Why creativity and data science are the perfect partners

05 October 2015 / Rob Shaw

We all know that having the big idea and producing great creative is crucial in getting cut through, standing out from the masses and being noticed in today’s crowded market. There is much debate about what makes a creative idea great, but regardless of how good the idea, if it doesn’t reach your audience, isn’t relevant or if they’re not interested, it just isn’t going to work.

While campaign planning in advertising agencies is nothing new, the world we live in today is vastly different from that of recent decades. Today’s consumers have more choice than ever before; there are more media channels, more devices and more marketing messages. Consumers are smart, savvy and recognise marketing content when they see it. However, marketers are also in a much better position to solve these challenges; now, marketers have access to a plethora of data available at their fingertips. Going forward, successful brands will be the ones that can harness this data and use it to support great creative ideas.

Good data analysis can tell you many things. Most importantly it can help you gain a greater understanding of your customers and their behaviours. But, there is still some confusion around big data and data science. Indeed, we’ve all heard of the ‘ad men vs. math men’ or ‘left brain vs. right brain’ debate and the threats of data stifling creativity, but is that really the case? Surely, to be successful today you need both. They are skills that complement each and together it’s these two halves that make the whole.

There are two key outcomes from data analysis: identifying your target audience and understanding what content engages them. For the former, knowing your customers are avid consumers of one media or another is relatively simple stuff but knowing more intricate details such as whether they holiday with their young family or a group of friends will go further in helping you decide whether that big idea will resonate with them. A data analyst can do this. They test out the hunches, ideas or assumptions that are often made about the way a business works or a customer behaves and so, identify and predict your audience’s behaviour.

When it comes to online content and understanding what engages your audience, data analysts mine readily available data from sources such as weblogs, search queries, social media and email. This rich data builds a picture of your customer, which can then be used to deploy relevant and timely communications specifically for them – something we’ve been doing for Jet2. For example, you may have identified a young family who regularly book flights to Malaga and then head further into the Andalusian countryside. This extra level of information in your data – where they stay - means you can create highly-targeted content based on what they’re actually interested in. Without this data, assumptions such as, ‘they’re likely to be going on a young-people’s holiday’ can lead to irrelevant content that the audience will either simply ignore, or worse still, become frustrated by.

Knowing the demographics and media consumption of your target audience is one thing, but knowing what content appeals to them is quite another. So, use data to your advantage. The actual analytics is best left to an analyst but what you do with the information once you have it and how you turn that into a big idea is best left to a creative.

Today, great creative minds working together with skilled data scientists is where campaigns that truly engage and excite come from. It takes a data scientist to be able to predict how customers will react and behave, what they’re likely to respond to, what device they will be using and what media they will be consuming and when. But it will always take a creative mind to turn this in to something that makes the audience stop and go ‘wow’. It is this combination of the two that dictates why creativity, or indeed data analysis, on its own is simply no longer enough in today’s modern world.