Managers want butler monkeys … and other off-the-wall findings from our on-the-wall survey

A recent social experiment had Luminary CEO Marty Drill questioning whether the modern infatuation with big data has obscured our focus on the humans behind the numbers.

Marty Drill

By Marty Drill 4 minute read

Creatives are more interested in autonomous cars than artificial intelligence. And while marketers would use Google Home to order champagne, tech people are enjoying beer and watching Game of Thrones. Meanwhile, management types are planning content personalisation and contemplating either employing butler monkeys or taking a private jet out of here! These were some of the findings from the interactive survey that we conducted during the Luminary brand launch events. 

Interactive survey Q9

Apparently tech-heads love their jobs best, with 46% saying they'd still go to work if they won the lotto.

Like any good agency, we decided to throw a party to celebrate our recent rebranding from Get Started to Luminary. Four parties, actually. Three cities, two countries, and I don’t even want to think about how many bottles of champagne. As part of our celebrations, we decided to take our brand value of ‘human’ and put it into practice: we created an interactive wall for our guests.

Set against a 4.5 metre-high black wall, we laid out a path of nine questions, each with four answers to choose from. At one end there were four rolls of neon string. We asked people to choose what type of professional they are: Creative, Management, Marketer or Technical. Participants then took the string of the colour assigned to their nominated persona. With a glass of champagne in one hand and the string in the other, the bemused participants walked along, looping their string through the hooks next to answers they liked best.

Visually, the result was striking: a flurry of brightly coloured string tracing each person’s journey. Mentally, the mind was in overdrive as you immediately began searching for patterns emerging in the string. What was the most popular answer? Which category participated the most? It was bold, beautiful, artistic, and wonderfully messy. 

It was human.

Interactive wall close-up

The process and the answers were fun and insightful. We partnered with data analytics company Fuzzy Logik to analyse the results to each question, which are outlined below. Use the arrows to click through to see each question and the results by persona.

Interactive survey Q1
Interactive survey Q2
Interactive survey Q3
Interactive survey Q4
Interactive survey Q5
Interactive survey Q6
Interactive survey Q7
Interactive survey Q8
Interactive survey Q.9

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Once upon a time, our industry was actually very human. Creative decisions were based on the experience of a handful of experienced professionals, who were blessed with an other-worldly instinct for trends and audiences. But before long, even these creative zeitgeists were usurped by the new kid in town - big data.

So, here was our first challenge as Luminary: how do we balance the human touch with our emphasis on data-driven decisions? Here’s what I learnt.

The age of big data

According to a report from IBM, 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the past two years alone, at the rate of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. From your preferred brand of milk to the colour of your underwear, chances are big brands are able to squeeze out any information they might need for the purpose at hand.

Data has killed speculation. Now, we have up-to-the-second answers to age old questions like, why did you click on that? How did you choose that option? Who do you like better? Data analysis allows us to understand and mimic natural responses online, and help create the most seamless experience possible.

And yet, the whole process can feel a little cold and robotic. We scan the big data for the key insights, apply them to strategy, design and development, and consider our job done. But what about the humans? 

Let yourself be surprised

As an agency director with a penchant for efficiency, our string experiment really tested my nerves. The variables were uncontrolled, the questions random; and yet here I was learning something new.

For example, when we asked ‘What traits matter most in an agency?’ the overwhelming response was ‘expert’. Of all the possible answers, I had thought the inclination would be towards ‘influencer’ - a space I try to dedicate a lot of my energy towards in shaping Luminary. But no, our clients just want people who are great at what they do.

Similarly, my reading of the available data on virtual assistants and chat bots had me believing that our clients would be highly interested in voice technology. But when we looked at it on a micro level – actually asking our own clients (predominantly marketers) about their technology priorities – we found that 62% of them were focused on content personalisation, 23% on marketing automation and none were focused on voice technology. 

Interactive survey Q4

While content personalisation was a priority for everyone, interest in voice technology was lower than we expected.

It's important not to blindly use data to validate the narrative you want to find. Keep it human. Let the people who actually use your products or services teach you, and always keep your eyes open for opportunities to be proven wrong. From my experience, that’s the juicy stuff that offers incredible growth opportunities.

Participant using string wall

Human-led findings won’t always match the data

The online space is a treasure trove of insights, thanks to an infinite collection of meaningful data. Without doubt, in the space that the traditional 'hearsay' style of creative direction has left, digital research shines. But make sure you have time for human research, too. 

In marketing, humans will always remain at the core of our business. Figuring out what people want and how they are going to behave is going to take more than data. Years of experience, an openness to feedback, and a solid creative instinct will always be required as the conduits for those findings - the translators to turn numbers into narrative.

We must find ways to connect with people, as data only tells part of the story. 

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