Word on the industry street has it that Aussie marketers ought to put aside feelings of intimidation about data and, instead, embrace its findings to test their creative ideas.
After all, data-based insights can greatly enhance customer experiences; personalization is one example. Put another way, if data is the lifeblood of marketing in the digital age, creativity remains its beating heart.
Proving Creativity’s Worth
Jenny Williams, CMO of Sydney-based health insurer HCF, understands concerns about the increased use of data in marketing and advertising. Last year, Williams took part in a panel debate at an industry conference that examined whether data was killing creativity. The audience voted overwhelmingly–64%–that it wasn’t.
Williams, who was on the winning side of the argument, believes the relationship between data and creativity is complementary.
“Data doesn’t generate ideas, but it can validate ideas. Data can help inform creativity and provide insight into which ideas are more likely to work,” she said. “Creative might come up with an idea for a campaign based on a perceived market opportunity, but we now have the capability to measure the scope of that opportunity.”
The creative process has nothing to fear from the “plethora of data” derived from all aspects of business and marketing, said Dr. Ralph Kerle, a Sydney consultant and founder of the Creative Skills Training Council, a global online community of creative practitioners comprised of business leaders, academics, designers, artists, and behavioural and cognitive scientists.
“Regardless of how much data you might have, you’ve still got to interpret it to come up with a creative idea,” Kerle said.
This strategy is how HCF approached its latest marketing campaign. Phase 1 of the campaign, which was launched in January, includes metro and regional TV, digital, mobile, and out-of-home advertising. Phase 2 will include a quiz for consumers with content aimed at improving their “health intelligence.”
“Our new creative uses powerful data to make a statement about Australians’ knowledge of health. Our goal is to empower consumers to not only understand their health, but to actually make lifestyle changes that will have a positive impact,” Williams said.
When Art Meets Science
Marketers are discovering ways to use data and creative together. Mark McCraith, CEO of media agency Maxus Australia (and former marketing director at Fiat Chrysler Australia), described the relationship between data and creativity as a “pairing.”
“Creativity enables a visualisation of the data, but creative still has to come up with a proposition that cuts through,” McCraith said. “There’s always going to be outstanding creativity that is part art and part magic.”
McCraith said he believes Don Draper-like instinct still has a role in campaigns, citing Fiat Chrysler’s successful “I bought a Jeep” Australian campaign featuring women who proudly announced their new car. The campaign was an example of “trusting your gut,” he said.
But what Draper did not have at his disposal was real-time data to confirm whether his creative instincts were on the money.
“The great thing about data is that you can test and learn,” McCraith said. “Gone are the days of making a million-dollar TV ad and hoping it works. You’re better off making $1 million of content, set your KPIs, and see what works and what doesn’t.”
Don’t Forget Your Objective
Whether it excites you or intimidates you, diving into staggering amounts of data with no objective is never recommended. The takeaway: Keep your goal front of mind.
“The data might give you insight, but you still have to bring your own experience and understanding to that data to make sense of it,” Kerle explained.
Once marketers can confidently navigate data with an objective in mind, it becomes easier to adopt an agile approach where they “move away from one big idea to small ideas that can be validated,” Williams said.