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Digital advertising: Part art, part science

Engaging the consumer with the right message at the right time requires advertisers to utilize technology and creativity in meaningful and crafty ways. And whether consumers respond more effectively to one over the other is still to be determined. We asked digital marketing and media leaders at this year's IAB MIXX Conference how they predict what is going to resonate with their consumers, and which they embrace more -- art or science. Overall, they agreed that it takes a delicate balance of both.

Sebastian Tomich, senior vice president, advertising and innovation, The New York Times Company, thinks that while we need both art and science, ultimately companies are transformed by great ideas and great creative. Going off this perspective, he helps his team balance both tools by emphasizing that you make big decisions based on your gut and small decisions on data, he says.

Karin Timpone, global marketing officer, Marriott International, Inc., emphasizes the need to try things out, even though the outcome isn't the intended effect. Timpone illustrates this process of experimentation with a real-life example of her own in which Marriott combined art and science through the introductory use of beacon technology, giving her team a new and exciting way to engage customers.

According to Sarah Jones, manager of connections capabilities, Anheuser-Busch InBev, embracing and understanding your consumer depends greatly on research applied through a creative lens, which for her company includes ad labs, consumer panels, focus groups, and being immersed in their everyday life. Furthering this, Betty Liu, founder and CEO, Radiate, stresses that it's about getting accurate data and combining it with the artistry of great, quality content that connects with the consumer.

Stephen Gold, chief marketing officer and VP, business development, IBM Watson, uses the example of artificial intelligence to show the importance of real-time interaction and mixing technology and application with relevant data and insight.

Kevin Slavin, faculty and founder, playful systems, MIT Media Labs, has built a science around predicting what consumers expect, but questions how we can build something that's unexpected. People need to have value in the things they expect, he adds, while also deriving meaning from things they never expected -- that's art. And Bryan Wiener, executive chairman, 360i, asserts that marketers shouldn't be in the business of predicting the future but setting their focus on ways in which we can rapidly respond to quickly changing consumer trends that are happening now. It's about whether you have the right frameworks and the right internal and external teams that allow you to nimbly respond when needed.

Watch the full video to hear more about what they had to say.

You can see more off-stage interviews and speaker video highlights from the 2016 IAB MIXX Conference on IABtv. IAB members can see the full stage videos by logging into their IAB Member Portal.

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. It is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing...

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