Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 31, 2010 7:26 AM

Creativity In The Age of Web Analytics

Is Mad Men a true representation of how great creative happens in Marketing?

In a typical Mad Men episode, research comes back saying something plain about the insights surrounding a brand. But the creatives, led by a cape-wearing Don Draper, rage against the machine and follow their gut instinct to create breakthrough creative that could have never happened had the team followed what research was telling them. It's the kind of Americana story that we all love to hear: those who won't follow what "The Man" is telling them, coupled with that burning desire to express themselves and put one's genius out into the world. It's a story as warm as apple pie and baseball (or maple syrup and hockey, depending on your chosen country). And - as with everything - there are always two (or more) sides to the story.

Creatives in marketing have to constantly grapple with what research and strategy is bringing to the table.

Most of the time, the research "lies" or isn't able to define any true insight that will ignite the creativity towards the red carpet at Cannes. Web analytics has come a long way, and actually being able to see what consumers are doing (and the ability to even know why they're doing it) gives us more insight than even the best creative brief can. Despite all that real data, marketing professionals en masse can't seem to wrap their heads around it. In fact, if you look at the majority of online campaigns - even the ones that are taking home the Cannes Lion Cyber award - they are not leveraging even the basest web analytics to optimize and adjust the campaigns based on what consumers are actually doing.

The left brain doesn't like the right brain. The right brain doesn't like the left brain.

Both sides of the brain (and the entire body that goes along with it) are being stubborn... and stupid. The truly amazing creative directors of the near future (will the next Alex Bogusky please stand up!) will be the ones who realize that you can't have one without the other. Prior to the maturation of these web analytics tools, it made sense to buck the trends from research and push creativity out of your subconscious on to Photoshop, but now there's no excuse not to change, adjust and optimize the creative process to use these metrics and analytics as a way to be many times more creative.

Think about this from a primal angle. If the analytics told you - in plain numbers - that when you use the color red instead of green you get a 20 per cent better conversion, what would you do?

Some traditional creative directors might see this as a limitation, but others might argue (myself included) that knowing this key piece of information -- and being able to overcome it -- is the true definition of creativity. Avinash Kaushik is the Analytics Evangelist for Google. He has a tremendously popular blog on the topic of Web Analytics, and he is the author of two best-selling books on the topic (Web Analytics - An Hour A Day and Web Analytics 2.0). Upon broaching the subject of dealing with creative teams when web analytics are in play, he pointed me to a post of his titled, Experiment or Die. Five Reasons And Awesome Testing Ideas.

As Avinash puts it:

"It is less risky to try big and bold things online than it is in the offline world of faith-based initiatives. So why not let your creativity soar? Why not let all of your ideas democratically flourish? Why have HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person's Opinions) second-guess and make decisions? Why not think of awesome insane crazy magnificent things? With web analytics and marketing optimization tools, anybody can construct a quick test. Why are marketers so afraid to let their customers tell them what works? Testing is awesome for all of us (both the qualitative and quantitative people).  I love showing creative people that one thing the analytics can help do amazingly is to help them focus on what's important and what to fix, rather than just going by what you think is wrong or where to focus on to get the biggest bang for the buck."

Thinking like this requires a fundamental shift in how we create our creative.

Instead of the creative brief leading to production, we are well into an era when, prior to final production, we can test multiple variants in-market, follow the analytics and optimize the campaign. From there, we can launch the campaign and still have the humility to know that it might change, adapt and even be redone based on how it performs.

Why don't the majority of advertising agencies do this? What are we so afraid of? Why do our egos hold us back?

In the end, would that episode of Mad Men have been as exciting if Draper and his team listened to research, followed the analytics and put out creative that just simply worked? The story may not be as exciting, but it does line those corporate pockets and provide bottom-line economic value to the corporation it serves. While it may not be a story worthy of it's own hit television series, it is a great story.

It is also a story that is well worth pursuing if we're looking at bringing marketing to the C-suite.

And that is what this is all about: marketing deserves to be an integral part of the corporate head table, and the sooner creatives embrace web analytics, the sooner everyone will be able to truly blend world-class creativity with mind-blowing results. These are the kind of campaigns that will get the real attention they deserve. These are the campaign of the future.

