Big Data as a Complement for Creative Campaigns

by   |   March 14, 2016 3:30 pm   |   0 Comments

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO, Hawthorne Direct

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO, Hawthorne Direct

To achieve high return on investment and more efficient and effective decision making, top marketers are leveraging big data insights within their campaigns. Business goals from customer acquisition to brand building can be enhanced with insight gleaned from analysis of data collected from various sources.

But does marketers’ access to all of this wonderful information and insight mean that creativity and intuition are removed from the equation? Is there only the goal of maximum efficiency and metrics-driven decision making? A data-driven approach does not have to mean that creativity is squeezed out of the picture. Organizations can adopt an approach that strikes a balance between creativity, intuition, and data-driven insight.

Marketers should be accountable for results, but also given the chance to engage and delight customers with unique and creative approaches that stand out. Big data does not have to be a limiter of ideas, but can be a complement to creativity, helping marketers and companies to be precise in their efforts.

Big data allows marketers to tailor their messages by identifying consumer groups that want and/or need a specific product. Analytics provides marketers with demographic insights that, in the past, were never available so they can present the right mix of media campaigns to match those demographics. Whether the demographics point to “Rhode Island factory owners” or “Midwesterners with high incomes and education levels,” big data can help identify messaging and content that is most effective for the target audience. Creative decisions become smarter and the messaging, if done correctly, speaks directly to the consumers’ wants and needs.

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For a specific example of big data influencing creative, consider credit monitoring giant Equifax. Data about consumers’ credit monitoring and scoring triggered a campaign with creative that was focused on the various life stages faced by typical consumers. The credit worthiness of certain groups influenced the creative presented and the positioning of certain benefits. Data also was used to look at identity theft and its resulting financial impacts. This prompted creative campaigns that detailed the impact of identity theft on the consumer’s life, encouraging a more personal response.

Advertising Week Social Club’s Heather Taylor wrote, “The more creative steps outside of the marketing pool and wades into others – including design, research and development, and customer service – the more it becomes just as vital to contributing to the support and growth of a business as analytics.” Fundamentally, metrics and creative can no longer be viewed as separate initiatives. Every creative decision should be at least partially based on data analytics, especially as big data becomes more integrated and accurate.

Once big data is worked into the front-end of the creative process, the results are dramatic. Marketers can use data to eliminate underperforming creative campaigns and redirect money and effort efficiently. Creative will be more focused, requiring fewer iterations and less guesswork. When creative is backed by hard data, marketers do not need to “sell” their ideas as forcefully because the evidence is more tangible. The end result is a dream for Chief Marketing Officers – the rare situation in which costs are reduced while results are improved.

A branding campaign during primetime TV shows can build up broader brand awareness, but it’s not the targeted, data-driven approach. For most firms, whether they are startups or enterprise-level players, using big data to guide and complement the creative and spending decisions is the better move.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO of Hawthorne Direct, an analytics and technology-based agency that specializes in accountable brand advertising. Hawthorne Direct has been a leader in the direct response industry that was pioneered by company Chairman Tim Hawthorne nearly 30 years ago. Jessica’s leadership role involves innovations in analytics and accountable advertising accompanied with service-oriented relationships with the company’s high-profile clients, helping them to envision, create, and execute powerful advertising campaigns that build brands and ignite consumers. To date, Jessica’s clients have included 3M (Command, Post-it, Scotch-Brite), Armor All, Audible, Black & Decker, Brother, Carbonite, Dyson, Fellowes, Gerber, Hamilton Beach, Home Advisor, Hoover, L’Oreal, Neat, PETA, Remington, Transamerica, United Healthcare, and more. She can be reached at (310) 248-3972 or via email at

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