The Women in Analytics Group May 22 event focused on “The New Researcher.” The program covered two aspects of evolution required to navigate the changing ecosystem successfully:
- Business: How to organize your team to meet new demands
- Personal: What leadership skills are needed to succeed and ways to develop them
Four speakers each shared a unique angle:
Tracey Scheppach – CEO + Co-Founder, Matter More Media
Tracey talked about the need to build a successful team to reflect today’s realities and insights, as well as the individual skills required and how to develop them.
She outlined three key steps to tackle both angles:
- Step 1: Ask “why” (where’s the pain coming from?)
- Step 2: Build a business model around “why”
- Step 3: Create a story around “why” and sell it passionately
What are some examples?
- In her role heading the Video Innovation Group from 2005-2013 at Starcom/SMG, Tracey was asked to build a practice to lead video innovation. She knew she needed to build a business, get her salary covered, and sustain a team. Taking into account the three key steps, she did the following:
- Ask “why”: Tracey visited with all the teams and vendors to understand what they were struggling with in terms of innovation.
- Build a business model around “why”: She then met with myriad clients to sell them on the importance of video innovation. For example, with Kellogg’s she explained how rapidly television was changing and that soon viewers would watch shows on their phones.
- Create a story around “why” and sell it passionately: Tracey told clients the story about how Kodak failed to imagine Instagram and how Tower Records failed to recognize Spotify. If clients didn’t innovate and change, they, too, would fall behind.
Tracey’s most poignant example was a personal one. She received a call six years ago no parent should ever hear: “your child has cancer.” After the initial shock she applied the three steps:
- She understood where the pain was coming from and made a decision at that point – she was going to be the one to overcome and lead the way.
- She started a 501c3 to support children’s cancer research via the Chicago triathlon.
- She built her story around “why” and sold it passionately and has received more than $1 million in donations. People want to channel positive when something negative is happening.
Jennifer Pelino – SVP, Omni Channel Media, IRI
Jennifer spoke about the challenges of building a new team at IRI to accelerate in-market growth.
She detailed four key parts that fostered success: merging, building, developing, and refining.
- Merging teams requires assessment, clarity, support, and strategy development. You need a set of questions for planning talent that includes current skills/competencies, gaps, and talent growth priorities. The executives leading the charge should:
- Assess skill levels, know gaps, and articulate needs. Be very specific on what both technical and behavioral skills are needed going forward and use them as building blocks.
- Support and educate the team, ensuring a safe learning environment. For example, training sessions should allow sharing concerns without fear of reprisal.
- 2. To build a high performance team, be vulnerable and share your story – personal priorities, beliefs, work style, and personal development. Set clear expectations about interactions.
3. To develop —and implement — a new plan demands that you have a focused organization. Articulate a clear vision, operating protocols, and leadership skill requirements.
4. Refine your plan by always challenging yourself to make a difference: provide support and mentoring. The result? Team participation increases; strategic level thinking is predominate; and speed to decisions is faster.
Emma Pop – EVP, Director Solution Architect Team, Starcom
Emma talked about the need for people with technical and qualitative skillsets to build “the ultimate organizational house.”
The historical dichotomy of skillsets and teams has been equally divided between research and analytics. But the explosion of tech and data has tipped the balance towards data: there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users and 50 billion smart connected devices in the world by 2020.
Looking forward, the pendulum is swinging in a different direction: GDPR, CCPA, ITP and Chrome all require a multi-faceted skillset for future applications.
She detailed three considerations for organizing talent:
- Inclusion of planners & builders – have some team members just focused on the future: planners who create roadmaps that allow for all of the pieces to come together, in addition to the builders who will implement the vision.
- Ownership throughout the data continuum – encourage accountability; create a feeling of responsibility and pride to see what research has proved; and start to own connections to other practices.
- Breaking down silos for growth – Starcom realized that each area was doing its little bit (e.g.. ad trafficking, analytics, research, reporting, etc.) to foster growth. However, it took initiative to bring all practices together and cross-pollinate them to get to the next level.
The result of incorporating all three: more new ideas and more business value were generated.
Traci Smith – SVP, Client Service, Kantar
Traci covered the implications of change and need for diversity with concrete suggestions.
Today’s advertising world is much different than yesterday’s…. in more ways than one. That means it’s now a different world for insights.
Today’s researchers, therefore, need to know a lot more and behave differently than ever before. They need to be able to dive deep into insights, but also stay agile with an ability to pull together different tools.
Neuroscience, behavioral science, AI, and emotion are part of the toolkit. AI is the one Traci has seen get the most coverage and excitement. The new researcher needs to know how AI can be applied and how to deploy it effectively. That being said, the new researcher also needs to understand what AI can’t do yet – like build an ad.
The skills that researchers need go beyond being nimble and embracing new technology. New researchers also need to push – as well as to observe and understand – culture and societal progression. Gender is a sensitive topic, one that society is currently renegotiating across social, cultural, political, and commercial spheres. The industry should, therefore, be more aware than ever that things need to change.
Beyond the industry PR headlines and some award-winning campaigns there are big questions:
- How does a typical brand manager, media manager, or advertising creative manager actually go about making gender progress?
- In today’s world, what does progressive representation actually mean?
- Does an average laundry detergent, chocolate brand, or financial services supplier really need to take a stand for gender equality? Or, is there just as much potential downside and social media backlash waiting for missteps from brands trying too hard to jump on the latest politically correct bandwagon?
- Does the social complexity of the issue leave marketers paralyzed by fear and stuck in limbo?
Emotional tonality in advertising needs to change, but how? Current advertising seems to perpetuate stereotypes in how male and female characters are perceived. Not all content will want to generate all types of emotional response. It seems ads featuring only women could generate more excitement, pride, and surprise, while ads featuring prominent men could improve affection and attraction. It also seems the industry finds it harder to inspire and make consumers feel confident when using both genders.
- Technology enables us to be smarter than we ever have been. We have to embrace it, but don’t rely solely on it.
- Gender portrayal in advertising is one of the ways we can connect to society. Make sure we’re challenging and benchmarking ourselves appropriately.