The Intersection of Data & Creativity

How Personalization is Changing the Rules of Engagement

Every brand has a story. Breaking through with that story in today’s content-heavy world and creating meaningful experiences with consumers may seem impossible, but with data, it’s a challenge that marketers can face head-on. Data has become critical in all aspects of business, and everything we do, from strategy to creative development to the personalized experiences we deliver to the consumer to measurement and reporting.

Working for a travel company, we know firsthand that planning and booking travel is a highly-emotional process, as well as a highly-considered, highly-researched purchase. A lot of time is spent with online content, across a variety of platforms and devices, resulting in complex research and consideration phases. It also means there is great opportunity to inspire and influence consumers along the way, if we can appeal to both the head and heart. Consumers want to be the director of their story, finding their own inspiration across platforms and resources they trust. With smart, actionable data, we can put the power back in their hands, allowing consumers to have a more authentic voice throughout the shopping journey, and make personalized decisions based on their preferences, attitudes and more.

To do this, we must know our audience, so we turn to data. We analyze our first-party data to understand how our audience travels and shops for travel. We couple those insights with custom research we commission to further understand the how and why of their travel decisions. Then we test with real travelers – through focus groups and innovation labs – to understand what resonates and drives behaviors. Insights from these myriad data sources change the way we view creativity – as well as the role of data in strategy and execution, revealing a significant opportunity to create meaningful engagement with travelers.

A proven approach is to lead with the creative element, then use data to confirm our hypothesis. This is where the real magic happens and how we are increasingly able to help our marketing partners reach the right consumer, at the right time, with the right creative message, on the right platform. Advertising should always add value to the consumer experience, and digital advertising enables us to do this in a variety of ways.

In addition to using a range of smart, actionable insights to inform your storytelling strategy, building feedback loops into your campaigns is just as important. Technology-driven personalization creates an amazing data feedback loop, and when done correctly, is organic to the campaign and audience engagement.

While there may always be voices within the creative industry that see the ever-increasing influence of data on the advertising industry as negative – that it somehow diminishes creativity or sanitizes the business of cool, innovative advertising – at the end of the day, data – and thereby personalization – must be there to make the consumer experience better and get to the heart of their emotion.

Learn more about how we help travel marketers deliver data-driven, creative advertising. 

A version of this post originally appeared in Entrepreneur Asia Pacific. 

Wendy Olson Killion

Senior Vice President, Expedia Group Media Solutions

Wendy Olson Killion is senior vice president of Expedia Group Media Solutions, the travel advertising platform of Expedia Group, and leads the business including product, engineering, strategy, operations, and partner-facing teams. Prior to this role, she was vice president of business development, where she oversaw the global teams responsible for managing advertising partner relationships and campaigns across the portfolio of Expedia Group travel brands. She previously directed global product development and marketing for the entire suite of advertising products, including display, email, social and mobile solutions. Before joining Expedia Group, Wendy led product management of the emerging channels and brands at, including their mobile offerings. Wendy also previously spent five years at J.D. Power and Associates where she managed a suite of publications aimed at defining automotive marketing online, and co-founded the Automotive Marketing Roundtable conference. Wendy serves on the HSMAI Americas board and on the VisitBritain Tourism Advisory Council board. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and lives in Washington state with her family.

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