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Data Makes for a Better, Smarter Story

Data Makes for a Better, Smarter Story

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

August 27, 2019

Havas Helia’s Michael Kaushansky on why brands need to understand their customers’ wants, needs, and desires to make meaningful connections. And how data is integral to that.

"What excites me about advertising is the ability to influence consumer behavior through data—to speak to consumers in a highly relevant way."

Havas Helia President and Chief Data Officer Michael Kaushansky shares how his agency goes beyond data analysis, the biggest myth about data, and why he’d rather play sports than watch them. 

 

How did you get started in the industry? 

I have been obsessed with data from a young age. I’m a logical thinker and data leads me to find logical solutions. My career kicked off in credit card marketing, which, you might guess, requires a ton of math to determine the rates, manage credit lines, orchestrate credit offers, and much more. I was following a great career trajectory in financial services until it came to a screeching halt, compliments of our 2008 credit crisis. Like most in the financial services, I was distraught and pretty much done with banking. I decided to take my data skills and apply them to one of the biggest unstructured and untouched data sets—advertising data. What excites me about advertising is the ability to influence consumer behavior through data—to speak to consumers in a highly relevant way. 

Tell us about your role at Havas Helia. 

Helia’s mission is to make the most of our clients’ customer data. At Helia, we do more than just data analysis: we craft messaging, personalize creative, design and build sites, and much more—all informed by customer data. 

What I enjoy most is that Helia is built to support data-driven marketing—which is what originally drew me to advertising. 

Helia’s challenge is that what we do is not simple. We are not a straight-up advertising agency; nor are we a media agency. Because of the nature of our work, our story is complex and not so easily understood by clients. With that said, when clients engage with us, they see tremendous business value. 

How do you explain your role to people not in the industry? 

I help marketers tell a better and smarter story about their brand to their consumers, using facts, data, and information. 

How can data help brands make meaningful connections with consumers? 

The keyword is meaningful. Any brand can make a connection with a consumer. It does not mean that a connection will lead to anything good. It is commonplace to see ads that are targeted and yet don’t resonate with consumers; these ads are largely ignored. 

To make a meaningful connection, brands must understand their consumers’ wants, needs, and desires. Only then can a brand craft a message and design an experience that will truly resonate and truly connect. 

What is the biggest misconception about data and analytics? 

Myth: Data stymies creativity, and analytics should be performed post-fact.

Reality: Data should inform creativity, and analytics needs to be predictive—prescribe what needs to happen.

"Data does not contain bias."

You recently were named to the I-COM Data Storytelling Council. Why is it important that marketers and advertisers make sure those two worlds are connected? 

Data Storytelling was largely created to humanize consumer data so that marketers could interpret it and use it. Understanding how to leverage data is mission-critical for brands in today’s environment. Everything consumers touch is powered by data, from social networks, to apps, to visual and voice recognition. Take Amazon, for example. Amazon does not own eCommerce, but they are the best at eCommerce because they use their customer data. 

What do you think will be the next big trend in the industry? 

There will be many data-driven innovations that will propel advertising. I believe that we have already reached a point where we need to have the ability to produce highly personalized content at scale. In the future, using data to inform what to say, when to say it, and to whom to say it will be largely automated and informed by machine learning instantaneously.

If you could share only one thing about data that you wish everyone knew, what would it be?

Data does not contain bias.

What do you do for fun outside of the office? Any hobbies?

I enjoy outdoor sports, not watching sports on the screen, but actively participating as an individual or as part of a team. And, of course, spending time with my two daughters who are both amazing at the piano.

How do you inspire others?

By empowering them to make independent decisions that they believe in.

What are you really good at?

Humanizing data and technology in a compelling way.

What’s the best advice you ever received? The worst?

Best advice: More planning does not lead to better outcomes.

Worst advice: Always think before you speak—sometimes you need to trust your gut.

"What excites me about advertising is the ability to influence consumer behavior through data—to speak to consumers in a highly relevant way."

Havas Helia President and Chief Data Officer Michael Kaushansky shares how his agency goes beyond data analysis, the biggest myth about data, and why he’d rather play sports than watch them. 

 

How did you get started in the industry? 

I have been obsessed with data from a young age. I’m a logical thinker and data leads me to find logical solutions. My career kicked off in credit card marketing, which, you might guess, requires a ton of math to determine the rates, manage credit lines, orchestrate credit offers, and much more. I was following a great career trajectory in financial services until it came to a screeching halt, compliments of our 2008 credit crisis. Like most in the financial services, I was distraught and pretty much done with banking. I decided to take my data skills and apply them to one of the biggest unstructured and untouched data sets—advertising data. What excites me about advertising is the ability to influence consumer behavior through data—to speak to consumers in a highly relevant way. 

Tell us about your role at Havas Helia. 

Helia’s mission is to make the most of our clients’ customer data. At Helia, we do more than just data analysis: we craft messaging, personalize creative, design and build sites, and much more—all informed by customer data. 

What I enjoy most is that Helia is built to support data-driven marketing—which is what originally drew me to advertising. 

Helia’s challenge is that what we do is not simple. We are not a straight-up advertising agency; nor are we a media agency. Because of the nature of our work, our story is complex and not so easily understood by clients. With that said, when clients engage with us, they see tremendous business value. 

How do you explain your role to people not in the industry? 

I help marketers tell a better and smarter story about their brand to their consumers, using facts, data, and information. 

How can data help brands make meaningful connections with consumers? 

The keyword is meaningful. Any brand can make a connection with a consumer. It does not mean that a connection will lead to anything good. It is commonplace to see ads that are targeted and yet don’t resonate with consumers; these ads are largely ignored. 

To make a meaningful connection, brands must understand their consumers’ wants, needs, and desires. Only then can a brand craft a message and design an experience that will truly resonate and truly connect. 

What is the biggest misconception about data and analytics? 

Myth: Data stymies creativity, and analytics should be performed post-fact.

Reality: Data should inform creativity, and analytics needs to be predictive—prescribe what needs to happen.

"Data does not contain bias."

You recently were named to the I-COM Data Storytelling Council. Why is it important that marketers and advertisers make sure those two worlds are connected? 

Data Storytelling was largely created to humanize consumer data so that marketers could interpret it and use it. Understanding how to leverage data is mission-critical for brands in today’s environment. Everything consumers touch is powered by data, from social networks, to apps, to visual and voice recognition. Take Amazon, for example. Amazon does not own eCommerce, but they are the best at eCommerce because they use their customer data. 

What do you think will be the next big trend in the industry? 

There will be many data-driven innovations that will propel advertising. I believe that we have already reached a point where we need to have the ability to produce highly personalized content at scale. In the future, using data to inform what to say, when to say it, and to whom to say it will be largely automated and informed by machine learning instantaneously.

If you could share only one thing about data that you wish everyone knew, what would it be?

Data does not contain bias.

What do you do for fun outside of the office? Any hobbies?

I enjoy outdoor sports, not watching sports on the screen, but actively participating as an individual or as part of a team. And, of course, spending time with my two daughters who are both amazing at the piano.

How do you inspire others?

By empowering them to make independent decisions that they believe in.

What are you really good at?

Humanizing data and technology in a compelling way.

What’s the best advice you ever received? The worst?

Best advice: More planning does not lead to better outcomes.

Worst advice: Always think before you speak—sometimes you need to trust your gut.

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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