Data doesn’t kill creativity, it demands it

paul sinkinson

In this guest post Paul Sinkinson, vice president Analytic Partners, argues that good data demands better creativity to make it work.

I’’ve been reading more and more articles and posts about the death of creativity and many writers are naming ‘data’ as the culprit.

In the recent Mumbrella post “’Will 2016 be the year Australian creativity died?’”, marketers were divided into creativity-led marketers or data-led marketers. The data-led marketer is apparently led more by fear of failure, a mindset that translates into safer work.

As a data professional, and indeed someone who focuses on analytics to evaluate Marketing ROI, I think this points to a problem with simplistic use of data and what it can tell us about marketing.

A simple data set might mean you start focusing on the things that are easily measured. For instance, you might be motivated to invest more in digital, as you can track that. Another behaviour I have seen is an overweight focus on a social media strategy – because counting “Likes” and “Followers” is an easy metric and it proves that “we a’re ‘doing something’.”

However that misses the real insight: are you doing the right thing?

My work involves using complex analytics to establish how much volume has been driven by what activity – be it marketing or other. We can then look at different parts of the executions (say duration, size, weight, etc.) to work out what is driving better results and come up with some ‘optimisations’ of the marketing program. All that sounds pretty data-centric so far, right?

But all these analytic approaches come up with the same insight – the single greatest ROI uplift opportunity is the creative. It’’s true for TV (60%+ of upside driven by this), it’’s true for digital (30%+), it’’s true for every media channel.

data paul sinkinson creativity

It goes further than this, though. We ran a landmark study on “Word of Mouth” in the US that was presented at The Advertising Research Foundation and this demonstrated a few things, some obvious – such as that word of mouth amplifies the effect of paid media and that it has a more immediate impact than traditional advertising.

Some of the ‘new’ insight that came out generated a lot of discussion – such as offline word of mouth drives much more impact than online (two-thirds vs one-third), but also that one word of mouth impression drives at least five times more sales than a paid advertising impression.

Not surprisingly what’’s the number one driver of the word of mouth impact? The creative. Regardless of the spend behind the campaign, the quality of the creative is king.

As marketers becomes more data-led and move past simplistic metrics they will realise that data will keep punishing them for poor creative – with low or average ROIs for their work, never realising all the opportunities identified for them.

So, “true” data, no matter how big, shows that the single biggest opportunity for Australian marketers to focus on in 2016 is their creative. Hopefully it means 2016 isn’’t the year that Australian creativity dies, and maybe data had a hand in that.



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