Now it's your turn: what do you think about the place of creativity in the age of web analytics?

The above posting is an article from Applied Arts Magazine. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Kevin Ing
    Mitch Joel

    The larger the organization, the harder it typically becomes to move quickly.

    Especially for things that benefit from quick response times (such as creative), what leaders really need to do is set the strategy, define the expected outcomes, and then let go.

    Once strategy and vision are set, allow people to act quickly and tactically in what they see as the best way possible to achieve the desired results.

    Unfortunately, many organizations are entrenched in ways that were set long before the Information Age really got started. And it seems that very few managers are willing to let go of the reigns now.

    Perhaps the newer generations of businesses will be better at this than the older?

    Reply
    • I don't know about the "letting go" part here. This isn't really about the research and strategy as much as it is about using the analytics and results to optimize. I think brands do the right things at the onset but lose their way when it comes to the analytics and optimization.

      Reply
  • Posted by claudio alegre
    Mitch Joel

    I think creativity should take front seat to web analytics or any other kind Mitch ... the thing is at the boutique level you can get away successfully with a one or two man team assuming your priorities are in order.

    At the agency level you have teams with ill defined goals and poor leadership most of the time, not to mention a mix of out of sequence priorities: ROI, Analytics before the creative process.

    I've never worked or owned a large outfit, but it must be very challenging to strike that balance. If you have a suit running the show, you'll never stand out, if you have a purist running the show, you'll go under ... We must get these guys to learn about each other, don't we?

    Later!

    Reply
    • But the analytics happen AFTER. We're able to be nimble, to change, to optimize and adapt. And, this has nothing to do with the size of the organization. It's is both a cultural and technological shift. I believe to be an important one.

      Reply
  • Posted by Will Burns
    Mitch Joel

    May I ratchet this conversation up to the brand level for a second? It's my belief that too much research can squash the soul of a brand. When a brand takes a chance (by being creative) the audience, whether they "like" the creative or not, will conclude, "That brand knows who it is, alright." Which, in my opinion, is much more respectful and magnetic than "That brand knows what we want it to be, alright." A brand is a story. A story requires polarity in order to be interesting. Polarity comes from taking chances, identifying an enemy and then slaying it. Research might help you find the enemy to slay, but it will not tell you how to slay it. Never has, never will. Talented human beings will do that just fine.

    Reply
    • 100% when it comes to research, but what about the live analytics? So, you have the "story" but now you're seeing that the story does not resonate. Why stick to it? Why not test and prod? Why not try to optimize it and keep at it? I think we need to move away from a model of, "we tried, and this was the result," to a model of "we put this in market and here's what we did (and how long it took) to get it to the point where it got the traction we were after."

      We can now do this. I think we should be.

      Reply
      • Posted by @JeffreyGroks
        Mitch Joel

        Great response Mitch. This is the type of thinking that just drives me nuts. "Branding" isn't permission to be irrelevant or to ignore negative feedback. I want to embrace those wonderful right brain thinkers with all my heart but my head stops me dead in my tracks whenever I see this kind of thinking. Brands need to connect emotionally, when we see evidence that it's not working only ego keeps us from accepting feedback. Of course, the other regular culprits (poor prioritization, status quo and corporate apathy) play a part as well.

        Reply
      • Posted by Michael Freeman
        Mitch Joel

        While I generally agree with you, I think there is a danger that many will become too short term focused and lose patience for things that we may otherwise really believe in pursuing. This danger already exists today, but it can be magnified by the rapid assessment made by analytics software. I think of TV shows as an example, where if you just went by the initial numbers for a show like Seinfeld you may have just decided to trash the whole show or go in a radically different direction, rather than just be patient enough for the existing vision for the project realize itself.

        The point is that while analytics are now available and should be applied to our evaluation and decision making process ( I am a big believer of this) caution should be applied when giving context to these numbers and providing an understanding of the many variables at play for any given campaign.

        Reply
  • Posted by Cyrus Alcala
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks for this informative post, Sir Mitch.

