Marketers claim obsession with data is killing creativity

'No sign of data scientists in Swindon'Arguments over what comes first, the data or the creative, have been vexing agency minds for decades. But marketers, it seems, are in no doubt, with nearly two-thirds (64%) saying senior management will no longer support pure brand-building and almost three quarters (72%) feeling that a culture of measurement is killing creativity.
According to a new study by digital agency Dotted, many marketers are growing increasingly concerned over the lack of balance between measurement, data and creativity. Nearly a third (32%) of those surveyed listed structured creative thinking as what drives early campaign preparation, ahead of previous campaign (26%), or conversion data (25%) analysis.
Marketers were also asked about their first action on receiving a project brief. In this respect, the study revealed a much closer split. Just over a quarter (26%) said they asked their teams to start planning the creative, while 25% tell their staff to look at the demographics and data.
It seems some marketing departments are trying to address the challenge by moulding teams capable of weighing up creative in light of data insights, as well as wider organisational objectives. Nearly a third of respondents (29%) said they are seeking more staff with a general business understanding, and 27% listed problem-solving ability as a priority. Nearly a quarter (24%) said they look for management degrees when hiring for junior positions.
Dotted managing director Rebecca Manville said: “It’s alarming to see so many marketers concerned with a lack of balance between measurement, data and creativity in their organisations. This underlines the importance of finding a repeatable method for insight and creativity to meet – in a way which works for the whole team and allows instincts to be explored.
“Finding the right process will allow marketing departments to consistently negotiate this balance and correctly prioritise activity. It also helps efficiency because everybody will know where they stand, and previously difficult decisions – such as when analysis hands over to creative – are simplified.”
Julia Munder, international marketing manager for luxury leather online brand Maxwell Scott explained that data helps keep the team’s ideas in check. She added: “Although it’s important to resist the urge to jump to conclusions too quickly, data helps redirect and focus creative energy in the most productive way. Quality insight, coupled with great ideas and governed by good instincts seems to work best for us.
“I’m using ever greater levels of detail to analyse our campaigns. We need to know what works and why. Our CEO is easier to convince when you can argue your ideas with conversion data. Of course, there are brand building activities, like online PR, that you can’t measure immediately. The effect of a good PR piece is often only visible long-term.”

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