The Art of Balancing Data and Creativity

28 February 2017

 “Too often, people in our industry waste time arguing over whether advertising is an art or a science. The truth is that it’s both” - Alan Schulman, Managing Director, Brand Creative and Content at Deloitte Digital. 

In recent months, there’s been a lot of talk about the idea of “data fatigue”, with marketers finding themselves drowning in a sea of bar charts, spreadsheets and pages of analysis.

A recent study found that whilst 92% of marketers acknowledged that data was key to achieving targets, 72% believed that it had negatively affected creative quality. 

In an increasingly digital world, this is unsurprising.  Talk of algorithms and artificial intelligence is now dominating most marketing decision-making, with marketers reportedly spending 14% of their working week analysing social data, digital and media data, consumer data, and sales data in order to uncover unique insights.  

So, as advertising comes to rely more on technology, we are forced to reconsider what constitutes creativity.  In other words, are we becoming too engrossed in numbers and forgetting that creativity and empathy are intrinsically linked?

Why data and creativity naturally go hand in hand

The moment when someone chooses your brand.  That’s not luck.  It’s a finely-tuned combination of analytics and inspiration.

Strategic planning is the application of thinking that goes hand-in-hand with data and statistics to plan long-term.  It has a broad focus on markets, consumers, media influencers and competitors, and involves selecting customer groups, reviewing media preferences and analysing competitor landscapes.

Throughout this process, data underpins everything, but meaningful success will only come to those who effectively amplify the information with creativity - in order to frame “the message” in a way that makes the consumer pay attention and feel motivated to take action.

Think of the human brain: although the left side is dedicated to logic and reason and the right side inspires creativity, both do not work separately from each other.  The two sides are equally important and must work together to function effectively.  This is the approach that must be adopted in marketing - information, innovation and, most importantly, collaboration being given equal attention.

Statistical and creative harmony

The key to any successful marketing campaign is the integration of data and creativity, as they both depend on each other.

Take our work with the charity Children with Cancer.  To reach their target audiences, we extensively analysed and segmented consumer databases, as well as wider market data and investment trends.  Using these insights, we were able to select the media platforms best suited to the campaign messages.

We then assessed optimal times to target specific customer segments, including key donation times, in order to achieve maximum impact and reach.  Once the media channels were agreed, the next stage was for our creative team to devise and design eye-catching ads that would grab the attention of potential donors.

In the mix, we designed a series of four very poignant TV ads, each centred on 14-year-old cancer patient Amy at a different stage of her treatment journey, from diagnosis to remission.

By fostering a personalised, emotional connection between the charity and viewers, we were able to increase brand awareness, improve digital rankings and boost donations.

Although the idea of using both data and creativity equally to drive a campaign is not a new phenomenon, it is becoming increasingly important.

Our prediction is that 2017 will be the year that the industry finally realises that whilst data is empowering, creative ideas are needed to stir feelings and propel the consumer along the journey to purchase.  Hence, they are far more effective when they are used together, rather than pitted against each other.

Accord is an award-winning marketing agency.  By combining our data profiling and media know-how, innovative technologies and digital best practice, we deliver measurable and meaningful results for our clients whilst also providing great experiences for their audiences.  To find out more about our brilliantly joined-up approach, get in touch today.