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Looking towards the Future. Dana Griffin on AI, Data and Trust.

Marketing isn’t just about footwork and a few clicks on AdWords anymore, the field is expanding and we need to catch up.

Since the internet and social boom, even more complicated technologies and tactics keep being created. As marketers scramble to get to the top, finding courses and lectures to keep up with the flood of information and technology, we tend to get a bit lost.

This year, the Creative Industry Summit is aiming towards keeping us informed with some of the newest ways to keep up with the international marketing community. One of the main things on their minds?

Artificial Intelligence.

And while Sophia the Robot will be a shining gem in showcasing just how far AI has come overall, Dana Griffin of INNR Design will be helping us get a deeper and more detailed explanation on how it impacts our marketing.

We decided to grab a few minutes of Griffin’s time before her talk at the summit tomorrow.


So, what inspired you to accept the 10-hour long journey to Cairo to speak at this year’s Creative Industry Summit?

My friend Thomas Kolster who spoke at the Creative Industry Summit last year introduced me to Mai. When I got to meet her and the team over FaceTime and learn more about the conference, I was blown away by their energy, the story behind their work, and how aligned we were on the content we wanted to share.

I knew I wanted to be a part of it, so I was humbled when Mai asked me to join as a speaker and am incredibly excited to be here.


Could you tell us a little bit about your topic for the summit, Neuromarketing: your brain is the new data?

Neuromarketing, the science of tapping into the unconscious mind to drive decision making through technology has been a hot topic in the past 36 months or so, but especially in view of the latest Facebook news.

My goal for this talk is to review the evolution and application of Neuromarketing while discussing the future of the discipline, ethics and data privacy implications in light of AI advancements.


Before coming to Egypt, did you plan on researching the local or MENA region marketing scene?

If you already have, how do you feel we are doing? Are there certain steps or things we could be doing to improve our overall marketing efforts?

I have been following Egypt and its market for a while, since the advent of global social media, and am fascinated with the creativity and entrepreneurship of its people.

I only actually only recommend to lean in even more in creatively and flexibly applying technology, especially when it relates to customization. Big ideas don’t always come from big pockets. Quite the opposite, in fact.


You’ve recently started your company, INNRDesign. Could you explain how INNRDesign works and how it could impact a company’s marketing efforts?

INNRdesign’s goal is to use neuroscience, technology and design to both discover the highest potential of a company based on its combination of resources and understand how to leverage its unique profile to get there. Just like these principles are used to drive purchasing or voting behavior, they can be used to prime companies to reach their goals by tapping into their potential.


What interests you so much about data analysis and INNRDesign’s work?

The beauty of data is that it opens more doors into understanding human decision making and how we evolve as a species.

When AI is applied to data – through social media, wearables or smart homes – it allows us to go from marketing to the masses to reaching each individual in a completely customized manner. This gives us both tremendous untapped opportunities along with equal responsibility to utilize this knowledge ethically and protect vulnerable users.


Do you think companies should also be interested in the same things, or for the same reasons?

Absolutely! We live in a world where we are willingly giving up our private data in return for free content and services.

But we do so, because we placed trust in those platforms, specifically Facebook and Google.

Trust is the most vulnerable resource today and it is much easier to lose than gain. We have now reached a point where we all started to question and lose that trust. And without trust, there is no engagement, and without engagement there is no data. And in that world, we all lose.


When we discuss things such as AI, Neurosceince and data analysis, many marketers from smaller or medium sized companies tremble a little in fear.

That is because neuroscience is designed to be intimidating to the masses. After all, it deals with subconscious decision making, perhaps uses it as well?

I am kidding, of course.

Neuromarketing is being used in two ways: data harvesting and content application (creative, platform, timing, device, state of mind, etc.). As technology advances it drives down the barriers to entry for marketers of all sizes. Today, we moved from using expenses fMRI studies that only a lucky few had the means for (and was argued to have overstated results) to data markers and biometrics collected in mass and interpreted in real time.


How would you suggest they move forward with their marketing if they have low budgets, or feel they are too small to use newer, more advanced marketing technologies?

While not everyone may be able to hook up an entire movie theatre to cognitive bands or monitoring the CO2 levels of an entire audience in real time (like they just did at TED last week), studies in the past few years have given marketers of all sizes and budgets access to impactful principles that they can apply to their campaigns.


