Q&A with Mathew Knight, Strategy & Innovation Partner, Foxlark Strategy Limited

We caught up with Mathew Knight, Strategy & Innovation Partner for Foxlark Strategy Limited, ahead of his participation at this year’s Audience Analytics & Insight Forum.  Matthew’s role at the Forum will be to provoke our speakers and our delegates to think harder about all the topics under discussion – to ensure that we come up with new ideas and answers!


AAI: Why is it that more data can lead to fewer insights?
MK: Data paralysis creates a sense that you have to deal with all of the data you have available, and the task becomes one of managing the data – rather than using it effectively. For too long, people have been hoarding data, and trying to make sense of it, rather than trying to create an effective way of focusing on specific areas they want to explore. Worry less about the data, and more about the customer challenges you’re trying to solve – then connect the data you have to that.

AAI: Where should analytic & insight teams sit within the business structure?
MK: More and more businesses are moving to hybrid project teams, rather than discipline-based models, and I think this is essential for insights and analytics to be embedded throughout a project, not just at the start or end. If reorganisation isn’t possible – I’ve always felt that insight teams should be sat most integrated with strategy and business planning.

AAI: Why is it important to break down the silos between data teams and insight teams?
MK: Hybrid teams create better work, because they understand the needs and approach of the other people in their group. Any silos only create narrow focus on a ‘task’, rather than solutions for the bigger collective challenge.

AAI: As an industry are we losing the art of interpreting human motivation?
MK: I think that we’re so focused on the optimisation of processes, we’ve forgotten to look up and think about the whole a little more often – asking the why, not just the what and when. Insight has never been about data, but always the underlying motivations and behaviours of people. I think just using ‘data’ to understand people is lazy.

AAI: GDPR should mean cleaner better data, has it?
MK:Time will tell whether GDPR means cleaner data. It has forced organisations to think more actively about how and why they collect data, and hopefully the ‘cost’ of that data collection means people will be more thoughtful about how they approach it.

AAI: If AI and machine learning could deliver one improved solution to help your understanding and targeting of your audience, what would it be?
MK: Free up people’s time on mundane tasks, so they can go out and explore and observe the real world, rather than from behind their desk.

AAI: Block chain, could it be the answer to all advertisers problems, 100% accurate behavioural data or just the next new shiny thing?
MK: Blockchain will be transformative for transparency and accountability – but it is by no means the answer to all advertisers’ problems. Hanging your hat on any one technology is never the answer. You need to consider an ecosystem of tools and processes to solve a problem. Technology alone is never the answer.

AAI: Why is it important for brands and their agencies to be able to compare online and offline audience and advertising data more effectively?
MK: I’m not sure ‘compare’ is the right approach – but advertisers need to be able to understand how consumers behave, and there is no real notion of ‘online’ and ‘offline’ any more – people just exist across multiple channels, so we need a better way of evaluating behaviours at an ecosystem level.

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