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OMD Predicts 2016 – The key takeaways

This year, OMD Predicts – our ongoing thought-leadership event series – centered on the themes of triggering desire and building demand. We hosted a great line-up of world-class speakers, including David Plouffe (Chief Advisor to Uber; Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama (2011-2013); Campaign Manager, 2008 Obama for President; and New York Times Best-Selling Author), Sean Pillot De Chenecey (Global Trends Analyst at Brand Positive), Jacqueline Hughes (Group Strategy Director – Flamingo) and Neil Hurman (Chief Planning Officer – OMD EMEA). Here, we provide you with all the key takeaways and highlights from this year’s edition.

Using Data to Unlock Better Brand and Business Performance

Nadim Samara, CEO of OMD UAE, started off the day’s conversations with a look at the consumer journey today and its role in shaping the way brands communicate, especially when armed with the right data and technology. As consumers become more visible with the amount of information they consume and share, they offer brands the necessary clues on how to better communicate and engage with them. Data and analytics are now the key parameters to unlocking better brand and business performance.

Embracing a Sharing Culture

“What’s mine is yours” – that is the philosophy underlying today’s sharing culture, according to Sean Pillot de Chenecy, when addressing the rise of the On-Demand Economy. According to a study by Nielsen, over 60% of the global population are interested in borrowing or sharing assets for a financial reward. And that’s an audience that completely crosses geography and age groups; it’s not limited to just hipsters and millennials. This massive shift in culture is fundamentally altering the way people are accessing brands. De Chenecy closed with a famous Gibson quote: “We have no genuine idea of what the future holds, we only have risk management.”

Marrying Data and Insights

With the vast amounts of data collected today, making sense of it all can be a huge challenge. David Plouffe addressed ways to tackle this, drawing on his experience in managing Barack Obama’s successful presidential bid in 2008. By combining the data from preliminary polls with the qualitative research conducted over a period of several months, Plouffe’s team was able to form a clearer picture of the favorability among American voting pools and focus their efforts accordingly. By plugging such data into their analysis models, they were able to predict the outcome of voting in some states within 1% accuracy. “Models like these don’t start out perfectly, but they can approach perfection with enough discipline, and eventually predict behavior with incredible accuracy,” Plouffe said. The experience of the US election proved that the marriage of rich data and qualitative insights is a winning combination.

At UBER, Plouffe elaborated on hownot having the same level of data as other companies, as a relatively new entrant to the market, doesn’t stop them, utilizing historical data instead to understand demand at any given point and also experiment with their product development.

During the panel discussion that followed, OMD UAE’s Head of Analytics, Walid Hadid, supported this and addressed it from a broader brand perspective. Data and analytics are indeed helping brands become more effective at targeting and creating more customized online experiences. Furthermore, the region is not lagging behind in data availability. “The data, technology and analytics are available here and it’s up to the brand and their agency to work together in taking the next step,” he added.

Positioning for Desire

Jackie Hughes focused on consumer psychology and how brands that appeal to people’s desire are more successful than ones who focus on needs. In fact, on social platforms, hashtags that focus on desire come up to 100 million, as compared to the 2-million mark or less for those around needs. Desire is psychological whereas needs are physiological, so wouldn’t it be better to be a brand that someone “sets their heart on” rather than one that fulfills a need?

Demand-Based Segmentation

The conversation closed with Neil Hurman, who showcased how OMD is altering the approach to planning today. With all the data and technology available, there is a massive world of opportunity ahead of us. We need to shift our focus to all the demand opportunities out there, rather than just focusing on target audiences. With mass media and today’s sharing culture, we have to assume that everyone sees our messages, so the key is to convert as much of the demand potential as possible.

“We have the ability to understand the desires that drive demand by utilizing data in new ways,” said Hurman. “That will only happen if we invest as much effort into smart people that ask smart questions, behaving more like scientists rather than engineers. As brands and agencies, we have the opportunity to increase effectiveness of our marketing, and all it requires from us is to behave a bit differently.”


For additional insights from the conversations that took place at OMD (Omnicom Media Group) Predicts 2016, here’s the recap video: