by Joey Khuvutlu (@Digital_Darkie) In 2019, the industry has to prioritise delivering on the ‘grand promise’ of data-driven creative ideas and business solutions.

Too few examples

There are too few examples of where data has been used to reveal customer pain points and unmet needs, predicted consumer behaviour and, ultimately, creatively solved business problems. In addition, our post-campaign analysis remains largely focused on campaign reach and various brand engagement metrics with little emphasis on data, such as lead generation and conversion rates.

For the past two years, I have judged various categories at Loeries. Digital Interactive has provided a front-row view of what is collectively deemed as the best work across various digital categories — Data-Driven Campaign, however, not so much. On the face of it, it seems an unnecessary and strange one to have, because all digital output is inherently data-driven or data-informed in some shape or the other. That said, the category plays a valuable role, because it provides insights into how agencies are engaging and using data to build brands.

Opportunities in other phases

In two years of judging, I’ve seen much work that showcases the data used to garner insights and inform a communication idea. Agencies also tend to use limited data sources with a focus on solving for campaigns in the awareness phase of the purchase funnel, when there are opportunities in other phases.

According to a study by McKinsey released at Cannes Lions, the blend of data and creative thinking is likely going to be what helps business grow their revenues at 10% a year, twice the average rate of S&P 500 firms. The volume, velocity and variety of data will only continue to grow. Agencies need to widen their data sets and deepen their data analytics capabilities to find new opportunities for creative problem-solving.


Agencies need to invest in the skills, technology and partnerships that will empower them to play with data. They need to overlay social, search, website analytics, CRM analytics, call-centre analytics, sales performance and various third-party data. By experimenting with new and broader sets of data, we will explore new opportunities to drive business and add value to consumers’ lives in meaningful ways.

The task, however, is not a one-sided endeavour. Brands and their owners and custodians must come to the party. Importantly, they need to grant agencies access to more of their business data and to facilitate the sharing of data between their various service providers. The data function should be considered as an always-on service that isn’t limited to campaign bursts.


The need for the specialised skills of business and data analysts and data scientists has never been more necessary. Together, agency and brands need to co-invest to truly unlock the much-talked-about yet illusive promises of big data to drive business growth and deliver innovation.

See also


MarkLives logo What are the industry expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2019? Kicking off our “Big Q” column for the year, a panel of key agency and marketing executives discusses the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for in the year ahead.

Joey Khuvutlu (@Digital_Darkie) is MD of Hellocomputer Joburg, an award-winning digital agency that is part of FCB Africa. He is also currently head of the IAB Education Council, focused on linking digital industry, educational institutions and learners in order to continuously empower current digital professionals, prepare the industry’s future workforce and drive sustainable transformation. A creative industries entrepreneur, Joey previously founded three boutique agencies operating in the brand-design and digital brand-activations space.

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