Why Left Brain/Right Brain Is a Myth and More from Viacom’s Data Strategy Pro Kodi Foster

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom


The PSFK conference is a big deal in advertising circles. Described this year by Media Village as “a TED for advertising and branding,” it drew the most forward-thinking minds from across the advertising landscape to New York City to discuss what’s happening and what will be happening in the fast-changing ad world.

It was no surprise to us, then, that Kodi Foster (follow him on Twitter @KodiFoster), Viacom’s vice president of data strategy, was invited to speak on the powerful, even necessary symbiosis of data and creative in the making of an effective piece of marketing or advertising.

In the 10-minute video below, Foster tunnels into how “…the terrible science around media is conducted…” and detonates some commonly held myths about perceived walls between art and science. He then outlines how his team is working across the company to improve the entire content marketing process.

A few of Foster’s more memorable lines:

  • Maybe your ninth-grade counselor was wrong: “There’s no such thing as a left-brain, right-brain human being, and your team, the people you hire for your organization, have got to get rid of this.”
  • Introductions are in order: “In your organization, if your strategists and data people and technologists do not know your creative people, that’s a huge problem.”
  • Ninjas not welcome: “Everyone’s talking about moving away from the broad demos and into custom targets. The problem is, we’re still doing the broad demos. The millennial is a broad demo. That’s our brain, which from a cognitive science standpoint needs to classify everything into a very quick and understandable bucket. The millennial is just one of those buckets. There is no theory of everything on how to reach a millennial. If you hear anyone who has either ‘ninja,’ or ‘evangelist’ in their title, talking about being a millennial specialist, they’re full of it.”
  • So you two have already met? “We have to kill this idea of the convergence of art and science. … Why is that? Because art and science has always been converged. It’s really hurting our process and it’s really hurting our culture, as we’re bringing people up through education.”
  • You have to start with goals: “You want to leverage people’s habits and routines for your own nefarious marketing purposes.”

Check out the full video below:

Foster’s visit came just before the first-ever Datafront, an event that Viacom hosted at its New York City headquarters to explore the central role that data – and Viacom’s best-in-class in-house data team in particularly – increasingly play in advertising.


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