Technology is not the solution

In the world of media technology is often lauded as the saviour.  The magic bullet which will solve all of our needs, be it for analysis, targeting, optimisation or the favourite phrase on everyone’s lips, ‘big data’.

Advertising agencies push it hard as a USP (not very unique if everyone is doing it!), advertisers look for technology solutions that will ‘super charge’ their marketing, and the tech companies themselves do their best to stir it all up into a frenzy in order to sell their product.    The world of technology in media and marketing is a difficult one to navigate, categorising tools and understanding how they fit together is difficult enough in itself as this post and the associated infographic exemplifies.

But in reality, technology is rarely more than a facilitator, and businesses that lose sight of that will be left disappointed and frustrated when they work out that their latest tool isn’t going to revolutionise their advertising campaigns.

Technology as a Facilitator

I am a great believer in technology and its uses in advertising.  In fact, it is my job and build technology solutions that make our advertising campaign more transparent and effective.  But this effectiveness, and the role technology plays in our day to day lives, is purely as an insight tool, an efficiency driver and a facilitator.  It cannot (and nor would we want it to) take the place of the team managing and driving our advertising campaigns.

Technology is a key part of the modern day advertising agency life, it makes analysis easier, facilitates speed of changes in advertising and takes away the paper work of old but it still needs the people telling it what to do, or to interpret the information it produces.

Advertising is about People

As much is it is people you are trying to target with your advertising, it will be people who make your advertising work for you. Behind ever technological innovation, or every data analysis tool, there will be somebody interpreting the output and revising your advertising accordingly.  The technology makes a lot of things possible, but without the people driving them, none of it will become a reality.

In a recent survey conducted by Econsultancy 70% of in house marketers stated they planned to increase their investment in technology in 2014.  The leading areas of proposed increased investment were CRM (49%) and Analytics (47%).  My concern is that this investment is being seen by some as the end game.  Buy the tool, problem solved. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Too many times I have seen businesses paying large fees for a piece of technology that is adding no value to their business or their marketing because it is poorly configured or poorly used.  Signing off an invoice to buy the tool doesn’t solve a problem, investing in the people to understand and drive the technology might just do that.

So next time you are pitched a technology solution, or somebody tells you how technology is set to revolutionise the advertising landscape, look beyond the technology and think about what it will take to drive it.  That’s where the real value is added.