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Big Data has to be fighting for the industry buzzword of 2014. But with more and more marketers working to generate, harvest and manage their 'big data' for the benefit of their media campaigns, the creative messaging often gets lost. Some marketers are pushing back on the trend of it all being about the ones and zeroes and getting creative once again. But which one will ultimately have the most impact?
Question: Data, data, data - it seems to be all that Marketers care about currently. Can data live up to its hype?
There isn't much doubt that data will live up to its hype since it has already redefined much of the industry, but the question lies more in asking if marketing will reach a point where it has maxed out or relied on data too much. The future will undoubtably see a shift (perhaps less astronomical) back toward the creative after the industry realizes that big data is not the end all to marketing. The true sweet spot of marketing lies in a combination of data and creative. Big data has certainly revolutionized the industry but human components must never be left out. Intuition, creativity and emotion will always play a part in marketing and can never be replaced by algorithms.
Despite our industry’s unbridled excitement about “big data”, this new shiny object may not solve the age old problems we face in advertising -- in fact, it may just distract us from them. The promise of big data is that it allows the marketer to build a relationship with their prospective consumers and customers based on information known about individual behaviors, preferences, shopping behaviors and a multitude of other factors. The challenge to the advertiser is to make this multitude of data actionable and to create advertising campaigns that utilize this information to become more effective -- to improve the advertising message and the time and place the advertising is delivered, all based on what will be most compelling to the individual target. For all the enthusiasm advertisers have for big data and data strategies, they must invest that same attention to developing a spectrum of compelling advertising messages (creative) in order for the data live up to its promise.
Question: Optimizing campaigns based on the data points is commonplace, will creative catch up to the same standards?
While it may be a longer process and longer learning experience, creative will one day catch up to become similarly commonplace. While optimizing most digital marketing campaigns based on data insights requires a less time-consuming feedback and iteration loop, it's not the case quite yet for practices on the creative side. Because it is a more tedious process it is an underutilized strategy today, doesn't mean it will always be the case. As marketers familiarize themselves with the process it can serve just as great of purposes and require less effort. It will always require a certain amount of marketing intuition and creativity since data can't be relied on to completely take over the creative side of marketing. That said, using data to influence creative campaigns will become more commonplace as practices become more widely tested and understood.
Creative testing and optimization is an underutilized strategy in most campaigns today. Marketers will spend millions on a campaign and provide an agency or technology partner 1 or 2 display banners and one or two landing pages for the whole campaign. This is madness! Creative optimization requires little investment but can yield significant returns. When paid media campaigns are planned, significant effort should be made to establish a creative strategy of testing and optimization. This is true both for paid search campaigns, as well as display media campaigns. With creative test plans in place and rigorous performance analysis and creative learnings applied, advertisers will see campaign results improve and will insist on creative performance optimization as a standard.
Question: What examples can you share of data and media working together for the benefit of the marketer and the consumer?
In theory, digital advertising in the form of retargeted ads and other similar practices are for the benefit of both marketers and consumers. Marketers get a direct channel to consumer impressions based on their behavioral data, while consumers get easier access to products or services that they want or were previously interested in. This is a great example of the headway that big data and marketing have made working together. Although some consumers feel overwhelmed and inundated with perpetual ads that never leave them alone, for the most part many people actually respond to ads presented of things they are already interested in. This is a great practice for marketers/advertisers and businesses because a retargeted ad can be just what it takes to push a consumer to click the buy button.
While many consumers get drawn into the popular idea that retargeting is “big brother” watching and somehow negative, I’m of the opinion that both search and site retargeting is an example of media working for the benefit of the consumer as much as the marketer. When the retargeting tactic is used properly, the consumer experience online is enhanced. Advertising is of interest the the consumer because it reflects the consumer’s behavior and intent.