From math teacher at the US Military Academy in West Point more than 20 years ago to his new role as Chief Strategics Analytics Officer of agency DraftFCB, Ken Beatty has sampled a unique set of perspectives on data and its impact on people.
Today, like any good agency “soldier,” he says he wants to make an impact on behalf of clients and asserts his analytics credo: “I don't believe in channel specificity. Consumers don't think that way. They don't picture brands based on digital channel or TV or whatever. They just think of the need that connects to the brand.”
Having previously guided agency G2’s data and analytics initiatives, Beatty sees the analytics team at DraftFCB as serving the client first rather than the internal subject matter experts.
“The analytics team’s thorough understanding of the marketing issues...facing the client is where it all starts. Culturally, sometimes in an agency, that's a bit of a challenge because the analytics team can be viewed as background capability,” says Beatty. “But we’re part of the discussion [with the client] from the beginning.”
On the subject of “big data” as an agency change agent, Beatty is similarly unequivocal: “'Big data' has been there forever. We're just becoming more aware of it. And we’re getting more computing power, which is required to manipulate it. So 'big data' isn’t new, but how we are attacking it and how we are handling it is.”
Media Vs. Creative
With the rest of the tech ecosystem pointing at the data science “bucket” as an important area of recruiting, Beatty is sympathetic and believes that effectively sifting through the data insights is a differentiator on the agency side. But navigating the media and creative divide presents another challenge for analytics – no easy task, especially on the creative side, where taking advantage of data (and its insights) might seem anathema to the creative process.
Beatty sees the solution in being a part of the formation of the client presentation – known as “the brief.” Commenting on the creative side, he says, “There can be a gap. Sometimes, it's a function of how the creative team is briefed, what they get briefed on, and the way that they interpret that brief as they develop their work. (…) Creatives [need to be] focused on what the business objectives are and have science behind what they are doing so that they can make the two match.”
Interfacing With Vendors
The “outsourcing versus ownership” of technology in the agency can be a divisive subject when it comes to programmatic media. As it relates to agency analytics needs, Beatty sees the answer as a moving line – actually not even a line. “It's not a relay race anymore where all the different individuals are partners who touch a client's business and pass it from one to the other," says Beatty. "There's so much overlap on what the capabilities are. When it's working nicely is when that spirit of partnership exists between the vendors and the agency.
"From my own perspective, I prefer that the analytics team within the agency be seen as a trusted advisor to the client, as well as internally, so that we can be agnostic to any vendor, tool and data source and be able to put that together in a way that tells a story the way that it needs to be told. That's a challenge.”
Finally, moving into the topic of data visualization, Beatty sees things getting better on the vendor tools side, and when it comes to “the dashboard” for the client, he’s clear on what needs to be visualized: “A dashboard should not be constructed to tell you everything that you want to know because it's asking too much. More than anything, it needs to give you a thumbnail view of the KPIs, and just the KPIs – not all of the other metrics that you may be tracking – in order to help you ask better questions. From there, once you ask those better questions, [the data analytics group] may have to go off and do a ‘deep dive.’ Or not – it may not need to be that intricate a question."
Brevity is the soul of the dashboard.