Yes, Creative and Data Can Be Friends

Something strange happened at both the recent PeopleFront, as well as the PSFK conference. At the PeopleFront, focused on data-driven solutions, there was a discussion of the importance of the creative. PSFK, based on the importance of creative ideas, devoted the afternoon to big data, artificial intelligence, IBM’s Watson, cognitive computing and analytical insights.

Hey, what gives here? At the Peoplefront, Facebook Director of Ad Research Daniel Slotwiner noted that "we are all working on data strategy: data for insights, data for outcomes. But creative is one of the most important things. We can get the right eyeballs in the right time and right format — but what if it is bad content?"

At PSFK, the discussion of data was intertwined with the creativity of invention. Steven Dean, author of the book “Quantified Self,” noted that “most individuals don't know what big data means. But if it helps to build the right products, it is providing value to consumers.” Tara Greer, EVP/Executive Creative Director, platforms at DEUTSCH LA, added that we are “living in big data environment; the Internet of things involving body, health, in home, in vehicles. [For example, there are] smart chopsticks to see if you are eating reused oil.”  



How much is data impacting the creative process? For some at the PSFK conference, data helps in curating content. According to Cloth’s co-founder Seth Porges, “Big data is important when assessing different content. It can help curate content for you.” For others it is a gut check. Dean says that he “thinks about the data, but I opt for experiences that are narrative and storytelling -- not numbers. I must make meaning out of the data that is there.”

But when does data cross over the line? How much is too much? Greer explained that there is a “gap between big data and big wisdom. Measurement used to be an epiphany, but there are challenges to move beyond the data to create meaningful experiences.” Porges added, “You run the risk of losing taste when you apply too much data. [You] need a chance to experiment outside the data.”

There is a “big moral question” regarding data privacy, according to Greer. “More people are cognizant today, but years ago big data was utopian. Now there is a big rebellion against big data,” she said. Dean admitted that “there are some aspects of my life that I would not like to leave up to an algorithm, like what should I eat, for example.” In a perfect, more on-demand world, data could be used as a benevolent influencer. Tegan Faan, founder of Gigit, said, “Data in an algorithm can give me simplicity. It can make my life simpler and match people to their unique interests. Personalization.”

In my experience, creative and quant have had a love/ hate relationship. Research could be held up by creators as a vindication of their gut instincts — or a report card of their lacking performance. But I have always felt that the two disciplines are intertwined.  If data is the messenger, it is the content that forms the message. Without either, you just have meaningless noise.

Next story loading loading..