Three Tips From WARC’s 2020 Best Use of Data Awards

  • Date 15th April 2021
  • Author Caspar Yuill
Three Tips From WARC’s 2020 Best Use of Data Awards

I got a bit excited when the WARC Media Awards came out this week. The Best Use of Data category is always fascinating to see (and “borrow” inspiration from), for how the best in the world are using data for better client outcomes. With that in mind, here are my three big takeaways from this year’s winners. 

Data Engineering Is Just As Important As Data Science – Perhaps More So 

As Specsavers’ COVID Booking Engine Grand Prix winner showed, sometimes the secret sauce isn’t in how you analyse and apply the data, but rather how you get the data into a useable form. To turn booking data into real-time capacity advertisements, they first had to work with Manning Gottlieb to get the data into a useable, scalable form. Over 9 months, the team designed data pipelines to make sure the information was easily queryable for the rest of the campaign as it scaled from test cells to overall results.

The approach worked like this. In response to the pandemic, Specsavers implemented an online booking system for appointments. This created a wealth of first-party data, but the flipside was an increase in no-shows; and more test rooms empty at short-notice. The team engineered a data pipeline that aggregated appointment availability from every store into a dataset that could be accessed via an API. They then planned activity to incorporate that data, scaling search activity up and down, and turning social and display campaigns on and off depending on availability. With results from the test, this meant up to 1,000 more eye tests per year per store, and a projected ROI of 4:1.

This mirrors an interesting trend seen more broadly, with a recent data analysis revealing 70% more open roles for data engineers versus data scientists. Over the next year, smart agencies will invest more in data engineers who can design the kinds of pipelines needed to utilise client data more effectively. 

Search And Display Took The Lion’s Share of Awards, But Insights Can Be Used More Broadly

While the most awards went to executions in search and display this year (with the lack of social media recognition a noticeable shift), Specsavers’ Grand Prix was ultimately awarded because it stepped outside channel boundaries and applied the data as broadly as possible (even to digital out of home).

Given what we know about how certain channels work synergistically – such as running display and search activity together – it makes sense for marketers to evaluate how it’s possible to apply data in as many channels as possible.

Data Solutions Are Rarely Set And Forget

I’m sure we’d all love an algorithm that spits out the right answer every time, leaving us to take an extra-long lunch. But unfortunately, that’s not what many of these case studies showed. Instead, what we’re seeing is constant refinement in models and creative. The most impressive of these was Ukrainian bank PUMB, who after an initial burst of activity captured more customers but less average deposits, analysed the factors that influenced deposit size. They then refined their campaign strategy for the next burst of activity, which lead to a 67% increase on planned progress for new clients and 54% increase on planned progress for new deposits.

There are many more fascinating case studies amongst the 2020 data winners along with winners in other categories, including Use of Tech and Effective Channel Integration, so I highly recommend taking a look. And if you’d like to discuss how some of this thinking could be applied to your business, get in touch at – we’d love to chat.