in Data & Insights

Why Marketers Are Increasingly Like F1 Racing Drivers

By Konrad Feldman

Marketers and Formula 1 drivers have more in common than you’d think. The use of real-time data by smart marketers is accelerating as fast as a Mercedes AMG Petronas coming out of a bend at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Rule changes in Formula One (F1) have led to the industry’s rapid adoption of in-car technology through built-in sensors. This is a prime example of machines talking to machines, or the Internet of Things (IoT) as we may know it. In fact, all F1 teams are using IoT technologies to gather information on their racing vehicles.

To delve deeper, I’ll be sitting down with MBE and former F1 racing driver David Coulthard tomorrow at Cannes Lions. We’ll be discussing his career, current projects and how technology is transforming F1 and marketing alike.

From three buttons to 40 knobs

F1 racing has become more complex with more data sources to interpret and parameters to set for best performance. Data now provides as much power as the fuel that sends the race cars hurtling round the track.

David has told me that 20 years ago drivers in F1 had three buttons on their steering wheel and only basic data like throttle position could be recorded. Now much more information can be gathered in simulations and in the workshop and drivers have around 40 knobs, dials and buttons to help them self-engineer the car.

The biggest revolution is that real-time data now available – variables like wind speed and details like the driver’s heart rate – can be accessed by the engineers in the operations room and information immediately is fed back to the driver.

Instincts and intuition

The driver’s own instincts and intuition are still vital as they still make decisions based on the information and those choices determine if they win or lose. The choices are based on the immediate context, such as how the car feels, who is in front and what the weather conditions are like.

That all sounds pretty familiar to me. Advertisers now have far more data to draw on as consumers increasingly live large chunks of their life online. They are generating information with each action and at each touchpoint when they interact with brands.

Personalised and relevant

Having a vast amount of data isn’t of great use in itself. It needs to be analysed for the information that is useful and now we have the processing power to do that. We have the right algorithms to dive deeper and mine data for insights that can feed into increasingly personalised and relevant advertising.

Like drivers and their engineers we can now collect, analyse and leverage data to execute campaigns that are based on real-time context. This is becoming more important for marketers as they aim to find the right moment to engage potential customers and stand out against all the other distractions of the online world – and beat their competition to the punch in acquiring new customers.

Human intelligence

These data-driven insights ensure a relevant message will reach the right customers. However, data cannot do this alone – like F1, for the last lap it needs to combine the spark of human ingenuity with the insights to create a compelling piece of communication. Human intelligence is still a vital part of the winning mix.

The engines powering data collation and analytics will only become more powerful. With the right tech partners it is possible for marketers to maximise their company’s performance, reward shareholders and develop a competitive edge for the business. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible so far.

See Konrad Feldman and David Coulthard on the Inspiration stage at Cannes Lions on Friday 26th June at 12.10pm. The ‘Changing The Formula’ fireside discussion will explore how data and technology is driving idea generation and creativity.

This article was first published on Marketing.