How data can drive great creative content

Posted by Betsy Farber on May 6th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

These are challenging times for agencies. The future of creative seems to be at the mercy of data and analytics that marketers don't know what to do with. The industry has become seduced by the the idea of automating everything at scale, and the human element -- how marketers are going to emotionally move consumers -- falls by the wayside. But Alan Schulman, VP, global digital marketing and brand content at SapientNitro, discussed in his case study presentation on Day 2 at the iMedia Agency Summit in Austin, Texas, that data can in fact drive great creative.

With the influx of data, "agencies are left with the least amount of leverage," said Schulman. But data can inform creative, it just takes getting over the friction created from the left and right brains. Human insights and creative ideas rely on skill (right brain), while the data and analytics have a different set of more pragmatic values (left brain). If marketers can get past this tension, data can help marketers to deliver content with a solid big brand idea. But what does data driven content look like? Schulman gave three examples that use mass reach, targeted segments, and even one-to-one.

X Games

X Games uses a social participation tool, The HypeMeter, to connect viewers watching the event at home with those watching live. The technology allows viewers to weigh-in on the action, interact on social media platforms in real time, and connects viewers like never before based on the data measured by the meter.


The innovative shoe company embedded a GPS tracking chip into the shoes of its sponsored marathon runners and converted the data -- resembling a colorful Rorschach inkblot -- into real time custom brand images that looks like beautiful art. It then is transformed into wearable art that becomes the package and customers can purchase the marathoner's package of their choice.


This Australian pet adoption app, based on the notion that dogs look like their owners, uses facial recognition to match rescued dogs faces' that are similar to the user's face. The user simply takes a photo of their face on their phone and the software technology scans it using facial recognition. The data that is generated finds the best match, which can then be shared throughout social media. And even if you're not in the market for a dog, there are other ways to contribute and it builds awareness for a great cause.

Schulman emphasizes that great content can be created when the data is applied in the right way. It has to involve marketers embracing the data to find the inspiring ideas, and remembering the human element more than ever.

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