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Creation does not suffer from data - it benefits from planning & analysis

Achim Schöneich of Analytic Partners knows why combining data and creation will be so important in the future.

Time and again we have read about the approaching death of creativity and all too often data is held responsible for it. It was only in October that Karsten Kühn, who was named CMO of the Year in 2018, said: "One should not be driven by data, but by one's own judgement". And although I am an absolute "data lover" because of my profession, I have to say: The man is absolutely right! Because it is a mistake to believe that data could replace creativity in advertising. The power of judgement mentioned by Kühn, is the decisive point on which I would like to build this article, and with which fundamental conflicts can be solved.

We work daily to determine the Return on Marketing Investment (ROI) on the basis of data and to help our customers optimize their marketing. However, I am also a big fan of creativity and am passionate about successful, creative marketing activities. For me, both belong together - but why do creative people still have reservations about data? And why is data not seen as a support for creativity, but as a counterpart?

Data instead of creativity - is a mistake

So my question is, isn't there some misunderstanding here? Should the data really replace or destroy creativity? Martin Sorrell, the former head of WPP, one of the largest advertising and agency networks, believes: "Data cannot destroy creativity".

I think the real problem is the simplified use of data and hastily drawn conclusions from it. Often, simple data sets are used quickly to make decisions that either exclude or push creative people in a certain direction. Absolutely understandable when creative people revolt against it.

Risks through simplification

A simplified use of data can lead to concentrating only on what is easy to measure. For example, easily available, digitally measurable data over-interprets the influence of digital activities. Social media strategies are also a popular focus, because "likes" and "followers" prove in a quantifiable way that you are doing something. Here, the actual benefit and insight into the measures are completely ignored: Are we doing the right thing?

The importance of a comprehensive overall view

In order to prevent simplification, all available critical elements of a campaign must be included in the analysis. Multiple variables may determine the key performance indicator. At Analytic Partners, we always start at the top level of the marketing mix: classic and digital media, social media, price, promotions with internal or third-party data, and various other factors such as long-term factors or market research results are analysed. In addition, there are external factors such as information about competitors and seasonality. In the second step, we go into detail on individual components such as spot length, campaign frequency, advertising placement and, of course, creation.

The high granularity of this approach and the analysis of the data makes it possible to show in detail how much volume was generated by which activity and how the activities influence each other. This pure data analysis results in a comprehensive overall view, not a single view, which gives all participants the opportunity to optimize the entire marketing program - and thus also the creation.

Ok, so data is important - and where is the creation?

All this sounds extremely data-driven, doesn't it? But as so often in life, the good comes to the end. Because all analytical approaches had one and the same result: When it comes to maximizing the return on investment (ROI) in the best possible way, the creation must be right. And this applies to TV (60%+) as well as Digital (30%+) and every other media channel.

For the American Advertising Research Foundation, we conducted a study on word-of-mouth propaganda in the USA. It revealed a few interesting things. Some of them were quite simple, such as that word of mouth further enhances the effect of paid media and has a faster impact than traditional advertising. It was also proven that word-of-mouth advertising, which takes place offline between real people, has significantly more influence (2/3 to 1/3) than statements made online and that a word-of-mouth contact pushes sales five times more than paid advertising. Not necessarily surprisingly, the most important driver came into play: creation.

No matter how expensive the campaign was, the quality of the creation had to convince to seduce people.

Data – correctly used and interpreted – as the friend of the creators

Marketing experts will find that poor creative execution also leads to poor data - with low or average ROIs. Without a focus on creativity, they will never be able to realize their full revenue potential. We hold our own against one of the most creative agencies in Germany, Jean-Remy von Matt: "Invent unique ideas that no algorithm can generate".

Analysis and creation in harmony in the future

Has there really been a mass death of creative ideas since Big Data's appearance? Will it come to that in the next few years? No! Because advertising is always carried by emotions. Data can show at what point in time what kind of advertising should be played out to whom - this is the analytical strength of data analysis. However, the framework defined in this way must be filled creatively. The marketing manager of "modern times" is not in fact driven by data, but is driven by it, uses comprehensive data analysis instead of simple, misleading statistics and uses creative implementation. 

A wise man in the advertising industry said decades ago, that marketing is not a science but an art. All you have to do is learn how to handle it and how to use the data like the right brush thickness to create a masterpiece.

This blog was translated from following article:

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Campaigning in the age of algorithms

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