Data & Performance

The importance of data-driven creativity and what it means for marketers

Written by Ben Verschuur on 1, Deth 2021

We’re living in the age of big data. Whether we like it or not, data has become an invaluable marketing resource. We collect an unprecedented amount of data for all sorts of things: campaign building, sales forecasting, and customer retention just to name a few.

Data is often seen as a creativity killer and barrier to creative freedom because of its numeric and logical nature. Most marketers have a love-hate relationship with it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I need to think outside the box; data restricts my creativity.” 

But what if I told you that creativity and data actually go hand in hand? In fact, marketers who successfully integrate creativity and data grow their brands twice as fast compared to those who don’t, according to McKinsey. 

Unifying data and creativity

Many times, creatives and data analysts work in different teams and departments or are handled by different agencies, further widening the divide. In reality, data and creativity are actually an inseparable duo and should be treated as such. 

Data can help you be more creative by providing insights that inspire new campaigns and opportunities. It can give you a better understanding of your customers’ needs and wants, which in turn can give direction to fresh creative ideas. 87% of marketers see data as their most underutilized asset, it’s about time to change that. 

See it this way: marketing is all about building long-lasting relationships with customers. Creativity plays a huge role in this - it’s how you capture customers’ attention and leave a memorable impression. But your creative efforts need to be guided and validated. Otherwise, they become a shot in the dark. 

Time for data-driven creatives

With increasing competition and higher customer expectations, it has become all the more crucial to deepen customer relationships and differentiate your brand. Here’s how integrating data and creativity can help: 

1. Treat data and creativity as equals, but with defined roles

Unifying data and creativity stands and falls with how you define each discipline. You need to be clear about what role they play and what to expect from both. This way it will become easier to grow your brand, launch successful campaigns, and manage any disagreements. 

Let’s say you’ve got a new marketing campaign in the works. Data then plays a pivotal role in whom you can best send what, when, and at what time. Meanwhile, creatives take care of the how part and determine what that campaign should look like.

2. See data as a creative compass

Data isn’t a silver bullet. Even with the right insights, you still need to make difficult decisions and choices. Data won’t tell you what to do and how to do it, but it will certainly help you identify what not to do. Insights gained from data can give you direction on which customers to target or areas to avoid and invest in. 

For example, data can tell you which customers are quickly leaving again after specific marketing campaigns, CX interactions that are more or less valuable than others, and what the particular attributes of high-value customers are.

The creative opportunity then lies in the areas that do offer value and where your imagination, creative ideas, and solutions have the best chance to flourish.

3. Use data to maximize creativity

Implementing a data-driven creative approach can actually increase your creativity. The insights you derive from data can inspire new ideas and reveal optimization points that you might have never thought of. Creativity is key in differentiating your brand, and inspiring and engaging your customers. It’s up to you to embrace every opportunity you get. 

Looking to the (cookieless) future

Another reason to bring data and creativity together is Google’s announcement of stopping support for third-party cookies on Chrome browsers in 2023. This change will force brands to focus on owning their customer relationships and establishing connections built on engagement, trust, and authenticity. 

For years, we’ve been using data-driven (re)targeting at scale without thinking twice. Somewhere along the way, we started giving more importance to distributing and increasing the reach of our content rather than the content itself. 

It was easy and pushed the need to be creative to the back seat. 

A cookieless world requires a fundamental shift in how you approach your digital advertising. While challenging, this move presents an opportunity for the entire industry to come together and create a new system that is transparent, simplified, and better catered to customer needs. 

The way I see it, this is a positive change that will push us to be more creative and make better use of our data. Above all, it’s an opportunity to invest in building meaningful and direct customer relationships. 

Creativity has always been fundamental to how we connect and build relationships with customers. That’s not about to change. What needs to change is how we see the relationship between data and creativity. Gone are the days of pinning the two against each other. It’s time to shift the lens from data versus creativity to data-inspired creativity. 

STORY WRITTEN BY
Ben Verschuur
Head of Performance

Ben Verschuur

Head of Performance

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