Future-proof marketing : Pillar 2 "Data"

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This is the second of “6 Pillars of future-proofed marketing - Data” - part of the effective marketing in the 4th Industrial revolution series.

This is an interdisciplinary series of blogs but the focus of this is very much on data. We are living in the “age of surveillance”, where I can understand know your personality better than your psychiatrist by conducting a 30 second social scrape. It’s the first thing I do for new or prospective clients, to show them how insanely accurate it is. Most clients receive this information understanding how essential it is to know what kind of data that is out there. Its always an interesting exercise to do as it illustrates, in a very personal way, how this type of data, when used at scale could swing elections, undermine Democracy and can be used in marketing.

Basically, if I have 10,000 of your words on social I really do know your personality with astonishing accuracy - challenge me on it - send me your name and I will enrich your data and hit you back with a personality profile. This is separate from the ethics about if it should exist and be able to used in the first place - more on that later…

The Sun Newspaper - August 12th 2019

The Sun Newspaper - August 12th 2019

Beyond the amount of personal data I can source and the insights that can give - at scale - is the big data situation we find ourselves in, with areas of unregulated social / data enabling those with ill intent to manipulate society en mass, and in Pillar 1 “Purpose” I spelt out and showed the source documents that illustrate exactly what Russia has done to effect our opinions and Democracy - which as you will see is extremely important o understand as a marketer..

In the last couple of years I have been speaking about this, most people dont know - or dont want to know, the depth and effect that this manipulation has had on our society - and as a result will have on the marketing industry.Understanding this has been a central component of my future-proof marketing workshops and with the advent of shows like Netflix “the Great Hack”, which showed how data was used to help Trump and Brexit win their campaigns, the awareness is increasing and the desire to understand it has grown.

However, this surveillance is only one side of the story, the other side of the story is the growing power of the data privacy movement – and this battle has only just begun and will be of utmost importance to marketers.

U.S Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warrens rallying cry to “Break-up big tech” #breakupbigtech

U.S Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warrens rallying cry to “Break-up big tech” #breakupbigtech


Marketing has become mainly about understanding data and (with some psychology and intuition thrown in), but the importance of the data element, with the coming ubiquity of Machine Learning and the beyond human insights they deliver is set to become ever more entrenched.

IBM came up with a term last year called the “Martecheters” – marketers who are a hybrid of marketing and technology skills – this is where we all marketing is going as our experiences and interactions become more integrated, online and virtual.

 Good marketing consists of obtaining the best data and then knowing how to interpret and create comms and use the right platforms where the audience lives, talking about the things they love, showing the content they are interested in.

However, since the advent of modern Machine Learning, specifically the Neural Networks of Geoffrey Hinton, the speed of marketing tool development has gone through the roof, and it has almost been impossible for marketing Directors and agencies to keep up, infact its an entirely new skill set. Understanding what Machine Learning and AI can do in terms of clustering, predicting and communicating, is an area of expertise that continues to grow and will not stop. I studied machine Learning at MIT and the insights this has given me to lift the veil and develop an understanding of what is possible is a significant advantage - you simply don’t know what you don’t know.. and I encourage all marketers to do a Machine Learning this, it’s the kind of knowledge all marketers will need. 

But this is against a backdrop of data becoming privatised, which will create some serious barriers to obtaining and using data and effect brands significantly, but what is the data privacy movement?

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The U.S 2020 election is seeing big tech attacked from both sides, from the left, its Democrat Elizabeth Warren pushing for their break-up, and from the right its Trumps Anti Trust investigation into Big tech.

I don’t think Big Tech will be broken up, but I do think the current political mood will accelerate the privatisation of consumer data and have it become law that data is owned by the Consumer again - there is even talk of tieing it into a charter of human rights.

But what does “becoming privatised” mean, it means all data about you, will be owned by you, not corporates, and any data they have on you wont be able to be sold on without your consent and earning from it.

The realisation of how nefariously data has been used, plus political will, will precipitate a complete shift in data collection and use, with the final piece of the puzzle being blockchain, as it enables us to have all our data tagged and placed on a ledger as owned by us, enabling us to rent all of it out.


Check out data coup - right now they will tag and rent out your data for you - go to www.datacoup.com this kind of service will grow exponentially within the next 4 years and become pretty much standard for everyone inside ten.

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Platforms like Facebook will still have the data but they wont be able to sell it on, and there will be limits to how they can use it. This is a big deal, it means corporates wont be able to just suck in big data and use it as freely as they wish..so how does a brand protect itself against this data provision apocalypse?


Something we have been advising clients to do for the last couple of years is create your own social platforms, where you own the data, and use that to give a better experience, goods and services to your consumers – that’s how it should be really anyway. This should be activated - right now – along with creating a WhastApp business Broadcast strategy.

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We have some great tech platforms where we can drag and drop functionality to to help you create your own platforms. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds, we can basically make facebook functionality for you in about a month, but keep the data private – as it should be. All research shows that consumers do not mind you using their data if you improve their personalisation and service as a result and don’t sell the data on.

