Is Data Killing Creativity? No… And Here’s Why. (at the Oracle Modern Marketing Experience)

Is Data Killing Creativity? No... And Here's Why.

There’s no question that the future of marketing will continue to place an increasingly higher value on the presence of data than ever before. Today, 78% of marketers say that data-driven marketing is either embedded or strategic in their organizations, according a 2015 Teradata Report. Meanwhile, 87% of marketers say they consider data the most underutilized asset in marketing organizations.

With so much of modern marketing focused on data-driven optimization, personalization and automation, many marketers find themselves asking: “Is data killing creativity?” Modern Marketing Experience Presented by Oracle

At Oracle’s Modern Marketing Experience in Las Vegas, I joined forces with my client, Christine Woodhouse of Eaton, to present our perspective on exactly that question: a resounding “No.” In fact, what I’ve found across my client roster, including with our great collaborators at Eaton, is that data, in fact, is a powerful amplifier of creativity.

Value of Data And Creativity
Given the rising tide of data in marketing, most marketers are familiar with the value of incorporating data-driven decision-making. McKinsey puts the value of the practice in clear terms: marketers that make data-driven decisions enjoy a 15-20% increase in ROI versus those who don’t.

Meanwhile, the impact of the right creativity and the right time has also been widely noted. McDonald’s sees a 54% increase in ROI with creative that wins Cannes Lions. Heineken generates 11 times more market share growth with campaigns that are creatively awarded. The Cannes Lions even released a study charting the business impact winning the Titanium Grand Prix has had on brands over a 6-year period.

Making It Work Both Ways
One of the reasons marketers – especially agencies’ creative departments – may feel that data is killing creativity is that, too often, we make decisions and determinations myopically. Indeed, data does create a wicked temptation to optimize and never to innovate. In other words, marketers often create data-driven test models (like multivariate creative testing) that narrow creative expression down to the best performing elements. That can lead to an obsession with simply running that creative unless and until performance begins to falter. Which can mean no new – or bold business ideas.

To get the best of data and creativity, we’ve hit an approach that we think makes both perspectives work hard for us:

  1. Identify the right opportunity to create an initiative that can benefit form both data and creativity. Often times, a brand study, funnel analysis or market analysis can help identify the opportunity.
  2. Insight generation is the next step in the process – a wonderful process of analyzing quantitative and qualitative inputs in order to land on an audience-driven approach to solving business problems.
  3. Ideation should be a purely creative step in the process, stimulated by insights and fueled by inspiration.
  4. Implementation is when data comes back into the picture, allowing marketers to execute in an optimal way. In this step, ideas are refined as they are operationalized in order to ensure efficacy and that they benefit from the power of data. Marketers can do this in several ways, ranging from leveraging historical data, creating data-driven test and learn opportunities or even pre-testing concepts prior to full launch.

Eaton & Jack Morton Win Oracle MarkieIn a future post, I’ll share how this finely balanced machine worked hard for our clients at Eaton. But to give you a sneak peek, I’ll just say that our data-driven work for Eaton’s My IT Empire campaign was just awarded the 2015 Markie for Most Creative Campaign. Here’s to a future full of creativity and data living harmoniously together… making one another more powerful forces in the modern marketing landscape.

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