AdWeek Europe: Smart Use Of Data Means Creatives Can Take More Risks

The rise of data isn’t stifling creativity. It’s actually helping creatives take more risks.

AdWeek Europe: Smart Use Of Data Means Creatives Can Take More Risks

Data and creativity are not in opposition. In fact, data is liberating creatives to take more risks. And thinking about data versus creative is an outdated and potentially risky approach.

These were some of the key ideas to emerge from the Advertising Week Europe session “Data & Creativity: Who Holds The Power?” John Travis, VP marketing EMEA at Adobe, argued that not only is data giving marketers more insight, it’s giving them more credibility with the board (Adobe is’s parent company).

“In the old days, you’d pitch a campaign to your boss, and you’d basically have to say ‘trust me.’ Now marketers can prove their value through data, it puts them in a much stronger position. I can take more risks because I have more credibility in my company.

“I can also test ideas and iterate,” he added. “I don’t have to run a TV campaign for four months and hope it works. Now I can put ideas out and see how they perform. And that empowers creativity.”

The question of risk was also highlighted by Krane Jeffery, head of digital solutions at broadcaster RTL Group.

“Data can de-risk some of the leaps of faith made in wanting to create great content,” he said. “The bifurcation of creative and data is a bit of a danger. You need to bring them together to use data to de-risk the creative decisions, but you need to keep taking the risks.”

Leyton Han, CEO of travel marketing and insights platform Adara, concurred.

“Data is a way to evaluate creativity,” he said. “Look at Netflix, for example. Their decision to go ahead with House Of Cards was based on viewer behaviour data.”

A question about whether great campaigns start with data or creativity led to an illustration from Ann Wixley, ECD at media agency OMD, of how the old way of thinking about data and creativity in opposition is unhelpful.

“You need to understand the problem or the business goal, then for a hypothesis and dive into the data to test it,” she said. “But spotting an insight is a creative process, and out of the insight comes an idea. It’s a constant toggling between data and creativity.”

And Adobe’s Travis warned against defining data specialists in too restrictive a way.

“We want data people to be storytellers,” he said. “They’re part of the marketing team. We underestimate them if we say they’re left-brain only.”