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Data versus creativity – can one exist without the other?

Cola Programmatic Cans BlueVenn

For centuries, scientists and artists have held differing outlooks on life. While one strives for rational, objective truth, the other believes in subjective expression. It’s no different in the world of marketing, where these seemingly conflicting groups continue their tumultuous relationship with a struggle between data science and groundbreaking creativity.

Data undoubtedly underpins all marketing activity: it tells you who and where your customers are, how they’ve engaged with you in the past and which of your products and services are most relevant to them. More so, data can now begin to predict the likely next action, best product, lifetime value and more.

At a more granular level, data is becoming the driving force behind all your campaigns. It will tell you a group of people from a geographical location over a certain age are more likely to book a holiday to the Maldives in February. It will tell you what they’re willing to pay for a hotel, allow you to track the device they will probably be using when they receive your message and perhaps even what they’re likely to do on their holiday.

Putting such weight in data requires accuracy. Using untrustworthy data can have hugely undesirable consequences such as addressing an email to the wrong name, drawing incorrect conclusions about a customer’s preferences, sending a delivery driver to the wrong address or even derailing the efforts of your sales team. All can damage customer service and satisfaction, brand reputation and marketing efficiency.

While a squeaky-clean database and impeccable segmentation is crucial to delivering a personalized message to the right person, it’s worth remembering that data on its own will rarely engage. Exceptional marketing needs a base of rational thought, complemented with the ability to evoke an emotional reaction.

This is where creativity MUST still come into play – the words and imagery and video and design elements that can educate or entertain, bringing form to the function. Data will tell marketers where to place a call to action button but encouraging a response will make them more likely to click it.

That said, without the direction of data even the most ingenious campaign, piece of content or advert is going to get lost in the noise and fail to make any impact on your customers or your profits. It you want your marketing campaigns to stand out from the rest, you’re going to need a balance of both. Data may well make a message personal, but only with creative input will it become personable.

How programmatic blends data and creativity

Playing a large role in the future of marketing is programmatic advertising. Although heavily data-driven, it presents a very interesting opportunity to deliver dynamic and engaging content.

When advertisers first started using programmatic, it was as a way of using an individual’s online behavior to decide which advertisements are served to them. For example, showing a film fan who reads movie review sites an advert for the latest blockbuster showing at the cinema geographically closest to them. However, many marketers felt that this tactic relied too much on automation and killed any creativity.

On the contrary, programmatic has the potential to be very exciting. One great example of this would be Coca-Cola. In the summer of 2015, the soft drink company launched what it claims was the” world’s first fully personalized TV campaign”.

Delivered to viewers of the UK's 4oD catch-up TV platform, Coke used a piece of data (the user’s sign-in name) to create a personalized tagline that showed four million subscribers their individual name on a Coca-Cola bottle at the end of the ad.

Another popular example is deodorant brand Axe’s ‘Romeo Reboot’ ad. This ambitious campaign, launched in Brazil, showed consumers a video that was a modern take on Shakespeare’s tragic love story.

Using data collected about their musical tastes and consumption preferences, the video shown could change based on how the viewer had been segmented, offering them one of 100,000 different variations of the trailer that altered the soundtrack, setting or plotline.

The rise of subscription-based , on-demand television gives rise to a huge explosion of programmatic advertising over the coming years and marketers will need to find ways to incorporate the results of programmatic advertising into their overall customer journey alongside clicks, opens, web sessions, device usage, transactions and mobile app usage.

The data must then inform the creative to create perfectly targeted marketing that is both creative, personal and engaging.

Perhaps by next year, Coca-Cola won’t just know my name, it’ll show me a bottle of my preferred Diet Coke, too!

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