Creatives Need Better Data

jeff-banderData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Ephraim (Jeff) Bander, president and chief revenue officer at Sticky.

In 2010, comScore debuted a landmark study that reported “creative quality drives more than half of the sales changes for brands analyzed, four times higher than the impact of the specific media plan involved.” Since then, trade conferences and industry pundits have consistently reiterated the importance of creative as a major driver of digital ad effectiveness.

Five years later, ad blocking has grown globally by more than 40% in the past 12 months, which may cost publishers as much as $22 billion this year. This paints a dismal picture of consumers’ affinity for digital ads, despite the fact that 71% of ad-blocking users remain open to whitelisting sites that don’t suck.

Many industry thought leaders call for better creative as a long-term resolution, and I agree. But as an industry, are we equipping those in charge of creative ideation and development – the creative directors and their teams – with the right data?

To date, marketers have used basic performance metrics, such as clicks, video completion rates and time on content, to figure out how to optimize creative assets. But since their inception, digital ads have drastically changed and evolved as media platforms proliferated and consumer behaviors shifted. Measurement, however, has not kept up to speed and needs a serious refresh.

To reinvigorate creativity and capitalize on business opportunities, brands need new digital measurement for creative, effective feedback loops within creative organizations and improved analytical skills on creative teams.

Measure Consumer Enjoyment

There are many exciting emerging technologies that provide deeper transparency into users’ state of mind as they consume media and digital ads. That’s because increasingly marketers find that a user’s emotional response to ads can accelerate or slow progress along the path to purchase. For example, a Millward Brown study on the Effie Awards, which recognize campaigns that generate proven business results, found that winners indexed highest on measures of positive emotions and enjoyment.

To date, the industry has used legacy metrics to signal a consumer’s affinity to a brand – the higher the click rate, the better the ad must resonate with its audience. Why not just go directly to the consumer and seek data on his or her enjoyment of specific ads?

Imagine if a creative director received post-campaign data on the enjoyment of a campaign. Access to this information could determine whether strategic planning and creative efforts moved a person to feel happiness or inspiration. In a political season, broadcast networks, such as CNN, display tickers across the bottom of the screen during a debate to demonstrate audience favorability to a candidate’s argument in real time. As technology in our industry becomes more sophisticated, brands should be able to get this type of insight with their audiences.

Reimagine The Creative Brief

The creative brief remains the cornerstone for brands to communicate goals and objectives to help spark ideas.

“The brief fills in a lot of the basic information, but it can hardly guarantee success,” wrote Phil Johnson, CEO of PJA Advertising and Marketing. “The problem is that even the best brief leaves a huge uncharted void between the single compelling insight and the final work.”

This void can be filled by incorporating goals based on new creative measurement, as proposed above. Therefore, instead of media planners just sending value-driven goals and objectives, the brief can be supplemented with succinct and ingestible creative-based insights rather than Excel spreadsheet attachments.

This would in turn enable a new kind of accountability for creativity. A media planner could one day include an enjoyment measurement index, which, if above 90, for example, could be used as a KPI for success.

The New Don Draper

As technology delivers deeper consumer insights, creative organizations will also need to build up their mental fortitude to process all incoming data. While the digital industry aspires to consistently harness Don Draper’s unrivaled storytelling, traditional Madison Avenue skills will fair unsustainably in today’s digital world of big data and automation.

The most successful creatives will be able to bridge data with creativity. Last year, Saatchi & Saatchi appointed Pablo Del Campo as its new worldwide creative director.

“Pablo’s appointment comes at a time when clients are walking the tightrope between big data and big emotion,” noted Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi’s worldwide CEO, at the time. “Our role as a creative organization is to turn the swimming pool of data insights into creative revelations that engage customers with ideas, with emotion. Pablo is an ideas leader through and through.”

Roberts’ comment clearly demonstrates the growing need for more data-driven creatives in our industry. It’s time to develop new metrics specifically focused on enabling them, not just media planners and brand marketers.

By combining new creative KPIs with streamlined organizational processes and enhanced data skill sets, the industry can begin to combat many issues that plague our industry today.

Follow Ephraim (Jeff) Bander (@Stickyadman), Sticky (@sticky_ad) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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