What kind of marketing technologies, such as SEO, conversion optimization and content marketing, would you suggest or recommend for younger startups to use if they are unable to use more advanced tech such as AI?

There are a lot of technologies that are being applied for free or nearly for free today to improve targeting and increase reach. The problem is that the more solutions there are the more noise is created. So in order to stand out, startups needs to have two core things:

  1. A valuable offering that they believe in and understand it’s audience and business model
  2. Creative that stands out to tell their story. No targeting or reach technology can trump genuine emotion when it comes to impacting decision making and purchasing behavior.


As someone who is working in the field of data analysis, how do you feel about Facebook’s scandal with Cambridge Analytica and Russians influencing elections? Just how strong do you believe data analysis can be in influencing people?

In the coming months and years, we will see that the news about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are tip of the iceberg in the global implications of using data and neuromarketing principles at scale – across platforms that reach 2 billion people worldwide.

And the main culprit at the forefront of the scandal is neuroscientist Alexander Kogen.

What Kogen and his team at Cambridge University found – apparently working in conjunction with Facebook – is that our social media behavior along with all the data markers we share on a daily basis have become an indicator of human emotion and behavior rivaling a brain scan.

90% of our decision making is subconscious, and I believe that when data is collected, interpreted and applied correctly, to incredibly targeted groups, it can drive decision making and therefore behavior.


You’ve worked with top 500 fortune companies, how do you feel they should react right now regarding the scandal? Would you advice transparency, or finding and fixing errors before it is uncovered by others?

Many of top Fortune 500 brands I have worked with have either suspended or are actively auditing their work with not only Facebook, but all the platforms.

Because their business, just like Facebook, ultimately depends on consumer trust. And we have now reached a moment where we all have to take responsibility for protecting our consumer’s privacy and applying our findings in an ethical manner.


How would you advice brands to be transparent? (not necessarily due to the scandal, but generally.)

I recommend that brands take 3 steps to protect their relationship to their audience, arguably their most valuable asset:

  1. Take genuine interest in the well-being of their customers, employees as well as their community.
  2. Allocate resources to understanding both the short term and long-term implications to your company and marketing.
  3. Become radically transparent about what you are seeing as challenges and improving on with your customers, whether or not it impacts them directly. We now live in a world where it takes minutes and a platform of over 2 billion people to ruin a reputation. Trust me, nobody wants to be called out as the next Facebook/Cambridge Analytica. They are the first – and arguably the biggest – but not the last.


How do you see the international marketing landscape in a few years?

Just last week, at TED, Jaron Lanier – the founder of VR – said, and I quote:  “What started out as advertising can’t be called advertising anymore. It turned into behavior modification.”

For the longest time it was about your eyeballs. That is all you were. Your attention was harvested and monetized. While the world has turned in the past 24-36 months, we realize that there is now more than meets the eye, literally.

We now live in a world, where above and beyond what you spend and who you vote for, for the first time, you are the ones who became the product. You, along with your brain and your data are incredibly valuable to both corporations and governments. Because your brain, and your subconscious actions, when monitored carefully, have become a machine that can predict the success of ketchup or candidates better than any focus group before.

What this means for the industry is that we will move into a space that puts trust at the forefront, and we will start monetizing trust rather than eyeballs. That is why we see, mainly in the past year, the boom of the trust economy and blockchain being applied across the board to decentralize control and give the power back to the people that contribute. I am excited to see how blockchain applications will change our industry. We certainly find ourselves at an inflection point where agency models are failing, media is losing its cache and brands are attempting to take back control.


Lastly, as a female entrepreneur and a woman working in a man’s world, you must have gone through certain obstacles to get to where you are. What kind of advice would you give to women forging their roles in marketing and tech?

This is a very interesting subject I am both passionate about and tend to stay away from. When I look at what makes women entrepreneurs successful, I see recognize three main principles, that I live by and mentor.

  1. Don’t try to measure your worth against that of men. The measurement scale is different, and by using the wrong metrics you will end up not understanding or living up to your full potential. Just like collecting and interpreting the wrong data will lead to missed business opportunities, or worst.
  2. Do not look at the men that came before you, but at the market you are going after. Because in today’s rapidly changing landscape, your set of circumstances will likely require a new approach and you will only find that looking forward, not around or back.
  3. Surround yourself by powerful and generous women who will hold your hand and cheer you on through this journey. Because building a company takes guts and grit and girl power.

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