James Collier is chief data officer at M&C Saatchi Group AUNZ
Ask a room full of marketers to raise a hand if creativity is an effective catalyst for business growth and you should get a room full of raised hands.
Ask those same marketers if they can prove the impact of creativity on a brand’s bottom line and you’ll unfortunately see fewer hands.
Creativity has quite literally never been a more powerful catalyst for growth, yet our ability to clearly articulate its impact on the customer or the business continues to be a struggle.
Over the past decade, marketing has endured significant data and technological disruption.
We’ve seen a rush of digital and social innovation wash over the web. Bringing with it a wave of new leadership. Platforms built around immense volumes of behavioural data, carefully crafted consumer experience and artificial intelligence. As these platforms have grown, marketers have rightly explored and invested in their ecosystems. Ecosystems that can offer both a galaxy and goldmine of data and new canvases for creativity.
Step out of these digital gardens and look at either the open web or the rapid digitisation of all other channels and you face another interesting challenge. Marketing automation.
As marketers look to leverage a treasure trove of customer data, they inevitably seek help from marketing technology, or more specifically the marketing algorithms that allow for the agile activation of that customer data.
The result of all this marketing automation is just a handful of algorithms now have a major stake in the marketing economy. Considering that many competing businesses target the same or very similar audiences, you inevitably see that over time a few choice channels, publishers or environments start to emerge.
As technology narrows the focus of marketing, creativity becomes an even more important weapon in the war for growth.
So what’s the result of this accelerating data and creative opportunity?
Unfortunately it’s a fragmentation of marketing and with it the marketer. There are those who have always and will always find success with creativity and those who have harnessed the immense power and value of data.
Marketers have wrongly been asked to pick sides. A battle of either/or.
But in response to this tug of war we’ve seen the rise of what we call the “quantified CMO”. A marketer who is an alchemist of art and science, who blends fearless creativity with clear quantification.
The quantified CMO is relentless in their pursuit of creativity. They expect ambitious thinking and market-busting ideas, but they are as invested in proving the impact and value of this creative expectation as they are in seeing it in the first place.
Which means planning with the end in mind, putting emphasis on a robust and strategic measurement framework.
It means pushing beyond measuring the delivery of the campaign and instead focusing on the consumer’s response.
It means studying incremental impact, running quant and investing in qual. It means building a library of campaign intelligence that can be used to compare and contrast future activity. It means taking a long-term view while keeping an eye on short-term performance.
In the past month, we have launched brilliant brand building work for clients as diverse as Woolworths, Minderoo, BWS and Origin. Work that demonstrates the power of creativity and, importantly, work that we can quantify and justify all the way up to the boardroom of those organisations.
In the battle for business growth, the marketer who refuses to choose sides, who leads with creativity but embraces quantification, has the advantage and, in my humble opinion, that’s a pretty significant advantage to have.
James Collier is chief data officer, M&C Saatchi Group AUNZ