    Creativity is one of the best tools any person can give. Having a talent or an action to do, But unusual acts presents unusual effects, sometimes it is more scary than exciting.

    Sir Avinash's comment is thought provoking but a little bit lax because aside from us having the temptation of personal power and financial gain, we always take a higher road-welfare.

    We've always had problems but it is different than a shock.

    Risk-Return trade off-Advertising agencies have different little battles, from front and back and they do cite talks that while creativity can reap a pot of gold, it is also risky because most of the decision makers there are also investors too who think that they won't take additional risk if the return is uncertain. So they are left with a choice of "traditions" or "standards" to minimize fear and paralysis. So much is at stake.

    Time- Problems keeps adding if a particular step don't give immediate results. They often ask like inside in a time-machine the question of: "How long does it take will we be able to arrive at a certain point?" or in a Zombie survival: "How long will our weapons last?"

    Opportunity- "We are not couch potatoes, we sometimes are because it is the only opportunity given to us." said by Clay Shirky in his speech.
    ________
    I think Web analytics greatly assists as being a large yard-stick and it helped much and saved many jobs as well.

    I would like to think that,
    if a company thinks they are the "Great Food Co." but the market tells it is the "Expensive Stupid Food Co." in a long time, probably no analytics or a blessing can save them instantly.

    Idea is to not change the marketing for the market, but to actually change what the company are.


    Most of us, are not Microsoft who can just drop $500M for experiments.

    So, we are careful and we follow the basics first though sometimes we want things wild in mild strokes of our paintbrush.

    Reply
    • We need to be careful that we don't allow ourselves to fall in love with a creative in as much as we need to be careful that we don't allow ourselves to drown in the data.

      Currently, we're in nowhere land (a little bit). We have the tools that will tell us - in near-real-time - what people think of our creative. I believe the truly creative shops of the future are the ones who can use this information to optimize and, in doing so, elevate themselves to a whole other level of creativity.

      Reply
  • Posted by Josh Braaten
    Mitch Joel

    Shouldn't web analytics lead to the best Creative? I'm very left-brained, so maybe this is just my data side showing through. Great web analytics is just as much about insights as it is KPIs and metrics. It's often these insights that produce the big "Creative" ideas.

    Great analysis produces problems that customers are having. Needs that aren't being filled. Sure, Don Draper appears to find these insights independent of the data, but I don't think Don is very typical at all. Using web analytics as way to guarantee these insights can be a part of the process is only prudent, right?

    I think it's common in this environment for the farmer and the cowman to have differences about what is more important. But in the end, I believe that web analytics leads to better Creative

    Reply
    • I don't think that Avinash or I would disagree with that assessment.

      Reply
    • Posted by Diane Horton
      Mitch Joel

      Re: "But in the end, I believe that web analytics leads to better Creative"...I'm not sure that I agree. I think that some creative works and some doesn't. What web analytics provides is the quickest path to figure this out. What it doesn't do is create great ideas.

      Reply
      • If the analytics optimizes the creative and gets it to reach a broader audience (and if that is the intent), I do believe that analytics breeds better creativity.

        Reply
        • Posted by Josh Braaten
          Mitch Joel

          I think you make a good point, Mitch, but also think that Diane is onto something. Great analytics can't make you evoke an emotional response with your marketing. Great analytics lead to great insights, but in the end, it will be the Creative folks that are able to jerk the tears, bring the smiles or what-have-you. There. We're all important. Does everyone feel better now?

          Reply
            • Posted by @JeffreyGroks
              Mitch Joel

              Great analytics report the behavior of people. Nothing tells you more about how people feel than what they actually do. Creative people are the ones responsible for nurturing positive feelings. So analytics or revenues are the only way to know if it's working. Arousing sentiment, without corresponding behavior changes, is art. Branding is not art; it draws from art to influence behavior. Marketers who create art that doesn't make money belong in museums. What kind of museum...I'll stop here.

              Reply
  • Posted by Kelly Rusk
    Mitch Joel

    I'm sure you know the famous saying:

    "I know half of my advertising dollars are wasted... I just don't know which half."

