Is creative advertising dying and is Big data taking its place ?

This post will be based on an excellent article written by Michael Barnett from The dictionary of marketing buzz words has gained a new entry this year with the term ‘Big Data’.

big data advertising

That’s a stock picture of a load of big data there

Market research is undergoing a metamorphosis with the advent of ‘Data mining’. As people spend more time on the internet, frantically clicking from site to site, they leave behind an online trail of information. This information is digitally stored and can be analysed for trends. This Big data can reveal so much about users that it’s intimidating. The hoarding of this data is well underway but the analysis process has not yet fully taken off. When marketers learn how to analyse this data it won’t be long before trends, consumption habits and predictions can be extracted and used to engage customers effectively.

There is a worry however that marketers are focusing too heavily on data and allowing it to overshadow the importance of creativity. As Barnett’s article details, the recession has removed the temptation to take risks within advertising and sadly creativity is often based on taking risks. Clients are more comfortable with creating an ad based on hard, reliable data and facts rather than relying on the intrepid nature of creativity.

The head of product at flash sales website Secret Sales, Marta Datkiewicz, advises that data should ‘enhance rather than inhibit creativity and that using it can itself be considered creative’.  

A great example of how brands can combine data with creativity is found within mobile phone company Three’s ‘dancing pony’ ad. The ad has over 6 million hits on YouTube alone. This ad appeared to be led entirely by creative thinking but as the case study explains, it  was in fact supported by internet usage data and research based on the Three target market. This research revealed that lighthearted content found on the internet is emotionally rewarding for viewers. This is where the inspiration for the tagline; “Silly stuff. It matters” comes from. Three proved that they understood their customers and more importantly that they could speak their language .

Overall, though Big data is something which will really shape how advertising operates, it should not take the place of creativity. It should instead guide how advertisers creatively communicate with customers without smothering any innovative or brave thinking.


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