferous in my denial of this. 

Well here we are a decade later.  Google has turned teenager.  Google Analytics is on every planner’s desk.  There is much more information and data from many sources.  There are breakthroughs on the way in terms of linking ad consumption and sales which will make the old techniques of media implementation anachronistic.

Our ability to precision target and follow through is much greater than it was back then and it is about to get better still.  Is it time for the strategists to pack up and go home then – or retrain as data analysts?

Not yet.  Partly because the best black box analytics, and here in Holborn we do have the best, is not going to give you the whole answer yet, it has gaps still.  Partly because optimising into a sub optimal position is a watch out anyway. 

But mainly because when we do great work, we are usually coming up with ideas based on intuitive understanding of consumers.  Great strategies require faith in those ideas, and faith that they will work on a grand scale when executed well.  You can rarely test a step change of communication strategy, because the requirements of doing a controlled small scale test properly change the strategy itself.

We remember and celebrate successful strategies more than the failures of course.  But it is worth remembering too that almost all of them required a leap of faith.  And that the next good strategy will require faith  before proof is available.

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