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Is marketing data stifling creativity?

In marketing there's a continuing fascination with 'last-click' attribution.

Digital marketing has allowed marketers to and analyse more and more of what they do online.

One of the many advantages of this is that it enabled growth in marketing budgets. Real world digital marketing data provided a good rationale for an increase in spend. However, much of this additional spend has been directed at digital channels - primarily to 'bottom of the funnel' activity.

As marketers, we should know that all customer touchpoints influence buying decisions, yet we seem to have ignored this and focused only on the last click (probably because ‘top of the funnel’ activity is more difficult to measure).

The Creative Director of TMW Unlimited recently observed with respect to social advertising, that following the data had helped cultivate a best practice which focused on creating shorter and shorter ads where the brand name appeared earlier and earlier. A kind of 'drop and run' approach which is the opposite of what makes advertising great - the surprising, the unknown and the never-seen-before.

In other words, creativity was being stifled by best practice.

If we let that last click 'functionality' or best practice data rule our thoughts we are limiting our creativity and risk the chance of 'squashing' the spontaneous, different or interesting - the qualities that have brought us some of the most succesful marketing and advertising. Think of successful and memorable advertising campaigns like Budweiser’s ‘Wassup’, Nike’s ‘Just do it.’ and Apple’s ‘Get a Mac’.

We need to be mindful that there's a danger that our preoccupation with the ‘facts’ might lead to us forgetting about the ‘feelings’ we need to evoke in target audiences to really grab their attention, desire, interest and action.

Whilst the facts and figures are important, we must remember that in advertising great David Ogilvy's words, "what really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.” The creative treatment of any piece of marketing communication is arguably the most vital element so we must invest time and effort in it and make sure that it engages with audiences on an emotional level.

Good creative is important for driving success:

  • Nike's 'Just do it.' campaign in the late 80's saw revenues rise from $800m in 1988 to over $9.8 billion in 1998.
  • With the help of it's 'Get a Mac' TV campaign Apple experienced 42% growth in market share in its first year

To read more about data and creativity in marketing click here.


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