    And the way I see it, web analytics can help solve that problem. I definitely agree with Avinash that online measurement actually allows for bigger risks to be taken.

    Since creative for online media is both cheaper and more flexible to produce it can act as a testing ground for print/TV/etc. Perhaps audiences are different, but I think today there's enough people online to get a decent representative sample...

    The one problem often lacking online is leadership and expertise--since it's so easy and cheap EVERYONE can do it right? In theory maybe, but even with all the metrics and data intelligence in the world, you still need someone like Don Draper to lead with vision and passion and I'd definitely say that's often overlooked. Pair the two together and you've got a winning combo...

    Reply
    • It reminds of the many traditional mass media TV advertising agencies I know who are now creating 3-4 different spots and testing them by seeing what happens when they post them on YouTube (long before a launch or mass media buy). Being able to see what gets tractions has never been easier... and it's free.

      Reply
  • Posted by Web Analytics
    Mitch Joel

    Although I like Don Draper and the whole Mad Men stories very much, I agree. Don Draper (looking at him with a Web Analytics mind) is a fool. But that is also the story around him. He just is brilliant with ad hoc ideas. (Yes, that´s Hollywood...).

    Don Draper does not like Web Analytics. But aren´t we smarter than this guy, having much more insights?

    Web Analytics Europa

    Reply
  • Posted by Rich Nadworny
    Mitch Joel

    You just love tapping those sore teeth, don't you?

    The problem with research, as others have mentioned, is that it's not always believable, especially when marketers use focus groups. The problem with creatives is that they often lack the insight for and empathy with people viewing and using the work.

    If you push Avinash's idea out, it would mean letting go of the "big idea" and creating lots of smaller, testable ideas. That demands a very different type of creative, one that works hand in hand with the analysts.

    I think that way is actually more exciting. Limitations are not always a bad thing. When someone asked Baryshnikov who was the greatest dancer of the 20th century, he replied "Fred Astaire." When he was asked why not Nuryev or Nijinski, he answered that Astaire was able to create his art working under incredible limitations that the great ballet stars never had to deal with. And that was what made him so great.

    Reply
  • Posted by Sorin Stefan
    Mitch Joel

    I'm actually pretty surprised about Avinash's opinion on this taking the fact that his employer couldn't decide on 41 shades of blue and put Doug Bowman (Creative Director@Twitter former Art Director@Google) to backup these with data.

    @stop
    http://stopdesign.com/archive/2009/03/20/goodbye-google.html

    Reply
    • I guess there is data, then there is too much data and then there is drowning in the data until you are stuck with analysis/paralysis?

      Reply
      • Posted by Sorin Stefan
        Mitch Joel

        It might of course ... unless you're a ninja and see the big picture ;)

        All of them know WHAT they're doing, very few know HOW they're doing it .... and almost none know WHY are they doing it ... Doug knew why, Google didn't ... therefore he left.

        Reply
      • Posted by @JeffreyGroks
        Mitch Joel

        Some balance here - creativity sometimes calls for things analysts have never measured- revolutionary ideas. I want to encourage creativity and then measurement but many organizations who live on the left side of the brain encourage only evolutionary ideas. Trying something completely new should be encouraged as long as it's also measured and learned from. Creativity shouldn't be an excuse to ignore accountability and measurement shouldn't be an excuse to stifle creativity.

        Reply
        • Avinash, your brother (Bryan) and you often talk about branding in terms of the overall economic value it brings to the organization. There seems to be a germ of an idea brewing here that creativity and breakthrough idea can't be tethered to the overall economic value and I don't subscribe to that. Like you said, that type of creativity belongs in a museum.

