Big Data and the Creative Dividend
We know that personalisation is planted firmly in the crossroads of data and creativity. But how often do we consider which our businesses are favouring? What we lead with? And, most critically, if a sudden shift in focus onto the former has any impact on our support for the latter, and what that might mean for our companies.
Maybe it sounds odd to hear the conversation framed in this manner. Most of the time we wouldn’t expect these two concepts to be at odds. Big Data for marketers is just a tool to help us manage our creative marketing endeavours, a technical improvement to a pre-existing system: Our marketing doesn’t have to be fundamentally challenged by Big Data; it can serve in either a transformative or complementary role as we so choose.
But marketing has been disrupted in a big way by Big Data, and the raw power of the data at our fingertips can be hard to grasp. And in trying to make use of these new capabilities, we run the risk of developing tunnel vision, of seeking clarity for clarity’s sake, and often, the first casualty of this pursuit is creativity: the sort of intuitive marketing that works because it’s finely attuned to the way we think and perceive, not necessarily because it’s laser-targeted at our key audience.
If it even needs to be said, none of this is to dispute the new regime of analytics-driven marketing. The present generation of marketers, including myself, cut our teeth on the opportunities presented by all of this data. Numbers-driven marketing is infinitely more accurate and responsive than anything we’ve had at our fingertips in the past.
But what we have to keep in mind—what’s critical to understanding the role of creativity in contemporary marketing—is that although good marketing is accurate, great marketing is magnetic. For all of our analytical capacity to identify our targets, to understand our customers, and to make transparent our marketing funnel, truly sublime marketing generates desire, rather than merely unveiling it. This is the real goal of our trade, and it always has been. Analytics can’t supplant that. But it can assist it.
Personalisation provides us with a perfect example of this process. We know from experience (and instinct) that merely holding a mirror up to the consumer’s activity is no way to endear them to our brand. Rather, this tends to repel them—no one wants to be watched unnecessarily. Intelligent, intuitive application of personalisation is about finding the places where consumers want it—where they need a guidepost, where they’d like social integration, where they want a space to be customised. Finding these points of contact is more art than science, and that’s why creatively minded companies and brands continue to be market leaders in the high information age.
And as difficult as it may be to quantify creativity in the workplace, we can certainly quantify its footprint. To that end, Adobe recently commissioned a study to explore the creative dividend: how creativity impacts business culture, market share, and growth. And the takeaway could not be clearer. Although almost all senior management considers creativity to be a business virtue, almost two in three believe that their business is not creative. The practices defined as fostering creativity centre around company leadership setting primary creative goals, in functional project management and more generally in company culture, as well as customer interaction and collaboration.
These creative companies outnumber and outperform their competitors, commanding a greater market share and, consistently, a higher rate of growth. What we learn from this study, then, is that analytics and data have only given companies more avenues down which to focus their creative energies. Those that take these opportunities reap the rewards in deeply tangible ways. And those that don’t miss out.
Should you be interested in finding out more about the Creative Dividend and what this means for Marketers you are welcome to join my colleague Alex Amado, Senior Director, Creative & Media at Adobe and Laura Ramos, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Inc, to run through the research via a creative dividend webinar. It is scheduled for the 29th of January, at 3pm here in the UK (4pm for western Europe).