Nicole Kane, Director of Global Media at McDonald’s and Chair of Judges for the WARC Media Awards’ Effective Use of Data category, spoke to Lucy Aitken about what she wants to see in this year’s papers.

Describe your role McDonald’s.

My job has three core areas. The first is global partnerships such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Basically, it’s about who we can partner to be our strategic evangelists who can go above and beyond media.

The second is around accountability and transparency, which is top-of-mind in the industry right now. The final one is agency relationships – I manage our global media network of record, OMD.

The WARC Media Awards Effective Use of Data category is all about recognising the role of data in an effective communications strategy. When done well, what might that look like to you?

Data that, when providing insights, will drive an intended response. It’s about validating what you thought was going to happen versus relying on a gut feeling.

What did you learn from judging the Effective Use of Data category last year?

Variety is the best way to describe last year’s submissions from last year. The strongest submissions leveraged creativity in their application of data; sometimes even just finding new ways to use easily available data such as weather. The Grand Prix, Prospan: Don’t ignore a cough, showed how accessing freely available data helped the Australian cough remedy to grow sales.

There were ranges in the types of applications, as well as the level of risk brands took to try something new. For the most part, the top submissions built a solution that was right for their brand. It did not feel like we were just reading the same applications over and over again.

How do you think marketers are getting better at using data in the right ways? And where is there room for improvement?

There are many more marketers who have a strong desire to do that and are investing in the people and tools to make it happen. But from a global point of view, it varies so much from market to market what you can do so you can’t put together one standard. The privacy conversation is interesting – privacy is extremely important and McDonald’s takes it seriously. Still, there are newer generations who are digital natives – if you were to figure out what the right value exchange is, some of them are open to sharing information. Where that goes in the future will be interesting.

What would you like to see in the papers this year that you did not see last year?

Last year, many submissions used proprietary agency solutions or large scale platforms such as Google and Facebook. What I am hoping to see more of this year are the next generation of data and technology providers that are allowing brands to be smarter in how they use data. There are great start-ups out there, but sometimes it is hard to find the few that really stand-out. It would be good, if in this process, we could provide exposure to worthy companies.

What will you be looking for in general from this year’s entrants to the Best Use of Data category? And what advice would you like to give anyone thinking of entering their work?

There are three things I’d like to see:

  1. A company that has had a true data transformation;
  2. Brands that are leveraging new data capabilities that are proving to be beneficial;
  3. New types of data that others can start to learn from and to leverage.

Advice for people who are entering:

  1. As everyone is trying to figure out this space, my preference is for simple solutions that drive real value compared instead of solutions that are clever and sexy but no one is able to accomplish.
  2. In terms of how submissions are packaged, story-telling is really important and people who can use data to tell a really great story will really stand out.

The WARC Media Awards are open for entries until 19 September. Free to enter, there’s a $40K prize fund for winning entries. For details on all the categories and all the judges, an entry kit and an entry form please visit the Awards site.