CES’ brave new world of data-driven smoke and mirrors

Here’s a video, courtesy of The Drum, from the CES show in Las Vegas. As well as the no doubt interesting exhibits it seems awash with agency types trying to bend a client’s ear. I see that WPP’s Xaxis is one of the video’s sponsors and a number of GroupM types are featured. Anyway this is about that mantra of our times “the customer journey” and its supposedly magic key, data.

But isn’t what most of them are saying bloody obvious? Of course you need to know what your customers want and reach them with relevant “content.” As one of the more sensible speakers says, people don’t wake up and decide they need a product (well sometimes they do) you have to persuade them to want it. Hidden Persuaders, does that ring a bell? Advertising in other words, what those Mad Men realised half a century ago.

The more you hear about the supposed science of understanding the customer journey through data (data only we have of course) the more you realise, as you rub the sleep from your eyes, that it’s mostly smoke and mirrors.

Clients may not realise it. Bet customers would if you forced them to listen to this stuff.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.