rance crainThe closing DMA13 keynote panel, “What’s NeXt?  A Look Through the Lens,” moderated by the legendary Rance Crain, President, Crain Communications, and Editor-in-Chief, Advertising Age, was a fitting end to this year’s conference as it was all about focusing on the big questions that drive modern marketing.  Joining Rance were Omar Tawakol, Chief Executive Officer, Bluekai; Steven Rosenblatt, Chief Revenue Officer, Foursquare; and Tim Reis, Head of Mobile & Social Solutions, Americas, Google.

The panel began with a rousing discussion of the effects of America’s current economic and governmental insecurity (the question being posed mere hours before the announcement that the federal government was once again open for business).  After that, the provocative and deep-thinking questions flew, one after the other.  How does a marketer determine exactly the right mix of digital, TV, and/or even print media to pinpoint the best moment to influence a customer’s purchase?  What do we do if the data we have access to isn’t accurate?  Where should marketers be pulling their data from? Should marketers change their corporate structures to accommodate data?

The central idea that seemed to pop up again and again was: Should we be fearful of technology?  In our day and age, technology seems to be improving and changing at a much faster rate than that of our understanding of how to use it responsibly, or where to integrate it into our lives.  At one point, Rance brought up the case of a recent bestselling book, The Circle, which paints a negative view of social media sharing and consumers’ control over their data in a slightly dystopian, “1984”-esque future.  Books like The Circle are here to ask the question: Now that we can do X… should we?

There is no clear-cut answer to such a question, of course, but our panelists agreed: Allowing fear to keep us from using technology or developing new responses to cultural needs is not the path forward.  The future is full of uncertainty, true, but it is also something we can shape by our actions, and our responsible use of both the data entrusted to us, and the power provided by advanced technology.

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