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Owen Rees-Jones Creative Strategy Manager Ve Interactive

A Dash of Data and a Sprinkle of Creativity; How to bake the perfect banner

Much like that mouth-watering double chocolate fudge cake you swore off last January, the best banners are made from several different ingredients. This principle holds true for almost all advertising mediums, but it’s especially important for display.  The rise of Big Data to its current prevalence within the digital arena has meant that brands need to be thinking about how to bring their data and creative ideas together, to produce targeted content that both engages and excites their consumers.  Increasingly, brands who aren’t doing this risk being left in the digital dust. 

Historically, the data and creative departments have lived in different wings of the same manor, rarely crossing paths or speaking to one another.  This disconnect has been compounded by the mass adoption of programmatic buying technology.  Brands suddenly found themselves with a plethora of different targeting options that were long desired but never quite within their reach.  It was somewhat unsurprising then, that there was a tendency in display for brands to focus their time and money on making sure that they were fully leveraging all the data and targeting sources at their disposal.  The actual creative content became something of an afterthought, or at least secondary to data and targeting strategies.

Whilst the breadth and quality of creatives within display has improved dramatically in recent years, there is still a missing link between data and the creative teams that are producing the content.  Big Data is enabling brands of all sizes to generate meaningful insights into their consumers, and this data, these insights, need to be powering creative content that fully takes advantage of the technology-rich environment in which it lives.

If you’ll forgive me for going back to the cake analogy for a moment, the most successful campaigns are ultimately going to be the ones where creativity and data are fully mixed in together on every level, from top to bottom.  That being said, here are two different strategies brands can use to work with their display and creative partners to infuse data creatively into their campaigns:

1. Pre-campaign

The first way data can be used to inform creative takes place pre-campaign, using it to inspire a campaign. Data can tell you a lot about your target demographic, allowing you to identify trends and actionable insights specifically tailored towards your intended audience. Dove Real Beauty is one such example of a brand using pre-campaign data analysis to good effect.  Dove found, through extensive surveys, that 54% of woman globally agreed that they were their own worst beauty critics.  This insight was the basis for a creative concept that had women describing themselves to an FBI sketch artist followed by a stranger describing them to the same artist and exploring the differences.

2. Mid-campaign

Another way to use data in creative is during the campaign itself, often in real-time. For example, the Tennessee matchmaker campaign aimed to promote tourism in Tennessee, highlight the diversity of activities the state has to offer and make it easier for people to plan a holiday there.  To achieve this the campaign filmed hundreds of short video clips highlighting different attractions throughout the state and then in real-time used these short clips to make custom pre-roll ads based on targeting and demographic data. 

These are just two examples of how data is informing creativity, all the while taking full advantage of programmatic technology.  There are many more.  And whilst a lot of high profile campaigns are getting this right, it is still something that needs to filter down into a wider display context.