Is Data Killing Creativity?

The world of advertising is ever evolving. What was once the king format is now tomorrow’s afterthought. 

Remember the days your creative was strong, your message would stand out from the crowd and get 90% reach?  For better or worse, it is no longer good enough to just have an effective copy and buying a heavy weight TV plan.

We now need to know what is the best time, place and mood for the consumer to be in to effectively take in our ad. Effective data generates stronger insights for our clients and as we move further into a world that merges business and technology it is vital that our clients are at the forefront of this change. But you may ask yourself, ‘Self? What is more important, the quality of the idea or the data that we use?’

Strong opinions are merging on both sides of the coin, but we are asking is data in fact killing creativity?

The Pros and Cons

Data is information that can be used to support decisions based on past trends or understanding who our consumer is. It is a tool that can help us understand what was cool last year, when it was cool, who found it cool, which audiences are most receptive to our ad, and on what time of day or week. This data is rich and can be used to land on a creative territory and give us planning principles for our media plan. 

One could say, data has become the holy grail and people no longer want to think about how the consumer may react to the ad or which formats may be the most impactful. Taking data at face value can sometime lead us down a very impersonal and forgettable route which does resonate at all with people.

From a creative point of view, data is boring. It is constant numbers and analytics and reporting and takes away from creative freedom. What is the point in making an effective and engaging ad if we already know when the consumer will be at their most attentive? In that case a generic ad is all we need.

Where do we stand?

It is impossible to ignore how big a player data has become in the marketing sector; but data is not the be all and end all tool that will help us revolutionise our clients’ business. Melanie Johnston of DDB Canada provided the following excerpt to demonstrate the potential of data working with creative: 

“Data helps to identify the precise consumer need at any given moment in the journey, and also prioritizes the most appropriate channel for message delivery. However, every message needs to be framed in a way that makes the consumer pay attention and feel motivated enough to take action. This is where creativity plays a huge role. Creative ideas are needed to stir feelings and propel the consumer along the journey to purchase.  It’s this beautiful partnership of data and creativity that transforms generic needs into specific brand purchases.”

Rather than looking at data and creative as two sides of a coin maybe we need to look at them as Ying and Yang. At this stage, we cannot have one without the other. Data can help us to uncover new valuable insights which can then be used to deploy creative, delivering the right message at the right time to the right people at the right moment.  Reversely, creativity give us the ability to use things like humour and emotion in our ads which helps lead to well thought out creative and activation that has cut through in market.

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