Perhaps Advertising and Science Should Go Out on a Date Some Time

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The two days of Citra Pariwara 2014 seminar series are over but there had been plenty of takeaways and several recurring themes that were echoed during the event. Overall, they provide a nice overview about the current trends of advertising industry.

The main theme was the tension between creativity and effectivity measurement. Through these seminars, we returned to the age old quote found in David Ogilvy’s book on advertising: “It’s not creative unless it sells” and share their experiences and ideas on how to make data and creativity work together.

The key takeaways involve how we can use data to gain better insights, to develop a data-driven creative campaign, and to tie these ideas to generate measurable results. It’s probably useful to think about it as a conceptual guideline to build a 360º campaign that engages the consumers in their everyday routines.

The issues of media fragmentation, increasing consumer choice, and their complex dynamics have been around for some time, and the complexity grew more and more every day. Before the rise of digital media, brands competed with each other to get people to buy one brand over another. Nowadays, brands not only compete with other brands, they compete against memes, gossip, videos, social issues, and basically everything else anytime.

It is in such condition that awareness alone would be insufficient. Brands need to engage its potential consumers and receive more feedbacks in more forms than just sales results. Brands need to improve and innovate, and have creative solutions coupled with technology to make those ideas into something larger than life. Something that not only gives reason for people to buy, but also adds value to their lives.

Marketers and agencies should also collect all the responses they get from people as forms of feedbacks to improve and innovate further. People might love a feature at one time and hate it at another. This wealth of feedback is often confusing, but it is this treasure trove that could provide the deeper, unique, local insights.

With such an abundance came lots of opportunities to capitalize on what’s probably a unique approach to a problem. The data is out there, you just need to learn how to dig it.

Many of us would feel annoyed by research results that contradict our beliefs. Doubly so when our creative ideas get rejected because ‘research suggested otherwise.’ But under cost and benefit analysis, it’s probably better to rework the campaign before it launches, than otherwise. Good ideas sell, bad ideas ruin brands.

One particular idea that struck as really important is what Gina Wibowo suggested, which is to use data to develop concepts that would be further developed into products, brands, and creative solutions.

Perhaps we could stop treating brand campaigns as works of art and magic, and start to treat them as creative experiments. Maybe we could think of every single tweet sent through our social media channel as an experiment to understand what our audience enjoy. Taking it in Brian Capel’s metaphor, maybe we could think of our creative campaigns the way someone would try to win the heart and mind of a potential life partner.

Perhaps it would be useful for creative agencies and marketers to learn more about the sciences. Not just the classical ones, but also the contemporary, computational science with all the scientific models. What ad people understood from trial and errors, could be made richer with empirical results from scientific experiments and theoretical ideas.

Perhaps advertising and science need to go out on a date some time. They have much to learn from each other, the way clients and agencies need to collaborate to provide better business results. Marketers and advertising agencies need to understand people, and sociologists require a live laboratory to test their models and further their understanding of how people behave.

As data grows more abundantly, in time there would be an increase in demand for people with statistical, mathematical, and socio-behavioral savvy in the advertising industry. People who know how to select the wheat from the chaff. And perhaps, started by our return on ideas, we could someday provide our clients with the best return of investment they could ever wanted: an almost complete understanding of how to keep their consumers happy and satisfied.

Lurino Bertorani is a data analyst at mediatrac by day and cartoon character by night.