          Reply
  • Posted by Matthew Riva
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,
    Great article! Ok let's get down to business. The one thing that hasn't changed between the MADMEN era is that true creative is using a weaponized version of Freud to sell products; Aspiration, association and personal identity are defined through the purchase of a "product." This means the product needs to have a "personality" in order to be desirable. I have to believe that if the caped Don Draper and his staff had the listening tools that were based on the touch points and metrics available today that they would have used them as you have so eloquently suggested. The rules of the game have changed though. People are not just looking to build a desired identity through the purchase of products, they can build that personality in the online gaming arena, it is the alure of twitter and much of the social networking world, but there is another need that the MADMEN may never have foreseen was the need for human connectivity. Society has so broken down and isolated whole populations that people are looking for connectedness online to fill the void. What is needed along with our ears to the ground/metrics, those great listening tools of today is what I call "campfire theory." It is not enough to listen to what people want to buy. We also have to know what they need, what they are missing in their lives. This is something Draper actually mentioned in the episode where they use a psychologist to help with a campaign. The psychologist's advice was overlooked on the surface be use unlike today she could not provide any real insight aside from group stories and reactions, but Draper really ignored the findings because he said "people don't know what they need." I think what he meant by that was they don't know what they are missing. At any rate what I believe is the future of marketing is a unified approach where strong analytics are fused with creative and an understanding of that which is missing from our lives. Campfire Theory addresses that. It is the safe primordial environment where people come together unified by a social object. Hugh McLeod has long pioneered the concept of the social object. What is missing from his theory is the safe-ness of the circle. If we can combine all these elements and use these constraints to deepen and enrich the creative process then the future of marketing will be bright.

    Reply
    • ...and with that we can't completely dismiss the reality that mass media and big branding exercises are still important and valid. The analytics tell us "what happened" and some deep post-campaign research might be able to tell us "why" something happened. The hard work of being creative is highly relevant as is getting that message to spread far and wide.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Great conversation about a big question in marketing.

    In the days of Mad Men, the research was faulty. Ask people in a group if they floss everyday and what do you think the overlap of that number will be with reality? Actual behavior is the true measure of how well creative works but let's not get too haughty because even with all our online analytics, we still don't have numbers to tell us if someone who interacted with you on Facebook 10 times and comments on your blog every time you post, has become so devoted to your brand that she chooses it at a retail store (that you don't own) some percent more than she chooses the competitive brand.

    The analytics that we have should inform creative but the fact is that most of the time you are talking about tweaks. Great campaigns are not made by tweaking. Great creative is an intuitive leap into something new that hits a nerve and when it does, it is magical.

    The Old Spice campaign was informed by analytics: there was research that indicated the problem with sales was that the product wasn't perceived as manly enough. The creative was brilliant, and by recent accounts, highly successful. Had the creative executed a more pedestrian campaign based on the analytics, we wouldn't be talking about it and all the tweaking in the world would not achieve what the intuitive leap accomplished.

    Yes, analytics and creative should work hand in hand but the greatest impact comes from great creative.

    Reply
    • Posted by Diane Horton
      Mitch Joel

      Well said! I completely agree.

      Reply
    • Awesome comment. I'd also add that you can bet the Old Spice folks were watching the web analytics super-close and using that information/date to keep the spreading of their story in play.

      Reply
      • Posted by DoreenatDMS
        Mitch Joel

        Yes ..not meaning to get too off topic, although they clearly had a plan, awesome creative and flawless execution, the independence/authority Wieden + Kennedy had in delivering the Old Spice vids in real time can't be overstated; it's been said before, but P&G were practically Herculean in 'letting go' of what could have been a complicated approval process. All were in it to win it.

        Reply
  • Posted by Chris
    Mitch Joel

    Think about the power of the "who". It seems that when you identify the influential, long tail, and everyone in-between groups you are then able to coordinate and target your campaigns in ways we haven't been able to until now. This allows you to take less risk, identify momentum early, and then follow up if the analysis supports it. It seems that in this model you allow your creativity to have meaningful constraints and targeted in a way that might cost less and be better received. What's downside have you seen?

    Reply
    • It's not so much a down side as it is "one strategy amongst many." A lot of major brands (with major budgets) believe in building that core audience, but some of them also want to just "get the word out there."

      Reply
  • Posted by Gunther Sonnenfeld
    Gunther Sonnenfeld

    Love this post, Mitch.

    As a former "creative" by designation, I started building analytics platforms so that my ideas - and more specifically those I collaborated on - would have more impact.

