The 4A’s is asking business gurus to answer five important questions affecting the industry. Here, Deborah Furey, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Analytics for Wunderman Health, takes her turn providing the answers
What’s the biggest challenge or opportunity facing the ad industry right now?
Share of customers’ and consumers’ minds. In this arena, personal is meaningful. It’s up to marketers to use technology, data, addressable media and creative to connect with people in the most personal and meaningful ways.
What is the single most significant change you need to make in your agency in the next 12 months?
Wunderman Health recently strengthened its commitment to multi-channel marketing with a pioneering personalized marketing service, which I’m leading. Many companies’ digital and technological capabilities are more sophisticated than their organizational models. Our job is to help evolve these models, enabling companies to harness their data and technology to drive innovation and personalized marketing. We aim to help even the most conservative companies begin exploring engagement through new kinds of strategies and innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).
What products, services and unique skills do ad and digital agencies offer to guarantee the industry’s survival for another 100 years?
I talk a lot about experiment-fueled change. With the rise of technology, companies have an extraordinary amount of data at their fingertips, and most are all thumbs about it. The result is they often fail to innovate, test and gather data and refine and redeploy strategic campaigns that inspire real change for brands and people. At the intersection of marketing science, customer data, creative and technology, digital agencies are uniquely positioned to help marketers pioneer this new territory. When it comes to using data well, I think we could spend more than a century figuring that out.
What attributes do you look for in your next generation of leaders and managers?
While our business has changed rapidly, one thing has not: The need for business-focused, strategic marketers who delight in making decisions based on proof-points and evidence. And you can’t beat authentic curiosity.
If you weren’t working in advertising, what would you be doing as a career?
Some sort of research, perhaps social science or, fantasy; something clinical! Believe it or not, I started my career on the creative side, moving eventually to management consulting and research—I went so far as to get an Ed.M. in human cognitive development and educational media from Harvard University. What can I say, I have a passion for brain function and I’m fascinated by how we learn.