Jeff Estok, managing partner of Navigare, reports from the AdForum Worldwide Summit in New York.

Published on Oct 29, 2012 in



The AdForum Worldwide Summit in New York is a unique and highly focused “by invitation only” event. At the event, which took place in mid-October, leading agency consultants, drawn from markets around the world, meet and interact with agency network CEOs and management teams from all disciplines (creative, media, digital, direct, social). 

Instead of trying to relate everything we heard in meetings with 26 agencies over five days, let me focus on three linked trends of critical interest to marketers and agencies alike.

Big data, small data


If you have any doubt that data is king, look at the cover of the October 2012Harvard Business Review. "Getting Control of BIG DATA" is the lead feature. And data—not just digital—was a consistent theme by the more impressive agencies we visited.

When you consider that 90 per cent of all data was created in the last two years, it is no surprise that the race is on to harness it. And translate the big data, to small data—learning more and more about what drives individual customers. Not just their customers, but those of their competitors.

As the HBR article points out, data-driven decisions tend to be better decisions. And data eliminates the “HiPPO”—the highest paid person’s opinion. The CMO of today will likely transition into the CMTO tomorrow. Having the right answers will be replaced by asking the right questions. And clients and agencies alike will face the same capability challenge: there are far too few data scientists to go around.

Think 'media ecosystems', not 'channels'

Media ecosystems provided another consistent theme, and make no mistake, this is more than a buzzword. It is far superior to channel planning, which has a slight bias to the delivery platform. Ecosystems are rooted in user experience and the often overlapping and symbiotic ways in which your messages reach them. And how they then share those messages with others

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