Creative Data Labs – business problems and bright futures

In his latest blog, FanFinders’ CEO and co-founder Alec Dobbie reflects on his experience as a judge at one of the Data and Marketing Association’s Creative Data Labs.

Last month, I was honoured to be asked by the Data and Marketing Association (DMA Talent) to be a judge at one of their virtual Creative Data Labs.

The process

At each Lab, an organisation, in this case the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021), is invited to come along with a catalogue of raw data and some example problems it would like to solve. 

This information is then given to groups of students who have half a day to come up with a novel but well thought-out solutions to the problems facing the host organisation. This time we were hosted by the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

Tackling these problems were a wide range of the student body, from first year computer scientists, through to English Masters and Doctoral students. They split into teams, selected one of three subject areas to look at and went off to get started. 

For the RWLC2021, this was a chance bring a different set, of mostly younger eyes, to areas like marketing, merchandise and ticketing.  

After 4 hours or so, the teams were back to present slide shows of their findings, observations, and ideas to the judging panel, made up from a senior team across the MMU, RWLC, DMA and myself.

The teams had either selected a single presenter or had a round robin approach, but evident from the first slide to the last was the quality of those involved.

Not only had all teams managed to produce well-designed and coherent slide decks, but the overall standard and attention to detail was better than I have seen from some professional agencies; which is superb for the relatively small amount of time and lack of prior subject knowledge.

Key takeaways

On all three questions, the groups had dug deep into both the data supplied by RLWC2021 and, in some cases, gone beyond the brief to look at the marketing picture holistically. This is where I think the real advantage of a Lab is for the businesses that take part.

There were some similarities in the approach to marketing from the teams: all four had identified ways and channels to market to younger fans, and older demographics (in one team’s painful words, those in their 40s and 50s).

Some other ideas included micro-targeting of adverts to create a FOMO style thought process, novel ways to increase both gate and online revenues, and some really interesting perspectives on gender balanced advertising.

Overall, I’m sure this is an experience that the RLWC2021 would have taken lots from and I found the process thoroughly rewarding.

In the current climate, programmes that provide invaluable learning and networking opportunities are vital. The past year has shown how crucial it is to keep fostering innovation and forward-thinking solutions. Challenging talented students to engage with and meet real-world problems in the digital space can only be a positive for the future of our industry.

It was tough to select a winner and in the end, it came down to who covered the brief most comprehensively. All of the teams have very bright futures ahead of them, and as one judge said: “I’m sure some of these will end up as my boss in ten years.”

Find out more about the Creative Data Programme here.

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