Friday, January 22, 2010

Selling Creativity As Data

It used to be that creative was king.

This was in the day of Mr. Bernbach and others. And, it still is, to some extent, with the better agencies of today. Goodby in San Francisco. Wieden in Portland. Droga in New York.

But today creative has also become something else. Creative has become data.

Connor Brady, chief creative officer at Organic, touches on it in a nice piece he wrote for Ad Age called “The Era Of Creative Empowerment.” In his article, Mr. Brady goes on to explain how agencies should use data to make them better at creative.

I don’t think Mr. Connor went quite far enough.

After all, today creative is data. Run a commercial on the digital platform and second by second data will tell you how well your commercial succeed in keeping the viewer’s attention.

If viewers have control over the commercial, i.e. the ability to opt-in and out when they want, then you will also know how well you have succeeded in actually engaging them.

And, if you’re in the camp of those that believe that viewer engagement is somewhat dependent on the creativity of the spot itself, then what this means is that your creativity can now be measured as data.

The more time viewers spend with the spot, the more creative you are. (Unfortunately, for most agencies out there, the opposite also holds true.)

Mr. Connor infers that data drives creative success and creative relevance. It doesn’t just drive it. It reports it.

And then, it goes even further. It honors it.

Advertisers don’t, for the most part, appreciate creativity. Agencies have tried to push their creative prowess for decades, but with little success. What advertisers do appreciate though, is data.

What this means is that instead of selling a commercial based on its creativity, agencies can sell it based on its data.


The proposition is fairly simple. Tie agency compensation into view duration.

If viewers start watching a commercial but opt-out quickly, well obviously the agency didn’t do its job. On the other hand, if viewers watch the whole damn thing, well, happy client. Happy agency.

For years, media has been sold based on data. Advertisers willing pay for data.

It’s creativity they have a problem with. Selling creativity as data changes that.

Hopefully, for the better.

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