In our data-obsessed world, it can be tempting to question the value of creative. Some see design as little more than window dressing for what’s really feeding the bottom line. Others argue that creative – not data – drives marketing success.

But debates about which is more important are missing the point.

The mysterious alchemy of creativity and the bits and bytes of intelligence about consumers’ every online experience may seem like competing forces. But creativity and data exist in a symbiotic relationship that simply wouldn’t work without the contributions of both.

At the heart of the relationship? Insights.

Creative has always been the backbone of campaigns, even when collecting vast stores of data wasn’t possible. But the best creative was built around customer insights. Creatives gleaned insights however they could, relying on focus groups, customer feedback and often, gut instinct.

These insights weren’t always accurate, but they were all we had.

Today, our insights are infinitely more powerful. We know how, when and where consumers are responding to marketing messages. We even know what colors they prefer, what fonts draw them in and what specific words and images get them to click.

But data alone is only half of the equation. I can grab a data scientist, give him access to volumes of comprehensive audience data, and ask him to create an ad campaign. There’s no question in my mind that the audience would ignore whatever he came up with. That’s where creative comes in.

Super-charged creative

Design has one purpose: to communicate. Creative design ensures your campaign delivers the right message to your target audience. But even the best creative won’t work if it doesn’t connect to your audience.

That’s why designers need data. Instead of jumping into a creative idea based on hunches, creatives can now leverage data to understand customer likes, dislikes and motivations. Data is a tool that can “super-charge” a good idea, turning it into a message that gets noticed.

The relationship between creative and data just works. How?
  1. IDEATION. Data provides creatives with meaningful insights during the critical early stages of campaign planning – uncovering audience likes, dislikes and more. These insights lead to creative that’s tailored specifically for the target audience
  2. MESSAGE DELIVERY. Creatives can then help deliver a targeted campaign message that connects with the audience in a meaningful, eye-catching way — without being intrusive.
  3. SHAPING BETTER OUTCOMES. Data collected from the campaign, once analyzed, will feed into future campaigns. Creatives can strengthen the creative on a dynamic basis to better align it to their audience.

It’s a continuous loop of data, insights and creativity. And if leveraged properly, it drives constant performance improvement.

Keeping the relationship healthy

For most marketers, millions of pieces of data are a lot to consume. To make that data valuable, you need a good team of data analysts to interpret it.

Working with your creative team, data analysts will help you test these insights. You can start pulling data as soon as you launch a campaign, and then look at it on a weekly (or monthly or quarterly) basis to optimize it as you go.

Bottom line – creative and data work together to help you understand your audience and to translate that understanding into measurable results. And neither can exist without the other.

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Posted by Manuel Moreta

Manuel started his digital advertising career as a web designer and front end developer before transitioning to hold senior roles across Theorem. Since then he has been in charge of managing and leading Theorem creative services teams and key creative accounts. He is currently responsible for directing and overseeing the delivery of our creative services across Theorem’s global operation. Get in touch with Manuel.

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