Creatives Need To Lead The Data Charge

The tremendous energy brands now put into tracking and intercepting prospective customers raises the stakes on relevant, compelling communication -- because the more intimately we intrude on a person’s life with a message, the more we must make of our chance.

If all we offer is 30% off -- or yet another chance to buy that jacket they looked at weeks ago -- all our data just optimizes customer harassment. That’s a giant leap backward for our enterprise.

But if we offer a content experience with inherent brand value that makes sense for the person, our data forwards a relationship.

We can dig beyond what we know about our audiences and where we can meet them. We can use this understanding to make our advertising content valuable, by identifying why it’s worth their time and the brand’s time to interact, and when according to their interests.  

That’s a creative endeavor, not a data science exercise. It’s about delivering an experience that engages people deeply and naturally. It’s about making the brand proposition personal in implicit ways. It’s bringing the why to life for individuals.



Creatives must lead content delivery. Creatives translate consumer understanding into content for people, channels and points in time. Who better to set the parameters for where to show it?

To do that, we need the creative community to change its collective mind about data. Data isn’t the enemy; it’s the best friend we’re not listening to. And it’s telling us how we can give people positive experiences of our brands in pivotal encounters.

So we must take advantage of more data, not less. We need to stop complaining on Fishbowl about the data that’s foisted on us, and take the lead to create the insights that will inform a creative difference. Those insights reveal the dynamic and spirit of people’s interactions.

The right data provides proof of what we intuit, and often uncovers nuances that elevate campaigns. It also solves internal problems by giving clients and others within the agency something more objective than a creative director’s intuition.  

Creators need to bring planners, clients and media together around the data. This team must share the same level of intimacy about the audience, understand why the conversation we’re attempting is relevant, and appreciate how ad placements fit that strategy. So, we need to devote more time to sharing advertising throughout the team, particularly the media that are running it and the producers of the channels it’s running on, before we make a single buy.

The conversation needs to drill down through demographics and psychographics to specific viewer affinities. Is our advertising matching the tone of the content? Do we palate-cleanse a "Walking Dead" marathon with some timely and situationally aware humor? Do we tap into the comedic “won’t sell out” burger craft of "Bob’s Burgers" with a deadpan offer of food value?

This will make brands feel smarter, more in tune, and more valuable to people as they experience relevant, satisfying interactions. In the process, it can shift advertising’s data orientation: from hunting and tracking people, to serving them. When the people who have to make content that resonates step up to take the lead with data, we can put advertising on this higher plane.

3 comments about "Creatives Need To Lead The Data Charge".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 8, 2018 at 7:54 a.m.

    John, I agree with you about the need for "creatives" to better understand the significance of "data" ----but mainly for direct response campaigns. When it comes to branding campaigns--- where the advertisers does not sell most or even a large part of its volume direct ---the role of census-like "data" for every individual consumer can be very costly overkill as much of the needed information about mindsets, audience responsiveness to proposed brand positioning strategies, how well commercials deliver the message, etc. is readily available form conventional research studies

  2. John Trahar from Greatest Common Factory replied, October 12, 2018 at 9:24 a.m.

    Thanks Dan,

    To be clear, this was not a proposal to seek or advertise to “census level” individuals. Though I know many brands seek the holy grail of universal cross platform ID, I also believe most won’t know what to do  with it if/when they find it. My point is, that while most paid media is not fully transparent and not fully aware of the individual viewing it - there is plenty of data staring us in the face that is not being applied as well as it could. This includes the very simple dataset of the programming a brand chooses, presumably based on somewhat of a shared audience. Brands can choose to align with the programming chosen or interrupt it in a way that makes that brand appear clueless (as a broad example).

  3. John Trahar from Greatest Common Factory, October 12, 2018 at 9:26 a.m.

    And by “Dan” I mean Ed, sincere apologies!

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