Set your priorities when creating with data

Data should support creatives if used right.
Data should support creatives if used right.

Is your creative team taking full advantage of the new information boom? Check yourself against this list

Cannes is launching a new award, the Data and Insights Lions. It’s great recognition of a practice and skill set that now sits at the heart of our business.  

I’m sure we’ve all used the platitude that analysts and CTOs are the new creatives, combining technology, data and analytics with traditional insights-driven planning.

Our approach as a business, though, has not changed radically.  If data really sits at the heart of our business and inspires new products and platforms then our approach needs to shift.  While the same tried-and- true sources still inform us, new streams are proliferating to provide greater depth.  From search activity to weather forecasts to data thrown off by wearable technologies, decisions can now be immediate, localized and highly personal.  Our job is continually to find new sources of information that provide a competitive edge for our clients.

We have to use the growing store of digital data to inform our understanding of the market and systemically move from old reported data to day old observed behavior. Leveraging this data to consistently map market structure at the on-start of media planning should, if done properly, change the whole historical hierarchy of marketing thinking.

I asked some our more provocative thinkers to give me their new top priority list for creating a (co-owned, integrated, all singing and all dancing) campaign.  All are worth looking at, and it’s an interesting internal viral challenge to set for your own organizations. Here are a few starters:

Media is more important than ever before. Make it count.

  • Find a rallying point in culture
  • Plan both long wave and short wave — long-term fixed issues and channels that address short term flexible issues. 
  • Plan around search and commerce — if your brand can't be found when and where people are searching for the brand, product or issue you will be forgotten.  If you can't drive to a sale what's the point of the plan?


Don’t just follow the herd.  

  • The key to creative insight is using data to find the "why" behind the "what."
  • Micro content is the new battleground, born out of programmatic.
  • Multiple assets need to be lined up against all the segments that you want to connect with.
  • Only pay for the search you need and create the content that people want.
  • Make every touch point interactive and social – leave a visible trail of interaction that makes search work better for you.


No-one is average  

  • Don’t chase demographics; personalize audiences. Segment audiences based on tastes, influences, behavior and context, reach individual people at relevant times and be useful.
  • Relevance and context are key but fashion the context yourself.  Make it real and socialize  — make the idea come to life through an event, association or csr and socialize.
  • Multi-screening makes every TV interactive – invite the action.
  • Locations, occasions and time of day have never been so important. Effective frequency is gone. It is about the operating frequency and cap. Programmatic helps us get there but ideas keep us on top.

Learn fast

  • Start with a prediction, orchestrate the launch and then scenario plan all potential consumer interaction in advance not just in real time. 
  • Test, test, test.  But understand why.  Use attribution modeling to unpick causality and be better at predicting what really works.
  • Include multivariate testing — control vs. benchmark and create institutional memory.
  • Include details of owned media and direct activity to view all the content across all touch points for consistency and relevant content at an audience level.
  • Be willing to adapt from day one and flexible enough to react to change. Recognize the shifts and the signals. You shouldn't end up exactly where you thought you would.


  • Teams win – all this is just a list without a cultural shift in intra and extra clients/agency relations and the role media agencies play leading and shaping communications.  What really makes a good media plan is a team who work as one and collectively take ownership of all these elements and connect them together.

And most importantly, work with clients who want to work this way and who want to grow, who want to create things and only cost cut second.



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