As we start the new year, we are entering the age of data-driven creative strategies. Including data as an input into the creative cycle will allow current trends, consumer sentiment, real-time behavior and attitudinal response to be interwoven into creative thinking, thus making a campaign more relevant, dynamic and effective.
Data can enhance creative in major ways throughout the creative lifecycle. Here are three major ways data can help:
1. Help with design. The science of understanding how brands and products are perceived by the consumer is as old as marketing itself; however, current techniques allow marketers to quickly get a real-time pulse and dive deeper into the consumers’ psyche. The following tools can provide help with design:
Syndicated research – data available through a host of syndicated tools, including comScore, MRI and Simmons will start to profile demographics and behaviors of your target audience.
Social listening – unbiased scrape of the social web to get a pulse on buzz, sentiment, and sharability of a trend, brand or product. Get a sense of what is being discussed, what might the completion be doing and what is perceived to be old news. Are influencers promoting these discussions?
Search insights – pick-up the latest searched trends and keywords. Evaluate the trends by segment (region, time-frame, industry, audience or category). Look to see if your creative buzz words are already being searched for?
Website deep dive – if you focus research around a few coveted websites, see if traffic is picking-up/down. Who is coming to these Web properties, and from where?
Panels & polls – selected panels that operate as sandboxes for bouncing new ideas. Polls are more efficient than focus groups since you can poll hundreds -- even thousands -- of users on key sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) quickly and virtually for free
2. Help with pre-market concepts. Once developed, creative concepts need to be aligned with media and the individual consumer -- in other words, personalized. Personalized creative can be as simple as aligning creative concepts to specific media channels, since we know media consumption varies from person to person. A more advanced option is to personalize creative to the consumer; this has been done before. Check out your latest credit card offer from Chase. I bet it has your name and a lot more detail than a display ad has on your favorite site.
Among the tools helpful at this stage:
Media consumption analysis – run basic analyses using comScore or another planning tool to define how your audiences align to media channels.
Message testing – now that you have refined your message, test how it performs in the real world. Run a limited in-market test or test messages using a mini PPC search campaign and test multiple versions.
Attitudinal response – leverage syndicated online panels to critique your work. Validate against a control concept and verify that response is statistically different
3. Help with in-market optimization. Once your creative is in market, the process of refinement kicks into overdrive. You need to adopt a constant process of smart ongoing creative experimentation and refinement to stay fresh and relevant. Do the following:
Creative testing – there are three creative elements to test: format, message and offer. Leverage experimental design to establish the appropriate test. Approaches to testing range from simple A/B to complex multivariate testing.
Audience validation – At the start of your creative ideation, you thought you knew the target audienc, but it is time to validate your assumption. Several online vendors offer audience validation tools that allow you to track how your creative properties index against your key audiences. If the audience has shifted, great! That means you have acquired net new segments (but only if you followed steps 1 & 2 in designing your creative to begin with, else it may mean you were wrong in your assumption).
By leveraging these three steps, you can create an online personalized experience supported by creative alignment to your audience needs/wants. Proper assignment of creative concepts to media channels, and constant monitoring and testing, will ensure that your creative is personalized and effective.