Friday, March 01, 2013

Is Data Great Creative’s Savior or Executioner?


There are those who claim that data can never make creative better.

They say great creative concepts are a matter of instinct, not science.  Not data.

My reaction to that kind of thinking is that it’s time to look at reality as it is.  And, the reality is that data is here to stay. 

If data is inevitable, then shouldn't the question be how do we make the inevitable, invaluable to the creative process (rather than how do we do our best to undermine data)?

One way to do this is by using data to give the creative folks more control over the creative process.  Allow them to be accountable for whether or not a creative execution works.  And, to make this accountability actually mean something, I suggest making the creative folks financially accountable.

How do we do this?  By making sure that what is measured by data, is something that the creative folks actually have control over.

People, even creative people, don’t mind being held accountable for something if they have control over what they are being held accountable for.

This is why sales aren't a good data point for accountability.  There are too many variables that impact sales, outside of the creative itself, to hold any one person or group accountable.

So what would a creative person be willing to be held accountable for?  

How about viewer interest in the commercial measured as time spent with the commercial?  Aren’t the creative people the ones responsible for creating “interesting” commercials?  

Or, to put it another way, aren't the creative folks the ones responsible for creating time spent?

Yes, but…

the client always tells us to change things and mucks things up, will be a creative person’s response.

All right.  How about if you agree to be financially responsible for creating time spent with the commercial and, in return, the client will let you do the spot the way you want?

In other words, once you sell the spot to the client, they back off.  They leave all the creative decisions to you.

Now, as a creative person, are you willing to take that responsibility on?  Are you willing to be paid based on how long the viewer watches your commercial for?  Which means if they watch all thirty seconds, you'll make a lot more money than if they only watch 10 seconds out of thirty.

If so, would this change the way you create commercials?

Wouldn't this lead to more interesting, more watchable creative?

And, if so, then isn’t this a way of using data – time spent data – to make creative better rather than stifling it?

Data is here to stay.  The toothpaste isn't going back into the tube.

Which means, we need to be just as creative in how we use the data, as we are in how we allow the data to potentially misuse the creative.

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