How creatives can learn to stop worrying and love data

Written by Betsy Adelstein, SVP of sales, Flashtalking

Despite the industry’s move to data-driven marketing, the D word still rankles in some circles. Yet the enlightened know that, if done well, programmatic creative can showcase advertising at its cleverest. More than that, it’s crucial to future-proofing your playbook.

“Real” creatives tend to cringe at the idea of using data in their ad campaigns. But this aversion might have more to do with a need for a new definition for data and a new understanding of its role in their creative process than with zealous artistic purity. Data as counterpoint can guide creative toward what people want, illuminating the path to addressing those needs.

The recipe for good creative?
Breakthrough creative requires two components—originality and elaboration. Originality can be simply defined as uniqueness. Elaboration is more complex: It refers to both explaining details and making unexpected connections between ideas.

“Good” creative, creative that elaborates successfully, answers consumer needs, both known and unknown, to help them live and enhance their day-to-day lives. Data can answer critical people-centric questions that consumers are asking themselves every day:

What is everyone else getting their mom for Christmas?
What’s the best place to spend a holiday vacation?
How might I use my year-end bonus toward a down payment on a house?

Using this “originality and elaboration” criteria for good creative, let’s look at a few ideas that use data to make advertising more people-centered and help it truly reach customers.

Travel advertising and the influencer effect
Travel enthusiasts have been buzzing about the newly-opened Cuban borders. As airlines and hotels flock to gain access to this tropical destination, their ads should take advantage of the urgency. An airline brand can promote that, “Visiting Cuba is like traveling to the past” and that, “You should get there before the future arrives.”

Using data as the payoff to the headline, why not highlight how many people are already buying tickets? The originality of the message is paid off with the elaboration of how many people are already buying tickets. This tactic, which is sure to encourage travelers to dig out their passports and buy tickets, transcends industries

“But I already bought this…”
In the retail world, one of the most recognized tactics in digital is the ability to retarget prospective customers and showcase products they were browsing on your site. Product retargeting is incredibly effective, but it has a universally recognized problem: redundancy.

Despite the fact that 90 percent of purchases are influenced by the web, 80 percent happen in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s all but impossible to tell if a customer already made a purchase in another channel.

This problem has an easy solution: Simply provide each and every viewer the opportunity to tell you if they already bought the item, or if they’ve lost interest.

Making live events more predictable
Live events can feel unpredictable, but when you break them down, you get the same elements in a variety of combinations. Award shows have a few basic occurrences: winners, speeches, fashion and bad jokes.

CPG brands can capitalize on each moment. For example a toothpaste advertiser can congratulate every winner of an award show, as they accept their trophies and show off their pearly white smiles.

Even weather events can power effective creative when data is involved. A paint brand can follow weather patterns to showcase durability of outdoor paint through all weather conditions. Imagine the cross-screen potential.

Data as the creative key, not the lock
Personally, I blame the digital advertising industry for frightening creatives. By failing to show them early enough how many amazing things data and technology could do to make advertising more creative, we made that data feel more like a constraint than an enhancement.

But it’s time to change our tune, and green creatives just learning the digital ropes today can skip the phobia all together and spend that energy dreaming up ideas that take advantage of technology to capture attention.

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