Back to News

eightytwenty in the IMJ


November 23, 2016


Data led Creative –

The Rebirth of Creativity

The increasing dominance of digital platforms in reaching consumers is fundamentally changing the lives of creative people in advertising. And the data-led revolution is one of the main engines pushing this new paradigm.


Advertising used to be straightforward.  Come up with a blockbuster campaign anchored by a pool of clever TV spots, supplemented by some print ads and banners and away you go. But in this new era where data-driven marketing is in vogue, creative people are now being provided with the opportunity of employing data for their benefit.  Some will have you believe that data-led or programmatic creative will actually sound the death knell for creativity. In reality, the technology fueling data-driven marketing will in fact spark a creative rebirth.   The ability to gather consumer behavior and intent signals and organize them into a deeper, more sophisticated and accurate view of your audience will actually help creatives do their jobs better.  Who in their right minds wouldn’t embrace this new opportunity?

More Relevant Creative

Since the dawn of advertising, creatives have used incomplete, sometimes even vague, notions of who their target audience is in order to craft campaigns aimed to inspire, engage and ultimately drive purchase.  Imagine how much more fun they can have and how much more successful they will be when their storytelling genius can be activated and informed by the behavioral and demographic knowledge and targeting provided by, for example, Facebook and Instagram. With its 29 main targeting criteria and thousands of categories and subcategories, Facebook is the world’s biggest, most sophisticated and most exciting CRM platform ever. Twitter, Snapchat and others are quickly following Facebook’s example, so the opportunities here are enormous. In a recent campaign for a leading Telco, we developed over 250 pieces of creative content to sequence and optimise the delivery of messaging at all stages of the consumer journey whilst embracing the nuances of the platforms, devices and formats. The campaign delivered significantly reduced cost per sale vs other media along with rich audience insights that helped the brand better understand exactly who purchased their products. In the case of a leading retailer, we helped them to maximize the effectiveness of their TV ads on Facebook, ensuring the majority of those exposed to the content actually consumed the messaging – 99% of people in fact! Video completion rates also increased from 35% to 75%. Prior to optimizing the content, only 12% of those exposed to the TV ads on Facebook actually consumed the key message.

Precision and Scale

Not only can you find people on Facebook – you can find lots of them. The beauty of Facebook is that there is no trade-off between precision and scale. You can have both.

Through ‘lookalike’ expansion, social platforms deliver scale beyond traditional demographic targeting. Firstly, they identify your core audience and analyse common behaviours, they then expand your reach to people who behave very similarly, effectively finding your customer’s ‘dopplegangers’.

Facebook, Twitter and more recently LinkedIn enable you to match your database of current customers and segment them from your prospects. In doing so brands are able to deliver different messages to current customers, prospects, or even differentiate between the shopper and the consumer. For brands transacting offline there is even an array of solutions that help to increase and measure store visits and sales.

Effective Advertising

But the opportunity doesn’t stop there. The right type of data forces discipline and robustness in thinking; it should unlock greater transformational potential because when understood and interrogated fully it should make creative arguments bulletproof without suffocating the creative piece of magic that underpins it. Without it creatives are effectively making informed guesses with seriously high stakes. We don’t expect clients to make decisions on where to place their advertising and messages based upon which OOH site looks nice or instinctively feels right, or what TV programmes they think might be right based upon ‘informed’ opinion. But it seems counterintuitive to then put a greater risk on the future commercial success of the brand down to, at worst, being seduced by an agency planner and creative storyteller at presentation of the idea; or at best, the storyteller backed up with a bit of ‘home grown’ qual. The higher proportion of campaign budgets are in media yet it is the creative work that has the power to disproportionately pay back to a significant extent even outside of the campaign period. Yet for the most part, the data rigour here is seldom exercised to the same extent as with the media placement.

Enabling Change

The last thing that we in the digital ad community and the wider advertising industry need to be doing is striking undue fear in the hearts of nervous creatives that data and programmatic is the devil incarnate.  We need to start promoting the truth, which is that data and technology will allow them to continue to flourish but with an updated toolkit.  Because in the blink of an eye, we are going to find our industry at a place where television and the much-hyped Internet of Things will also be powered by data-driven programmatic technology; even TV ads will be as hyper-targeted and relevant as digital ads.  The ability to adjust creative on the fly and generate an army of different iterations for different consumers, formats and platforms will be the currency that drives the age of personal marketing.  Convincing creatives that technology and data represent a golden opportunity to strengthen brand relationships with consumers should be the gospel. In a world where digital advertising can at times be accused of alienating the consumer with broad-brush retargeting, tailored creative execution that is personal, relevant and optimized can excel in both entertaining and delighting the consumer.

Braver Creative

Data can be a huge tool in the ongoing fight against mediocrity. It should be the way in which agencies remove subjectivity from decision making. It should enable greater creativity by eliminating the risk for clients and enabling them to buy braver creative ideas.

Great creativity, creativity that can impact culture as well as the bottom-line, will be more commonplace with the progressive client and agency minds that open themselves up to take those leaps of faith, de-risked through the value of data. There are always going to be anomalies, however this is the point – is it creative advertising if it’s not effective?


David Connor is CEO of eightytwenty, a leading digital communications agency in Ireland.

This article was first published in volume 42, number 7 of the Irish Marketing Journal.




November 23, 2016

Share this...

By closing this message or continuing to browse this website, you signify that you agree to our privacy policy and cookie policy.