Creativity & Data

Mad Men captivated the world, showing us the creative (if shady) side of marketing at the revolution of advertising in the 1950s. All of their campaigns were based on creativity and wit, and while that same creativity is still essential to marketing success today, it’s not enough.

We’re existing in an extremely saturated environment, with ads flashing at us everywhere we look; we see them on TV, on social media, and they even pop up every time we search for something on Google. Our campaigns have moved from difficult-to-measure mediums like newspapers and billboards and into digital media like Facebook Ads. These platforms give us so much data with each campaign we run, and this data is crucial to success, too.

I’ve seen a number of articles and blog posts dissecting this, trying to identify if creativity or data is more important for the success of your Facebook Ads. My answer: you need both in equal measure. Let’s take a look at why.

Why You Need the Creativity

We’ve already mentioned the oversaturated environment; this means we’re up against more competition for our audience’s attention than ever before. It has also resulted in a declining attention span from the majority of users, with 55% of users leaving your content in 15 seconds or less after clicking on it.

Creativity is what gets those users clicking, and—just as importantly—sticking around long enough to read and convert. It helps us to identify ways to appeal to our users, whether we’re using logic, emotion, humor, or a combination of all three. It can also help identify and relate to our customer’s pain points in a way that helps us standing out—and above—our competition.

This brand found a creative way to appeal to users’ emotions, which can help drive clicks and sales.

Think of Super Bowl ads. People actually stick around to watch them; just like the half-time show, it’s part of the event. These ads all thrive because of their creativity, aptly applied to the target audience they know is watching.

How many gyms would think to run a Facebook Ad with one of their staff members singing a song and playing a ukulele? My guess is not many. Their creativity helps them to stand out, attracting a unique but excited audience.

Creativity in your Facebook Ads allows you to stand out in users’ Newsfeeds, and it helps you cultivate your brand and an engaged online community. This is so important; your campaigns will never be successful without them.

Why You Need the Data
We’re living in the age of information, and nothing will be successful without having the solid data to back up what you’re doing.

Facebook’s own Ads Manager can give us more information that we would have ever thought possible fifteen years ago, and it’s exceedingly accurate.

We can see how many users saw our ad, clicked on it, and converted; Facebook can even track if users go back to your site several days after the first click and convert then. We see exactly how many conversions we’re getting from our ads, what our CTRs our, how relevant our ads are, and how much our conversions cost. Split testing allows us to fine-tune these numbers, helping us detect what we’re doing right and where we’re going astray.

David Welch said it best when he stated “Creative thrills, but data pays bills.” If you want to truly maximize your ad spend and get the largest ROI possible, you need deep data to help you do that.

With the kind of information we have available to us, you can take smarter risks, be able to predict and calculate ROI, and target the right people with the right ads and the right placements. Just as much as they should be creative, your ads must also be nearly scientific.

How Both Create Incredible Ads
While we emphasize how data-driven we are at Abacus (and have built our agency around that data), this doesn’t mean we’re not invested in the originality and inspiration needed to create amazing ads. We embrace both completely instead of neglecting one for the other; this makes us unique among agencies.

Marshall McLuhan said it best when he stated “the medium is the message.” Each medium, or ad platform, will have its own unique contribution to your message. We’ve embraced that at Abacus, knowing that you need to have the data to understand that intrinsic message of a platform before you dive in head first. Once you’ve got the data to understand it, you can utilize the creativity to adapt to it.

Facebook ad example

Social media has shaped our messages in a different way than ever before; as businesses, we’ve needed to adapt our content in a way that it’s optimized for interaction and sharing through techniques like sharing user generated content.

In his book Technopoly, Neil Postman argues technological change will reshape society. This means that not only do new mediums change the message, they can also change the entire advertising ecosystem. Technological change can—and does— impact a total change in society. He states:

“Technological change is neither additive nor subtractive. It is ecological. … One significant change generates a total change. If you remove the caterpillars from a given habitat, you are not left with the same environment minus caterpillars: you have a new environment … After television, the United States was not America plus television; television gave a new coloration to every political campaign, to every home, to every school, to every church, to every industry.”

Facebook Ads has completely altered advertising, changing both the medium and the message, along with the entire advertising ecosystem by introducing a type of data unparalleled before. Their targeting system alone is outstanding, and relies on a large portion of data that users actually supply themselves with their on-site activity. They now see ads that are overwhelmingly relevant and seemingly personalized to them (at least when the ads are good) showing up right in their newsfeeds. Technological change has become a total change.

Facebook continues to adapt, finding new mediums for businesses to share our message to customers. We’ve seen rapidly developing platforms with Instagram Ads, Messenger Ads, and the newer Story Ads. Both data and creativity are required to discover best practices and optimal use cases for each.

Final Thoughts
Don Draper would have killed to get his hands on the kind of data Facebook Ads gives us for free when we’re running our campaigns, let alone the data Facebook’s Audience Insights can give us about the users we’ve connected with.

As our world becomes increasingly digital, we’ll need to rely more heavily on both creativity to stand out from competition, and data to create smart, efficient campaigns that convert. Both are required to evolve with the constantly and rapidly changing world of digital advertising.

Ultimately, as our medium adapts, our message changes. This requires nimble, agile marketers who are ready to tackle the evolution with both data and creativity. We’re ready and embracing the future of Facebook Ads. Are you?

Want to merge exceptional and originality with deep data? We can help with that. Call us and learn how today!

Peter Reitano
Peter Reitano

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