    In my mind, the goal of great creative is to both entertain and inform - this is why things like web utilities have become to vitally important. Ultimately, I don't think this is really about what element has the most impact (creative vs. analytics), but rather, under the lens of great user experiences, what union of data insight and instinctive grace produces the most optimal creative results.


    Best,

    Gunther

    Reply
  • Posted by KatFrench
    Mitch Joel

    Ah, Mitch...

    We had a near-perfect example of this with one of our clients. I can't post details, but I will say that one giant "A-HA!" moment I had was that analytics is the fastest way to know when consumers are calling BS on your creative.

    Flipped a slightly different way--we're used to looking at this from the perspective of "research tells us what the customer wants, so we tweak the creative to tell them what they want to hear."

    What we experienced was, the creative was overselling something that didn't ring true to consumers, and they were voting with their clicks to tell us that.

    Without analytics monitoring, by the time we realized the campaign wasn't working, it would have been over. As it stood, we were able to correct the message to something compelling AND believable.

    Creative should always take those big swings at the fences, but watching the analytics is like getting an extra at-bat.

    Reply
  • Posted by Matthew Riva
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch+ KatFrench,
    Ok I totally agree, but with one exception. The metrics available today are quasi real time and with many touch points which produce a very reliable filter and could be used as an extra at bat. We do have the safety net to swing for the fences. However, metrics only tell the story of what we know we want, people don't always know what they want. At some point logic and data and algorithms fail to see below the surface no matter how in depth that data goes, it will never show us what we don't know we want. Do you remember the "carousel" episode where Don saw what he was missing in his life, his connection to his family, and projected it on to a product. He changed a technical sounding name of a new product to something we all could associate with a child's experience of the carousel. He not only invoked the child memory, the notion a parent not wanting to forget the memory of seeing their child on the carousel, but also the cycle
    Of life. This was the rue story of how that name came to be, albeit hollywoodized to fit the plot. There is no way metrics could have accomplished that. Or that it could have forseen it's success. It was a seriously ballsy campaign. It is interesting to not the infamous VW Beetle ad they bring up every season of MADMEN is equally impossible froma metrics informed POV. That ad was so against the grain how would any day if it was available accomplish that feat? I guess the Old Spice campaign does fit your model and I agree metrics should be integrated into every campaign, but sometimes metrics cannot accomplish a leap of a certain kind.

    Reply
    • Analytics during and as the campaign are going are completely different from how you are describing them. Once the Carousel in in market and we can tell (via the analytics) that it's not working, then what?

      You're right, Apple didn't know if people would want/need an iPhone, but the minute the creative was in market, they could tell what was working (and what wasn't) because of those analytics.

      Reply
  • Posted by Matthew Riva
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I meant analytics can inform ideation but yes afterwards they become more useful as a test group etc. However it's only an educated guess.

    Reply
  • Posted by Simon T Small
    Mitch Joel

    I find there are two types of creatives - those that LOVE data and testing and those who completely ignore it through disbelief.

    It's a tricky time we're moving into, the first computer based advert creator has emerged out of Europe.
    http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/dont-tell-the-creative-department-but-software-can-produce-ads-too/

    I'm a digital strategist and work with some amazing creatives, however, too often the ads & ideas that best deliver on the outcome for the client are in fact the least creative and interesting. (Sad face)

    Reply
    • You'll find many, many instances of truth in what you are saying (but creatives do not like to hear this). Sometimes even basic aesthetic rules don't even work. Follow the work of Avinash Kaushik, Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg, Jared Spool and others.

      You're on to something very factual.

      Reply
      • Posted by @JeffreyGroks
        Mitch Joel

        The problem is that machines CAN create serviceable mediocre creative and then optimize quickly, giving the people who want to ignore creativity some ammunition. However a machine can NEVER create outstanding creative. What is challenging is that too often creative people dig in their heels, refuse to optimize based on data and perform miserably. I love art but art and ego have no place in business. In business results (actions you can measure) matter but opinions don't matter. Lets focus on facts, show the results and we'll follow your gut feel all the way to the bank.

