Think back to Steve Jobs and his now famous “Think Different,” or Dan Wieden and Nike’s “Just Do It.”
You remember those, right?
We recall these iconic ad campaigns because they are both simple and evocative. They draw us emotionally into the message. They rose above the noise, became part of the culture and inspire us still.
Yet in today’s fragmented media environment, it becomes difficult to be heard, let alone get an audience to well-up with emotion in front of your ad.
For every visionary “Think Different”, there are literally millions of ads out there, barely breaking through, unconvincingly vying for attention.
So what should the smart Creative Director do? How do you rise above the fray and get your brand noticed?
We believe a great way is to follow the data. Out in the wild, your ads are awash in data about how consumers feel and relate to them. Creative Directors should dig into this information. They should understand it and they should use it. They should become Data-Driven.
Here are 3 traits that we’ve seen as the hallmarks of a Data-Driven Creative Director.
Being brave enough to quantify
One of the biggest debates in advertising has always been “Can creative be measured?”
Media planning and buying is all about measurement. Theirs is the left-brained world of media plans and budgets and KPIs (oh my!). The media buyer holds the keys to the data kingdom.
Traditionally, creative teams have stayed as far away from the measurement side as possible. Creativity, they say, is the right-brained domain of the ineffable, the je ne sais quoi and the non-quantifiable. It cannot be measured and, besides, no one ever won a Cannes Lion for high CTR!
In many ways, they are both right. But we have seen that CDs who are brave enough to take a hard look at the data, even when it reflects negatively on a particular creative concept, are far more likely to stumble upon a better understanding of what will work next time.
Dan Weiden’s inspiration for “Just do it” were the words of serial killer Gary Gilmore, who, in his final moments, quipped to the firing squad, “Let’s do it!”. Creative inspiration can come from strange places. Is it so crazy to believe that campaign performance data might not provide just such inspiration?
Has a finger on the pulse
One of the biggest challenges for Creative Directors and their teams is that, even if they want to see campaign data from the media side, it’s often only delivered in cherry-picked reports after the campaign has ended, far too late for it to inform any current work.
Creative Directors should insist on accessing real-time campaign data associated with each creative running in the market.
The information exists; it is connected to any number of dashboards. Creative teams deserve to see it.
Going one step further, those teams should also plan to review the data on a regular basis to understand how things are behaving in real time.
This doesn’t need to be complicated either. All you need is a comprehensive dashboard with two or three core indicators that allow creative teams to judge the performance of creative executions in different channels free of bias.
By doing this, insights will drive—not hinder—creativity.
Makes BIG leaps but always looks first
Data-driven Creative Directors know that getting to that Eureka! moment is never really a bolt from the blue. The road to a moment of inspiration requires a thousand tiny steps.
It’s about having humility and patience to know that we almost never get things right the first time. So, it’s important for Data-Driven Content Directors to test multiple ideas and then decide which works best. Only then can they double, triple, or even quintuple down on the ideas that actually work and produce good results.
This is the stuff that outsized returns on ad spend are made of. It may not seem very productive on the surface, but finding what doesn’t work 999 times so that on the 1000th time you can get a “stroke of genius” usually gives you the best result.
It’s the incremental improvements that add up to a tidal wave.
Savvy Creative Directors are able to wear the hat of both the visionary and the scientist.
Using campaign performance data as a tool to improve the effectiveness and appeal of their ad campaigns, they’re able to drive value for their brands.
But doing this without the right tools can be tough.
Without close communication and collaboration with the people managing the media side of a campaign, it can be difficult to quickly adapt or iterate on a creative concept.
A Creative Director who is forced to wait on reporting from a media team is never going to be able to create the kind of agile reaction to data in a way that drives creative performance.
Here at Viewst, we empower creative and media teams to work closely together, communicate clearly, validate ideas, and manage versions across huge ad sets.
If you’re a Creative Director or Media Director looking for ways to improve your creative results, make sure to schedule a demo with Viewst to see what a data-driven approach to creative can really look like!
Advisor at Viewst | Founder at ALt+Esc | Advisor at Kargo
Grant has spent much of the past two decades building new businesses in advertising and digital media. Today his primary focus and expertise is on the interplay between creative automation, AI, privacy and digital media performance for advertisers.