In our industry, we acknowledge the longstanding rub between the quant and the qual. We know that the math and the creative imagination have had their struggles to co-exist. But it’s become a bit of a false or dated construct. It’s a fun debate, sure, but the either/or conclusion cannot be supported any longer.
Most of us believe that math has changed marketing for good. Further, we see that automated, applied math or data analytics has radically, specifically changed digital marketing. Yet, the focus for some time has been on what analytics has changed as far as the media execution: where and how quickly you can target, serve, optimize and so on.
As programmatic has come into its heyday, we’ve tended to focus our conversations on progress just on the media environment. Yes, we’ve long known that media and creative must work equally as hard, that they must collaborate within the marketing plan — but we don’t tend to talk much about the creative when we talk about marketing automation.
The Math/Creative Unification
As we take a look at what’s happening in the industry right now, it’s clear that tech is enabling a great deal when it comes to creative. It’s almost as though — as we’ve gotten more comfortable with automation — we are more comfortable exploring the reaches of data-driven marketing. Naturally, as our comfort increases, that extends to creative, as well.
Yes, we continue to achieve new levels of sophistication in audience targeting, as well as more advanced forms of audience and propensity modeling. The availability of audience based inventory increases quarterly, with more and more being transacted this way. Our optimization options and techniques are getting slicker and slicker. And progress is thrumming across platforms (especially mobile). But, on top of all this, there are several major developments on the creative side that we see:
- Agencies and brands working with their suppliers and networks to execute dynamic creative on their programmatic buys
- New, non-standard formats being used within any given unit or experience
- Greater comfort with longer form creative units
- More creative iteration on mobile marketing as data is being used to personalize creative dynamically on mobile programmatic
Technology has advanced our industry as a whole and helped to better unite media and creative — but has it become so useful that it’s usurped the creative imagination? If creative decisions are handled by the machine, is there no room for the human mind in any given marketing campaign?
Will Automation Replace Imagination?
No. Automated creative execution has not replaced the imagination — it has freed it up. With decision science now able to address creative iteration, optimization and aspects of personalization on the fly, we can turn our attention to imagining the creative experience more broadly.
We are freed up to consider the publishing environment and new approaches to engaging visually, with words and with the mechanics of any given unit itself (or interplay between units on a page or across platforms) to draw and boost engagement. As we concept and invent creative alternatives for different audiences — tech driven decision-making and execution on the creative side makes us faster and more nimble with less waste, allowing us to put our imagined options to the test much more efficiently.
So, while math helps the marketer, creative automation gives the imagination more room to grow and apply its musings back to the work in new and better ways.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.