        Reply
        • Some might argue that understanding the analytics and the marketing optimization is an art unto itself ;)

          Reply
          • Posted by @JeffreyGroks
            Mitch Joel

            Painting by numbers is not art ;-) Data can inspire creativity but interpreting data is 1% imagination and 99% perspiration. It's much easier when instead of interpreting data you name a measurable goal for the creative. If it's not achieved then you can question the creative or the assumptions.

            Reply
  • Posted by Cheryl Burgess
    Mitch Joel

    Definitions of Marketing vary but one that is commonly accepted, is as follows:


    Marketing is the SCIENCE of understanding your customer, your competition, and your company. It is the ART of combining this understanding with vision and persuasion to create opportunities and solutions that satisfy the emotional needs of your customer and the revenue needs of your company. The need for balance (art and science) in the above definition tells me that great creative ideas are as important as research-driven analytics. They are inextricably linked. Consumer research on the front end feeds the creative process and analytics on the back end add another meaningful dimension for marketers. Most creative directors will tell you that the best creative ideas generally stem from a well written creative strategy that is full of consumer insights. In fact, David Ogilvy once said, “give me the freedom of a tight creative strategy and I’ll deliver real results.”

    My company's blog focuses on the creative process.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jason Keller
    Mitch Joel

    The flaw in this argument is that fact that analysts want creativity to be "fixed" after it is proven not to work. I think there are a couple of problems with that presentation.

    1) Creativity in its most ideal sense should be organic and new. This means that it should not fit into the mold as far as analytical data can tell. Because if that is the case, creatives will stifle themselves by trying to always hit an analytical mark; they will essentially stagnate their own creativity by trying to replicate past successes over a period of time.

    2) Analytical reporting could be flawed over a specific amount of time. This means that if immediate results are not met, brilliant creative pieces could be overlooked and undervalued, leaving bland and neutral content in its wake.

    Reply
    • Pretend scenario: you test two creatives. One has a green check-out box and one has a round, yellow one. The analytics scream to go with green. Do you change it or do you say to yourself, "we don't want to stifle someone's creativity here?"

      I don't think analytics stifles anything. I think it shows us the truth. More often than not, the truth is that creativity is an opinion and analytics shows us the facts. More often than not, people don't like to know/see the facts.

      Reply
  • Posted by Mark Burgess
    Mitch Joel

    Having spent many years working directly with creative directors at large ad agencies I can attest to the importance of the creative process. Research (traditional and social media monitoring) provide fuel to the creative process. In fact, creativity and analytics work together. As the iPhone story goes, Apple's efforts to listen intently to chatter in social media channels led to the realization that consumers wanted a "smarter smart phone" -- not just another pretty phone. This gave Apple a jump on all other cell phone manufacturers. Basically, "listening" led to the innovative iPhone. Indeed, "creativity" is about more than analytics.

    Mark Burgess

    Reply
    • To push that idea further, Apple is also able to tell what people are saying and doing. Look at the issue with the antenna: from a design/creativity perspective, it was flawless but it was flawed in the marketplace and the analytics are letting them know this. So, do you stay with the flawed creative or fix it because the analytics are screaming at you?

      Reply
      • Posted by Mark Burgess
        Mitch Joel

        I would say that good marketing is ALL about the customer. So, fix the problem and communicate. In the Apple iPhone4 example, Steve Jobs' initial recommendation to users was to hold the phone differently to avoid the issue. Since Apple knew the flaw existed before launch, seems like they chose to ignore it.

        Mark Burgess

        Reply
  • Posted by Nan Ross
    Mitch Joel

    I have been artistic since childhood. I was very quiet but observance of people behaviors. But some time ago, I had a epiphany that I was neglecting to use my childhood talents for my business. I think I was focusing more on the creativity of media to draw my audience to my website but failed to focus on how it works. Now, I'm more adamant about reviewing and analyzing my web reports. This system allows my left and right brain work together.

    Reply
    • It also allows you to know what is resonating with your audience so you can amp that up. It also allows you to know what is not resonating with your audience so you can spend more time being creative on what works. Sounds like a win-win.

      Reply
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