Analytics and Creativity

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Selling people on the idea that analytics can be a catalyst for creative freedom isn't easy. We have been doing analytics in the "creative" environment of a communications agency for a while and …

Selling people on the idea that analytics can be a catalyst for creative freedom isn't easy. We have been doing analytics in the "creative" environment of a communications agency for a while and whenever analytics and creative are thrown in the mix together the natural instinct is a right brain, left brain power struggle. Happily, we have found ways for analytics to help partner with the creative teams and the sparks created are usually bigger and richer ideas.

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  • 1. Global Data & Analytics Analytics - Creative Freedom with the Promise of Analytics By Dimitri Maex Managing Director Marketing Effectiveness Ogilvy New York Ogilvy & Mather
  • 2. Introduction Selling people on the idea that analytics can be a catalyst for creative freedom isn’t easy. I have been doing analytics in the “creative” environment of a communications agency for a while and whenever analytics and creative are thrown in the mix together the natural instinct is a right brain, left brain power struggle. Happily, we have found ways for analytics to help partner with the creative teams and the sparks created are usually bigger and richer ideas. Traditionally, creative people see analytics as a discipline narrowly and perhaps “soullessly” focused on ROI. One which judges the quality of new ideas by looking backward rather than forward and in doing so tends to advocate the status quo and stand in the way of innovation. Analysts test new thinking to death with endless focus groups and market research. Because of all of this, analytics is often seen as an obstacle to new ideas and the enemy of “true” creativity. In the past, analytics has all too often been used just as a measurement tool, and not as a source for inspiration. David Ogilvy once said that most people use research (read analytics) the way a drunk uses a lamppost – for support rather than illumination. A New Form of Analytics Now analytics no longer has to be used in this way. In this digital world, with its vast quantities of data available at the speed of light, there is a different kind of analytics that can be creativity’s best friend. Let’s first define analytics as it can mean different things to different people. Generally analytics does 3 things: • Measure : we find out what happened, what works and what doesn’t work • Understand : we try and understand the reasons why we observed the things we saw in our measurement process • Optimize : we use the insights we developed to optimize our campaigns. These 3 activities, measure, understand and optimize, are not one off linear processes with a clear beginning and a clear end. They are part of a cycle of continuous improvement whereby one measures, understands, optimizes and then, once again measures the impact of the optimization decisions. Companies gradually become better through subsequent iterations of the cycle. 2
  • 3. In our digital world two important changes have given analytics the opportunity to become creative’s best friend : volume and speed. With these new tools at the table, we have found a way for creativity and analytics to sit side by side. Volume of data The volume of granular data in digital enables us to get a much deeper understanding of the performance of creative work. Digital creative scorecards are a great example of how analytics can provide relevant feedback to creatives. These scorecards are different from regular marketing scorecards in that they display results of creative executions along dimensions that are relevant for creative development. The chart below shows an example of a creative scorecard that displays the performance of online display advertising as measured by both the volume of leads generated and the cost per lead. The results are shown by formats, message content, placement and creative concepts in an easy to digest format. This information gives creative teams real time feedback on what works and what doesn’t work and which creative decisions matter. The insights derived from analyzing digital creative can be used across any channel. Digital can be the perfect experimentation lab for ideas and concepts that will be rolled out across other channels. An analysis of online advertising for one of our hospitality 3
  • 4. clients recently showed that the vast majority of all bookings that came in through banners for their flagship brand was actually booked for other brands. When we applied this insight to TV and tested TV commercials that featured the flagship brand in one region we found out that bookings in that region increased 12% for all brands. Of course most channels will soon be digital. This will only increase the ability of analytics teams to provide relevant feedback for the creative process. We recently leveraged Google TV tune out data on DRTV ads for one of our clients to specifically identify when people were tuning out. The chart below shows the average tune out rates across all of their 60 sec ads on the green line. The red line shows the tune out rate for a DRTV spot that show a tune out peak around the 16th sec. This was exactly when a fairly aggressive call to action was introduced. This immediately helped us smoothen the transition from informational to selling and reduce tune-out. The previous examples demonstrate how digital channels provide us with more granular information which allows us to gain insights that can rapidly inform creative decisions. Speed of data availability 4
  • 5. The 2nd big impact digital has had on the analytical process is that it has put the traditional optimization cycle on steroids. Historically, it would take a couple of weeks or sometimes even months for the results of a campaign to come in. In this digital age we can get feedback on the results of our actions almost instantaneously. This real time feedback has disrupted the traditional optimization cycle. The beginning and end of each stage have blurred. Real time feedback has transformed our traditional 3 staged analysis process into a platform for real time experimentation. This is best illustrated by the power and versatility of testing in digital. Of course testing is not new. David Ogilvy once said that perhaps the most important word in the lexicon of advertising was “test”. But David usually had to wait weeks or months for the results of an in market test to come back. These days we can read the results of a test in days or sometimes even hours. The image below shows the user interface of Google Site Optimizer. Its allows the user to track the performance of various tests real time, as if he or she were watching a horse race. This rapid feedback loop can be very addictive, especially for creatives who are watching their own work. Tools like this can truly put the data in the hands of the people who create, and subsequently “tune” the work. And testing is cheap in digital. We can easily test multiple versions. When we implemented multivariate testing technology on one of our clients landing pages recently we tested 243 different variations of the page. After 15 days we were able to pick the best performing page which showed a 15% higher conversion rate that the original page. That’s a 43:1 ROI on the test itself! 5
  • 6. This new form of testing will also further help take the subjectivity and opinions out of the decision making. The results will tell us who is right, period. Testing can be to the creative process what Hawk-Eye has been to tennis. With Hawk-Eye tennis introduced a neutral piece of technology, a scientific judge who tells us empirically what the verdict is. And it’s a verdict no one could argue with. Analytics can be the Hawk-Eye of the creative process. Rather than discussing iterations and versions based on best practices, experience or simply taste, we can just try them out and let analytics be the judge of what works best. End of discussion. Now is the time for sustainable increases in ROI. Analytics and Creative Freedom This combination of high volume and high speed really provides analytics the opportunity to provide the platform for experimentation. If we have an idea, we can just trial it. If we’re wrong, we will find out soon enough so we can limit the damages. In digital, analytics can give us the license to experiment and therefore provide us with more creative freedom. 4 things are needed to make analytics the catalyst for creative freedom : 1. Get real time feedback : implement tools that provide real time feedback on the performance of campaigns. 2. Put data/results in the hands of creatives : make the real time feedback available to people who are creating the work in an easy to digest format / user interface. 3. Get the license to experiment : use the promise of analytics to set up the processes that will enable more experimentation and make that linchpin of success and not the sole terrain of “reckless risk takers.” 4. Apply learnings to all channels : use digital as a lab for generating learnings that can be applied to all channels. In an era when every CMO is rapidly learning and mastering the lexicon of ROI and every quarter has become the Holy Grail, all marketers need faster, more effective tools that constantly strive to eliminate the guesswork from decision making. The data and the tools to make this happen for creative decisions are now ready for prime time. 6