Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Mad Men Plus Math Men

The advertising business is becoming a business of numbers.  And creative people should be among those who are the happiest to see this.

Why so?

Data has historically been the enemy of creative.   The reason is that data reinforced the rational element of an idea while ignoring the emotional component.  So creative that could possibly soar was usually tethered down with more and more facts.

That was then.

Today, what data can tell us about creativity has changed.  And the mad men of today have the opportunity to use that data to support their creativity.

Of course, there is a cost to do this.  And that cost may be their salary.

Let me explain. 

The lament at most great creative shops is always “Why can’t we be paid based on how good we are”?  In other words, why can’t their creativity be recognized financially, rather than just at reward shows?

Data now allows this to happen.

For example, what is the primary objective of a TV commercial?  It’s not sales, mind you.  Sales are the ultimate objective.  But before a sale can take place, what has to happen?

Someone needs to be persuaded.   And to be persuaded, what needs to happen?  The commercial needs to be watched.  Not just two seconds or five seconds.  But the bulk of the commercial.

After all, thirty seconds were done for a reason.  If the persuasive argument could have been expressed in five seconds, then a five-second spot should have been done.

Data can now tell us how long a commercial has been viewed for.

So if the first objective is to get a targeted viewer to watch more rather than less of the commercial, and data can tell us how well the creative achieved this objective, then the question for creatives is this.

Are you willing to be paid based on how well you involved the viewer in the commercial?

The longer you involve them, the more you/your agency makes.  The less time a viewer is involved in your commercial, the less you/your agency makes.

Are you, as a creative person, willing to be held financially accountable for “how good” you are as a creative person?

Because that’s what data now allows us to measure.  In other words, data now allows advertisers to measure how well the creative delivered an ROI against the costs to create the commercial.

An average :30 spot costs $360K to produce.  That’s $12,000 a second.

Which means, in theory, the thirtieth second cost as much to produce as the first second.

Each second not consumed by a viewer is $12,000 lost.

If more of a commercial is consumed by viewers, then the better the ROI on production dollars spent for that commercial.

And isn’t that what creative people are initially accountable for?

A return on production dollars invested.

The higher the return on involvement in the commercial, the higher the return on investment in the commercial.

It's in this way that data starts to tell us how creative a commercial is.

And, it allows advertisers to compensate their agencies accordingly.

Based on their creativity.

Isn’t that what agencies always wanted?

Mad Men, meet Math Men.

It’s time to go have a drink together.

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