Creativity- It’s all in the numbers


Following his Masterclass at Mumbrella 360, OMD Sydney’s Managing Director Mark Jarrett explores the symbiotic relationship between creativity, data and innovation.

The preconception that data only means testing, optimisation and efficiency is a very linear approach to the wealth of information and insight it brings. Equally the assertion that creativity and ideas are only great if data is ignored, is an approach that denies those developing them a rich source of inspiration and guidance. Data can drive highly creative and effective, insights, content and customer engagement, creative inspiration really can be driven by the numbers.

We can be forgiven for believing that data and creativity sit at opposite ends of the marketing spectrum and certainly in today’s data buzzword heavy environment coupled with procurement and margin pressures it’s no surprise that data is perceived to sit a very long way from creativity and much closer to the world of efficiency and effectiveness.  The rapid growth of this misconception has the worrying potential to push creativity out of the industry altogether.

But creativity can be informed and indeed led by data, and the key is understanding where to find the right data insights and how to use them. A great example of data driving creative content is Tourism Australia’s content for the ‘Pink Lake’.


Here SEO data picked up that a huge number of international consumers (particularly from China and Japan) were searching for “Pink Lake” something there was no specific content for. Based on the SEO team’s recommendation the Pink Lake page went live on It became the most visited destination page of FY13/14, surpassing organic visitation to Great Barrier Reef page by 20,000 visitors.

Whilst this is a great example of data driving creativity, it is an example which is driven by a specialist team looking at specialist data. In order to evolve the level of creativity and content that data can deliver it’s vital to aggregate. Aggregation can deliver a more powerful outcome by creating solutions at a moment’s notice with consolidated business & consumer insight, allowing stronger, more informed and relevant content. Estimations put the amount of data in the world as doubling every 18 months with only 0.5% of it analysed at all, so aggregation is vital if we are to make sense of a more significant proportion of the data available to us.

Developing a single source of truth that combines the plethora of data sources at our disposal is critical in providing a strategist with the ability to review audience and business insights in a single accessible place. This ensures speed of thought and access to crucial information to develop creative strategies fuelled by a combination of data sources such as Sales, Search, Social, Audience, Programmatic, Brand or any other relevant data.

Deriving insights directly from the key metrics that are most important to a business allows the strategy to dictate the specific business challenge – naturally these insights deliver the opportunity for more meaningful creativity. Creative accountability is also heightened as the trackable data points that have helped generate the insights and ideas can be followed through to the post campaign results.

Bringing together all of the above is a task often hindered by time, data silos, the tendency to sit business and audience data separately and challenges with effectively integrating different skill sets and tools. With that said, it’s a massive opportunity and the sooner we bring the two closer together the better. It isn’t a case of choosing between creativity or data, but blending both so that creativity can be driven by the numbers.

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