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Ontop of this you need a WhataApp broadcast strategy. WhatsApp will become a dominant trading platform, Zuck is ensuring it becomes like a WeChat, where we all buy and sell goods and services through it – every day. WeChat in China already does 50% of its financial transactions. Zucks launched his crypto currency and wallet and he wants it up and running by mid next year….

When this happens every brand in the world will run to be on WhastApp – so do it now instead and dominate your category and niche.

Now, onto the types of data..


As Alec Ross, author of The Industries of the Future and member of Julius Baer’s Global Advisory Board, says,  “The last trillion-dollar industry was made out of computer code. The next one will be made of genetic code”.

A Neuralink chip- Image Neuralink

A Neuralink chip- Image Neuralink

There will be data on EVERYTHING – and brands will have the option to have access t it - for a price, and with permission. For the purposes of 4IR Marketing however, the data im focusing on comes from wearable and Insertables.

The reality is that most large brands are not using data to inform their new product development or understand audience insights, but that is really only step one area of data focus

But what the hell is an insertables? 

See that chip above, that’s from Elon Musks Neuralink, four of those are inserted in your brain with ultra think probes, they read your neuron activity spikes and enable you to control a mouse keyboard and i-phone app.

Neuralink phone app visual

Neuralink phone app visual

Imagine the data you could get for that. Data will become privatised anyway - the legislation is coming - but brands that create tools that give value to the user in return for the information from the insertable will dominate their categories, or brands that can afford to rent the data for a while, garner an understanding of how the brain is reacting, to media, to product, to a speech etc and create products and campaigns that resonate - there is no way to fake a neural spike!

This chip is first going to be used for quadriplegics but the plan is to enable us to link with the internet and increase the throughput and brains access to data..


Something slightly more prosaic than the above is using Machine Learning analysed content responses, Tribal cluster development and conversation analysis – all used to understand category and brand tribes, consumer expectations and inform the types of advertising, content creation that are most effective for your tribes and to develop new product development.

This should be happening right now but its amazing how many brands and agencies don’t do this, and instead rely traditional research (focus groups??) and intuition led creative – bizarre.

Use the Machine Learning data as your foundation, everything sits ontop, it’s a filter, a guiding light, data is your creative foundation.

It should inform everything brands do creatively and strategically using clustering tech to understand categories and tribes, needs, wants, fears and hopes..


k.     Adtech is just as important as it delivers a lot of the functionality that media agencies used to provide and this is seeing companies pull this service back into the brand, away from the agency, and onto the shoulders of the marketing team – and this is set to continue

From a marketing point of view you’ve got data on everything;

  1.    Where the consumer is and what Tribes they form part of  

  2.    Who they are  

  3.    What their interests are  

  4.    Demographics  

  5.    Pychographics  

  6.    Purchasing frequencies and patterns,  

  7.    What content they like 

  8.   Cultural trends - entertainment trends, grass roots movements 

  9. What they think of your category, brand and competitors

  10. What Tribes they belong to

If you are not already using tools to help extract and undertaking the above, - you are getting behind the curve. Some agencies and brands buy the odd tool but often don’t know how to use it them, this should be a focus and everybody uses them.. 

If you established, to make this work properly you need to do three things.

  1. ·       Rid yourself of legacy systems 

  2. ·       Create a tech stack where you demand that you own the data

  3. ·       Tools change so quickly and give you a competitive advantage - rent - dont buy... 



Ive broken down "data tools" into a few segments, different marketing agencies and verticals will need to focus more on some that the others but these are the key areas 

·       SOCIAL & MEDIA BASED LISTENING - What does the customer think of my brand, my competitors and the industry 

o   Focus on upskilling of "voice" and "image" based social listening. Text based searches will go the way of the dodo inside 5 years - no one will care about text based ranking on Google any more

o   I just did an image based search for a client where we sought customers via searching for products they held - and it was astounding.. 

·       CUSTOMER PURCHASE DATA - What are they buying, where and how frequently 

·       INFLUENCER SEARCH & MANAGEMENT  - What? Influencers? Are they not a bubble? Influencer marketing has just got started, it is almost a pillar in itself - 4.d below 

·       FOLLOWER PSYCHOGRAPHICS - You must know the make-up of people who engage with your brand and the with those who influence your customers 

·       ROI MEASUREMENT Across the who customer funnel - not just "last click". Last click has been getting all the glory, it wont any more, the advanced affiliates are working on much better analytics that accrue value across the curve - and the customer funnel wont be a funnel, it will be a continuous circle - you need to measure each point on the customer circle and up-weight those areas that drive sales, conversations and conversions. 

·       This fits in with the "Build /Measure / Change" methodology of the 4IR "DIGITAL THREAD" where products and services are built and tested in VR, then released to the market and continuously updated and perfected based on the feedback from the customer. The product or service is effectively never complete, it is always upgraded. 

·       On to of the above is the programmatic vertical within marketing which uses data to choose which content, at what time to display to whom. This is all part of "Micro-Targeting ".