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#59 – Where Data and Storytelling Meet: Exploring Automation and Creativity with Meta’s Rob Smallwood

Watch the full episode now on YouTube.

In the latest episode of Tag Lab, Laura is joined by Rob Smallwood, Head of Industry and Media Agencies at Meta, for a deep dive into the intersection of personal growth, technology, and digital marketing.

Their discussion revolves around Rob’s journey from a film and storytelling enthusiast to a key figure in digital and social marketing at Meta, emphasising the evolution of marketing strategies in the face of technological advancements and changing consumer expectations.

The podcast offers insightful perspectives on leveraging data, storytelling, and automation to enhance marketing efforts and the importance of maintaining human connections in an increasingly digital world.

Key Topics:

  • Rob Smallwood’s Professional Journey
  • The Power of Storytelling in Marketing
  • The Role of Data and Automation in Modern Marketing
  • The Future of Consumer Engagement and the Metaverse
  • The Impact of Short Form Content on Marketing
  • Audience Building and First-Party Data in a Cookieless World
  • The Importance of Planning and Curiosity in Career Development

Rob Smallwood’s Professional Journey

Rob Smallwood shares his transition from a film and storytelling enthusiast to a prominent figure in the marketing world, highlighting his experiences across various media platforms before joining Meta.

His journey underscores the constant thread of storytelling and the evolution of marketing practices to adapt to digital advancements.

Rob emphasises the shift from traditional media to digital and social platforms, illustrating how his passion for storytelling has remained central to his career. This narrative showcases the dynamic nature of the marketing industry and the importance of adapting to change while maintaining core interests.

“Rob Smallwood on his career evolution: “the red thread of, of telling really interesting stories, to consumers has always been there.'”

The Power of Storytelling in Marketing

Delving into the essence of storytelling in marketing, Rob and Laura discuss how compelling narratives, grounded in data, can significantly impact consumer perception and decision-making.

Rob highlights Meta’s approach to blending data-driven insights with storytelling to create relatable and persuasive marketing campaigns.

This conversation sheds light on the challenge of presenting complex business models in an understandable and engaging manner, emphasising the importance of storytelling as a tool to bridge the gap between data and emotional engagement.

“Rob Smallwood on storytelling and data: ‘…sometimes data can’t win arguments. Sometimes we’ve got to be better at crafting an emotional story…'”

The Role of Data and Automation in Modern Marketing

The podcast explores the evolving landscape of marketing automation and data utilisation.

Rob discusses the balance between leveraging AI for efficiency and maintaining human creativity and strategic thinking.

The conversation touches on the future of marketing and agency roles in an automated world, underscoring the opportunities for human ingenuity to complement technological advancements.

This topic highlights the ongoing transformation in marketing strategies, driven by AI and machine learning, and the imperative for marketers to adapt and find value in new tools and approaches.

“Rob Smallwood on automation and human ingenuity: ‘…the human ingenuity and imagination needs to exist at either side of it…'”

The Future of Consumer Engagement and the Metaverse

Addressing the prospects of the metaverse and mixed reality technologies, Rob and Laura delve into the potential shifts in consumer engagement and content consumption.

They discuss the implications for traditional media and the creation of immersive, shared experiences through technological advancements.

This segment offers a glimpse into the future of marketing and entertainment, exploring how brands might interact with consumers in increasingly virtual and augmented environments.

“Rob Smallwood on the metaverse: ‘…there’s gonna be this more of a shared experience as well where multiple people can be involved…'”

The Impact of Short Form Content on Marketing

The conversation shifts to the rise of short-form content, particularly reels, and its impact on marketing and content creation.

Rob discusses Meta’s strategies to support creators and advertisers in leveraging short-form content to engage audiences effectively.

This part of the discussion highlights the changing content consumption habits and the importance of adapting marketing strategies to cater to these trends, underscoring the role of creativity and relatability in capturing consumer attention.

“Rob Smallwood on short-form content: “3.5 billion reels are shared every day, and it’s through messaging…'”

Audience Building and First-Party Data in a Cookie-less World

Exploring strategies for audience building in anticipation of cookie depreciation, Rob and Laura discuss the significance of first-party data and broad targeting approaches powered by AI.

This segment emphasises the necessity for marketers to adapt to reduced data availability by embracing machine learning and AI to identify and engage target audiences more effectively.

The discussion provides insights into the challenges and opportunities presented by the shifting digital marketing landscape, highlighting innovative approaches to audience building and data management.

“Rob Smallwood on targeting and first-party data: “go as broad as possible and let the AI find the right audience…'”

The Importance of Planning and Curiosity in Career Development

Concluding the podcast, Rob shares valuable career advice emphasising the importance of having a clear plan and maintaining curiosity. He reflects on the benefits of setting intentional goals and using a method called Vision Writing.

Vision Writing is an exercise that you fast forward to the end of the year and write down what you’ve achieved as if it’s already happened. Rob emphasises how powerful it is to be so clear about what you want to achieve both personally and professionally and the transformative impact of writing it down and sharing it with those around you.

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