The ad sector's creative apparatus has a good deal of work cut out before it wraps its head around data to the extent media and digital agencies have. But to hear some tell it, analytics - or "insights" as many prefer - has begun to permeate campaign ideation.
In Cannes last week, AdExchanger talked with dozens of folks from all corners of the ad ecosystem, and the conversation often turned to how measurement (not to say "performance") thinking can be married to creativity without cramping the "big idea." Read on for excerpts of those discussions.
Some performance-minded execs inside big creative agencies – yes, they exist - are working to extract business value from brand metrics, and then feed that back into the creative process. One such person is Marc Schwartz, who came up through digital agency SapientNitro to become global performance director at old-line agency McCann Erickson.
Here's how he describes his approach:
"Previously everything has been evaluated by channels, and optimized for channels, but the customer experience isn't within a channel. It's amongst and throughout the channels. We realized this years ago in the digital space; the interrelationship between display and search is really clear. [So too] the interrelationship between paid and social conversation.
It's trying to take it to a different level and say, what are the influencing KPI factors that actually drive the total brand experience. That's where we as a creative agency can drive differently and uniquely.
I don't want to do media mix thinking. I want to do brand performance architecture thinking. I want to do attribution at the broadest level of that definition. I don't really care about channel. I care about message, and content, and experiences. It takes multiple experiences to create conversion, not just multiple channels."
Schwartz is among a comparatively tiny group of execs at creative agencies tasked with demonstrating brand value across channels and messages. Of course the analytics tradition is better established within the creative departments at digital agencies. At Organic for instance, data frequently informs creative, and sometimes even learns from it.
Steve Kerho, Organic's SVP strategy, media and analytics, puts it this way:
"Between analytics and creative and strategy, there's this nice trifecta. We've had times when someone on the analytics team comes up with an idea for a campaign, and the creative team will run with it. And the creative team has come up with some great analytics measures, ideas for new models, and the analytics team runs with that.
Over time the creative team has finally learned that the analytics team is not there as some overlord, judging and taking the bad idea out of the mix. There are lots of times where, we come up with two campaigns and present them to the client, and the creative team feels very passionate about one of the ideas. The client decides to go with the safe one. Then my team will come back and say, "Let us take 15 percent of the impressions. We'll create this campaign on our own dime. Let's define what success looks like, and you just agree if we run this for a couple days, and this one's performing better, you'll let us go with that."
That symbiosis between the idea makers and the information reapers is easier with an iterative marketing project, such as a website or app, than it is with a cross-channel ad campaign propelled by a big idea. Indeed, many "traditional" creative leaders frankly reject the idea that measurement should factor heavily into what they do.