The future: the Draper and the data

In only a few short years, digital has quickly risen to become the third largest media investment for advertisers in New Zealand. This rapid growth means that almost every day, we in the industry are exposed to some degree of hypothesising on what the future holds for digital advertising. It’s a continually evolving conversation that is undeniably interesting and sometimes quite exhausting, such is the multitude of possibilities and the rate at which we seem to be approaching them.

For those of us involved in the strategy and planning of digital media, we are currently experiencing a seismic shift in modus operandi with the advent of the ‘automation era’, or for the less dramatically inclined, the demand side platform (DSP) and the audience management platform (AMP).

The DSP gives marketers a single interface to manage their campaigns across multiple publisher sources, plugging into online ad-exchanges and bidding on ad-space in real-time. The AMP, in short, is an audience data house containing numeric gold that informs pinpoint and tailored creative optimisation. Our most transparent, targeted and accountable medium continues to become even more so.

This new age of automation, immediacy and data will change things quite profoundly, setting an even higher priority on efficiencies and return that may challenge, or at least re-shape, the function of big creative ideas in the digital space. Herein lies a future hurdle for the industry: championing the ‘Draper’ in a world mad for data.

Data is logic, and a cold hard truth. But Draper sees what data cannot, an eye into the mind and a finger on the pulse of society and sentiment. Draper is innovation and ‘the idea’ and data can make or break it. The successful marriage of these two is not something that will happen easily, in fact it will cause some tension, but the publishers and agencies that can do it well will be at the forefront of the industry.

A great article by Adam Cahill I came across earlier this year discusses this contrast in a little more detail, and in particular, how it will shape the personnel of the industry. Just as it is beginning to offshore, the future of digital advertising in New Zealand will be informed by the emergence of the two key groups of people that Cahill refers to as ‘the math’ and ‘the magic’.

Digital will have these two groups of people at its core and the most successful firms will use the distinct talents of each to weave together campaigns that harness a great idea as the platform and make it even greater with math. This may seem quite straightforward, even obvious, but it will take some time to get right. The high quality of work coming out of New Zealand makes it clear we’re no slouch when it comes to producing the magic. It will be a road of bumps and bridges, but ultimately I’m confident the industry will show it is ready to embrace the data alongside the Drapers and continue to punch above its weight.

  • Brendan Hewitt was one of two winners of Yahoo! New Zealand’s inaugural Digital Stars programme and will be attending Ad:Tech in Sydney next year. He is a digital planner/buyer at PHDiQ and has been there for almost three years. 

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