The New Creatives Are Data Geeks Too

Cannes is about creative, but this year the creative conversation is laced with something more than rosé – it’s laced with talk of how data can finally be used to influence the creative process.

Reviewing the presentations and listening to the sidebar conversations around this week, it’s clear everyone is on board the data train.  Media people led this way of thinking, but the creative minds are embracing the idea that creative can be improved when you know exactly who you’re talking to, and when you can prove the value of those conversations during a campaign or after the fact.  

There was resistance from the creative sector in the past because there was pushback around the execution of data-driven creative (and for obvious reasons). The simple idea that dominated the day was dynamic creative, with multiple images dropped into a template execution, but that was too simplistic to scale and to engage the industry at scale. That was stage 1.  Stage 2 is significantly more advanced, providing a more innovative opportunity for creative thinkers to put their ideas to good use.



The most advanced data-driven creative would allow the creative department to explore multiple executions, each being delivered to sub-segments of the broader audience, tailored via analytics that surface insights into the motivations of the consumer. For example, with CPG, you can pursue both price and taste and even health benefits, depending on the interests and behaviors of the audience you’re trying to reach. You can implement a multi-pronged attack that emphasizes and/or de-emphasizes different characteristics of your brand depending on the insights you have for your audience.  This subtle change in strategy allows you to cast a wider net, not being forced to exclude some elements of the audience because of concerns about scale.  

Even better, with targeting data you can follow that audience across devices, determining if their behaviors are indicative of a change in motivations and revising the path for the customer journey they’re following.  These kinds of in-flight optimizations are impossible without data, but significantly easier when you layer data into the tech platforms that are beginning to dominate the advertising ecosystem.  

Agencies used to avoid the conversation about data-driven creative for fear of losing margin on highly developed, big-idea-oriented campaigns and the production costs associated with them. But this kind of customizable, segmented approach actually creates an opportunity for more creative to be developed, which balances out the increased pressure on margins.

Regardless of the success or failure of dynamic creative, executing sub-campaigns under a master concept creates the chance to develop more diverse options and optimize in an ongoing fashion.  The intelligent creative shop will recognize that pressure on margins can be battled with proof of concept by in-campaign measurement and the need to develop additional high-quality creative executions to pursue the diversity of motivations for the audience.  In other words, although each ad might cost less, you can create more of them!

The creative renaissance is nearly upon us, and data is (surprisingly) driving it forward.  But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the conversations going on around you all this week, and watch the press for reporting of what people are talking about.  You’ll see it for yourself!

5 comments about "The New Creatives Are Data Geeks Too".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, June 24, 2015 at 11:58 a.m.

    This is Spot On and the primary driver as to why $40B of the $70B TV ad pie will go to Mobile.

  2. Frank D'Angelo from FXD consulting, June 24, 2015 at 11:58 a.m.

    i'm not sure we are as  close to "creatives" embracing the data driven advertising world we live in as your column suggests. Especially creatives for TV centric branded advertisers. I do applaud your evangelism, however, for what is now possible with latest data and technology advancements in targeting and measurement of TV centric, cross media integrated campaigns. However, in my view, as long as "creative" expenditures are considered "non-working" advertising dollars by advertiser CFO's and advertising agency purchasing execs, there is still a ways to go IMO.The relgulation of "creative" under the banner of "non-working" advertising dollars is the biggest inherent and insidious barrier that exists to overcome for the wonderful opportunities you describe to be implemented as common practice. But I agree the time is right for creatives to take back their just place at the table of data driven advertising.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 24, 2015 at 1:18 p.m.

    Maye the "creatives" who work on digital ads will become data geeks, especially for non-branding campaigns---- but that's not in the cards for branding advertising, at least not even close to the extent that some are predicting----or, perhaps, a better word is "preaching".

    As for mobile capturing $40 billion from "linear" TV ad budgets, that is another "impossible dream". By the way, didn't a large agency guru predict on Media Post last year that "programmatic buying" would represent 50% of all media buys this year? It's not even close to that for digital, is it? Is anyone keeping score on these forecasts?

  4. Ned Newhouse from Conde Nast , June 25, 2015 at 8:11 a.m.

    Cory this is a thoughtful endorsement to creative that inspires people and their sensitivities, vs a one size fits all approach to advertising. This is the real offering of html5 ad creative ad systems like Celtra, Flite etc that allow for on the fly content re-creation rather than the actual building of different ads.  

  5. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, June 25, 2015 at 12:54 p.m.

    Frank 18 minutes of Ads + 42 minutes of TV Content is NOT a winning strategy for Mobile.

    Ed please read the recent  VZ/AOL announcemnents. That's where the $40B comes from.

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