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April 4, 2008

Scott Knox: Digital data capture will enhance experiential's offering

Many experiential agencies have been grappling with how far to pursue their digital offering for some time, but recently a handful have been bringing themselves to the top of the pile thanks to their ability to go to their clients and offer digital data capture on top of their traditional skills. Indeed, in my opinion, if live brand agencies are to command a serious chunk of companies’ marcoms budgets, then this is one area they need to get to grips with.

Effectively managing the collection and use of data is an increasingly important issue for those in the live brand arena, as it can really enhance the value of any live activity. Agencies are realising that it’s no longer enough to simply get consumers to fill in a competition card and hope, they now understand the need not just to engage with the consumer to a greater extent, but also to get as much information out of them as possible, and then to use this as a platform to continue this relationship beyond the particular activity itself.

The best way to ensure the right data is collected and is then used constructively – and to the long-term benefit of the brand experience – is to handle this themselves and build the facility for digital data capture into their events.

This, of course, presents its own challenges: how exactly do you build the use of technology into an event, so that it sits as a seamless part of the activity? Does this mean that live brand agencies need data planners and digital experts in-house?

Bringing in people with digital experience and, most importantly, data planners will involve considerable investment. And as we approach a time of financial uncertainty, is this something that agencies want to be doing? The other alternative would be to ally themselves to an agency that could bridge this skills gap.

Either way, by planning digital data capture into events, experiential agencies will give their activities a major boost and could well give the discipline the credibility that they have been striving for through evaluation and metrics.

Scott Knox is managing director of the MCCA

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