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With the rapid expansion of marketing technology, marketing has taken on a much greater capacity for automation. But that shouldn’t come at the expense of insights generated by… people. In a recent survey [download page] of advertisers, agencies and media companies, Kantar Millward Brown finds a majority feeling that the tilt needs to be to human insight over automation.

Some may argue it’s a false choice, but if they had to choose, more than one-fifth of the respondents opted for human insight exclusively over automation, while an additional 50%+ said that marketing needs mostly human insight with some automation.

By contrast, only about one-quarter or fewer feel that marketers need more automation than human insights.

That brings to mind earlier research from gyro, which had found a majority (61%) of US business decision-makers believing that human insights should precede hard analytics when making decisions.

Another survey of business decision-makers asked what they would do if available data contradicted their gut feeling when making a decision: a majority 57% of business leaders would re-analyze the data, while another 30% would collect more data. Only 10% said at the time that they would take the course of action suggested by the data.

These latest results may come in some part as a response to the rapidly-changing marketing function, which has necessitated a greater knowledge of data and analytics. While a tremendous amount of data is being generated, only around 40% of analytics data is considered even usable for decision-making, per recent research.

In the end, it’s likely a blend of art and science: while much of data-driven decision-making is a science, most marketers see the artistic components of finding the right questions to ask, visualizing the data, and telling a compelling story based on the data…

About the Data: The Kantar Millward Brown report is based on a survey of more than 330 leaders, representing advertisers, agencies and media companies around the world.

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