Compelling visuals and engrossing copy will always remain the heart of a creative campaign, but the endless supply of data now available gives creative types a convenient cheat sheet.

Creative inspiration comes from many places. Study after study has been conducted to capture the creative process. Where does the inspiration or “ah ha!” moment come from? Historically the creative process began with a challenge, followed by a brief and then the all mighty brainstorm. Mood boards, thumbnails, research, focus groups, testing and revisions galore followed suit, all to crank out an idea that we hoped would hit the target. Sometimes we hit that target, other times we are wildly off mark.

How can we become more in tune with our audience, how do we really get them to like us, to choose us out of a crowd of equally good looking suitors? (Okay maybe slightly less good looking.)

Welcome to the future, fellow creative types. Data-driven creative is the secret sauce we have been waiting for. Focus groups are no longer a room full of 50–100 people, but now a vast collection of millions upon millions of people, detailing their online behaviors and actual preferences. Guesses are no longer good enough. Why assume based on an average demographic when you can have the cold hard facts on behaviors? More relevant knowledge equals highly informed creative.

Much like the intimate relationship a patient would have with their HCP, data-driven creative can create that personalized touch for a marketing campaign, app or website, keeping the comfort level of that one-on-one relationship. This is essential to the pharma marketing world.

Strategic recommendations are nothing new. Optimizing your messaging and offering real-time updates are the latest tricks every marketer should have up their sleeve. The more on-time and relevant a campaign is, the more intimate and personal it is. Also, marketing versatility becomes a tangible reality with data. Why target just your lowest common denominator when you could be learning a little about everyone on your hit list.

Data provides the real hard-hitting facts that will give context to the initial creative direction while also providing golden real-time feedback in the form of consumer interaction results—actual delivery and optimization of the final creative in real time. Get that? Live results!

Data is changing the way businesses understand their own brand and the way that they are actually perceived, not to mention helping to manage risk and helping to develop incremental gains.

Honestly speaking, the thought of attempting to collect this data myself seriously conflicts with the colorful and in-charge left side of my brain. The successful model of implementing the findings of the data is much like a physician deciphering lab findings from a trusty team of lab technicians and then applying them into a diagnosis. First, it’s up to us to know how to ask the right questions. Once the data is collected from our analytic wizards we can then make creative decisions based on the percolated insights—almost like a cheat sheet for every campaign.

The magic of creative will never be entirely predictably quantifiable. I’m all for stronger success and probability, but there will never be a creative calculator app developed to solve all creative challenges. Data and insights will never be able to replace the soul of a gifted copywriter or the magic eye of an art director. But data can inform that soul, and help it to focus. They harmonize and complement each other. Don’t be afraid, this is great news. At the sweet spot of it all, data-driven creative, much like its mechanics, is an equation. One part data and two parts sweat, labor, experience and talent.

  • Glenn Zujew is Vice President Creative Service at Klick Health. Glenn is a 20-year veteran of the new media and health industry who is constantly pushing the boundaries of technology as well as driving Klick’s creative vision and identity.

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