Data and Creativity: The New Cosy Bedfellows

During my first two days at the Cannes Festival of Creativity 2015, I found myself drawn into six different conversations about data and how it is being used to inform and shape creativity. I was genuinely surprised. I mean, this entire week-long extravaganza is all about celebrating great ideas and wonderful creative craftsmanship, no?

It got me thinking about the core meaning of all this; this is clearly much more than a fad, this is a profound and pervasive trend that is sweeping through the entire industry.

As our business moves increasingly digital and we all get more technologically skilled and capable, we have a rapidly expanding ability to capture and measure every single conceivable type of interaction.  And there is no end to what we can now find out if we put our mind to it. Engagement metrics, dwell time, GPS location data, media consumption data, transaction data, platform usage data, device usage data – the list is endless! You name it, you can measure it.

The key is to be able to interpret these endless streams of data at our disposal and develop true innovative insights that are going to help inform better and more effective creative work. Data is no substitute for smarts and intuition, but it needs to be taken into consideration across every program or platform we deliver.

The simple truth today is that when it comes to developing breakthrough creative ideas and new platforms, you can’t afford not to make your data strategy front and center in your thinking.

And the reason for all this, of course, is because our consumer is changing rapidly as well. The days of simple disruption are gone, our customers are way too smart and digitally savvy, so they know how to screen out messages that disrupt them. Today, we have to engage and add value and entertain. 

Today’s marketing buzzwords; personalized, contextualized, timely, relevant, useful - are here for a reason. It’s what our increasingly sophisticated customer is demanding, and they can only be delivered through a smart, disciplined and somewhat quixotic combination along with data and creativity. 

These ever-growing sources of data can help inform creative approaches on tone, message, offer, engagement, and content. It can help sharpen our message, enhance our content, embed our technologies, build loyalty, and create advocacy. What data can’t do – and should never be used to do – is to take over and become a default decision engine.  Great ideas still come from smart, talented people. Great ideas will always be the true value multiplier for our clients. Data needs to be used as part of the process of getting to, enhancing and executing great ideas. 

We all better get used to it because it’s here to stay. It’s not an oxymoron in my book. I think data and creativity make great bedfellows!

1 comment about "Data and Creativity: The New Cosy Bedfellows".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 25, 2015 at 4:46 p.m.

    While it makes sense to supply a "creative" working on a digital ad campaign lots of data indicating the the probable targets of his/her positioning strategy and, once the ads are "served", what kinds of electronic responses said ads may have generated---dwell time, CTR, etc----it seems to me that all of this is rather obvious and advertisers and their agencies who ignore such information are not very savvy.

    On the branding side "creatives" are routinely supplied with data concerning the demos, mindsets, and other relevant information about potential targets. Also, their ideas about product positioning and, later, about how to translate these into effective TV commercials, are, as a rule, carefully pre-tested----again, providing more data. Finally, once a campaign airs, its ability to generate awareness, whether it is wearing out and, ultimately, any correlations between ad exposure and sales are also evaluated----even more data.

    So why are we getting so excited about data and creativity? Of course data is important----but people have to interpret the data and determine whether it is really telling us anything we didn't already know or whether it provides a complete picture. Such determinations are up to people, not computers.

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