A Wake-Up Call for Creatives Plagued by Data Disdain

Opinion: Data and creativity are not enemies, but rather, the best of friends

Data is so powerful that it sometimes creates a fear and hatred of itself flyfloor/iStock

There has been a lot of talk circulating lately condemning certain evolutions in advertising. Many creatives have begun to claim passionately that modern advertising is a sad shell of the past, having lost its imagination and spark, its ability to dream and its originality.

And to whom do they credit much of the blame? Data.

Data is so powerful that it sometimes creates a fear and hatred of itself among members of the marketing community—aka data disdain. As a lover of both creativity and data, I feel the need to debunk some myths about data becoming a concern among creatives. So, lets dive right in, shall we?

Myth: Data is killing creativity. Fact: Data helps us do creative better.

Some creatives see data as a way to depress ideas, forcing them to think inside the box and operate under tight restrictions. Well, I’ll admit it: We do need to think inside the box—the data box. To put it in creative speak, we need to work with a much tighter and specific brief of information.

We as marketers must always maintain our creative spirit and passion, but thanks to modern-day data, we can now adjust our ideas to fit what data is showing us. By doing so, we are more efficiently and accurately reaching our target consumers in ways that resonate with them.

Simply put, data is not a complex jumble of numbers, but rather a direct feedback loop for our creative effort’s performance, showing us insight into real human responses.

Our team at Ansira was working with a fast-food delivery client that was trying to implement all of these very creative ideas in the social channel. When we analyzed data, we found that the company’s consumers responded best to user-generated content.

Basically, the consumers preferred seeing pictures of real food over some frou frou, full-blown creative campaign because the campaign could not connect with why consumers cared about the brand.

Realizing this not only helped the company increase its social content performance, it also saved time and money—which brings us to our next myth.

Myth: Data is used to cut corners. Fact: Effectively using data can cut costs and save time.

See above. Listen to the data. Saving time and money is a result of using data efficiently, not an attempt to slack in creative. If we can give the consumers what they want while saving time and money simultaneously, why wouldn’t we? Work smarter, not harder.

Myth: Advertisers use data because they are chickens. Fact: Data helps us avoid costly mistakes.

Those suffering from data disdain argue that advertisers cling to data as a crutch because they are too scared to take risks and experiment.

I believe that in marketing, real, cold-hard facts are better than any emotional gut feeling. Why take uncalculated risks in an age where we have data to help guide our decisions? Data is not a crutch—It’s a tool to help ensure that our ideas are staying on track with what consumers really want.

Myth: Data isn’t capable of creating emotions. Fact: Data allows us to create more meaningful connections.

Creatives denying data claim that it can’t make a person “feel something.” Au contraire: Data can be used to pinpoint how individual consumers think and feel, and with this advanced insight, we can better market to unique consumer segments.

Thanks to data, we can design ads based around unique consumers to create not just any emotion, but the exact emotion that resonates best with our target audience.

So, there you have it — data debunked. Data is one of the most powerful tools we as marketers have. It has helped to raise the standard in advertising, allowing us to get the most accurate results. It is a reflection of consumers wants, needs and expectations, and thanks to data, we can now reach consumers how and where they want to be reached.

In truth, each brand is different, and consumers respond differently to how products are creatively messaged. This is why we need data to show us that for those different objectives in messaging, creative needs should be adjusted through various aspects of the traditional sales funnel of awareness, consideration and conversion.

Data-driven marketing is the wave of the future, and we as marketers must embrace it. I am not saying creative is any less than data. They both play a very important role in reaching consumers, and in order to win, we need both data and creativity, working hand-in-hand.

Data and creativity are not enemies, but rather, the best of friends. Stop living in data denial. Open your eyes, and stir the melting pot.

David Pierpont is senior vice president of performance media at data-driven marketing agency Ansira.