Thought Leadership March 28th 2018

Finding the right balance of data & creativity: the birth of new decision-making processes

In marketing, and advertising in particular, the concept of creativity often refers to artistic processes. How does an advertising campaign, a TV commercial or billboard capture our attention based on its design?

However, in addition to artistic processes, Jean-Baptiste Bouzige, CEO and founder of Ekimetrics, reminds us that “creativity shapes how we think, work and even how we take decisions.”

Creative thinking allows companies to solve complex problems, and be able to undertake any type of project calmly. In this context, data plays a key role by providing us with facts and figures in new areas, and helping to combat feelings of resignation.” Now, decision-makers have the potential to find out everything they need to know develop a creative idea or their business.

 

Data is scientific field, while advertising seems to be a more artistic and creative process. So how does this marriage work? 

Data and creativity are often opposed, just as literary and scientific profiles are. The idea is to break free from these shackles and construct new ways of working that support change. The luxury industry does this very well. This sector relies heavily on experience and intuition (e.g. choosing a renowned designer to add prestige to a collection), while also using statistical models to optimise product ranges and in-store merchandising. 

 

What is the benefit for advertisers? 

Advertisers need to construct new processes based on data thus providing a key opportunity to move towards more pragmatism and efficiency. Their aim should be to find a happy medium between data and experience i.e. avoiding falling into the trap of an ‘all data’ or ‘all intuition’ approach. Inevitably, this creates a culture shock between the old and the new but data science is a powerful tool when it comes to driving change. By asking the right questions about decision-making processes, data science can identify flaws, shake things up (in a good way) and challenge business conventions and habits (to improve the ROI). 

 

In your opinion, what is the best example of a campaign whose creativity is data-driven? 

I think that most so-called ‘data-driven campaigns’ today are basically just gimmicks. On the other hand, and more structurally speaking, advertisers are increasingly using data to create more contextualised, and thus more relevant campaign messages and content. For example, one of our customers in the alcoholic beverage sector adapts its campaigns based on meteorological data. 

 

When did Ekimetrics start integrating the creative aspect of data? 

We always have! Creativity is one of Ekimetrics’ core values! We encourage it in many ways e.g. through in-house innovation programmes, intensive training courses integrating creativity workshops, etc. This not only helps us keep one step ahead but also allows us to test new approaches. We have even set up a sponsorship initiative for young artists Eki.Art - another way of encouraging creativity within Ekimetrics.

 

What do you recommended to advertisers that are keen to develop creativity via data? 

It is important to bear in mind that creativity is not just an artistic process. It also influences our analytical approaches, as well as how we think, work and take decisions based on data. Alongside our customers, we work in a range of creative areas such as measuring the impact of brand muses on sales, optimising campaign content, and implementing innovative CRM approaches. Creativity can also be expressed in our customers’ ROI communities or in the way we collect the data. It is a key element of our philosophy and helps us resolve complex problems when we are unable to find a traditional response. https://youtu.be/99USH6G2734 

 

Can you give a few examples? 

We work with cosmetics and luxury brands to measure the impact of muses on short-term sales in stores, e-commerce and on their brands in the longer term. We help businesses draw up predictive strategies e.g. a leading car manufacturer needed help coming up with a more innovative customer strategy i.e. one that was more proactive in terms of proposing products. To do this, we overhauled its CRM approach and designed a cutting-edge predictive push marketing programme. This required taking a sophisticated data approach, combining external data (e.g. weather) and internal data such as sales history, postal addresses and locations of the nearest dealerships. But creativity is not only analytical. It also can be used to implement new decision-making methods e.g. enhancing intuition and beliefs with data: exploring scenarios to anticipate ROI. Another customer, a leading player in the insurance business, wanted to optimise its media investments. In order to create new links between online and offline departments, we designed KPIs based on a shared vocabulary and put in place more collaborative working methods. This is another area of creativity fuelled by data. 

 

How does this expertise fit into your range of data solutions? 

We have a four-pillar offer: data transformation, marketing optimisation (mainly marketing mix), operational excellence and data solutions. The last pillar comprises technological tools and solutions. It consists of creating data platforms, smart dashboards, media tools and web applications. These tools are important as they help generalise the use of data. Adjusting your KPIs on a daily basis, playing around with them, and being able to interpret them easily, helps companies understand the value of data and encourages new forms of creativity.

Our choice and vision was to develop (for each of these pillars) flexible profiles and processes that make it possible to systematically include data in creative and decision-making processes, rather than asking our customers to change their habits by adapting to the solution 

 

How does your team respond to these challenges?

We take a rather unusual approach: 90% of our staff are consultants but they are all Data Scientists, which is unique in the market. They are capable of modelling and grasping highly complex business issues. This results in no loss of information, less bias, sectoral knowledge injected into the models, etc. This USP allows us to conduct in-depth bespoke modelling thus bringing common sense and robustness to our strategic recommendations. The rest of our staff are either Data Engineers or Full Stack developers.

 

Where will ‘data-driven’ creativity be in five years? 

As with the arrival of market research and merging Copy writing-Creative teams in the 1950s and 60s, strategic planning will increasingly be combined with data practices. The error will be to think that data will replace all existing structures. We believe that the winners will be those who succeed in ensuring that highly intuitive practices go hand in hand with data-driven practices. However, the use of data must never be an end in itself. It must be seen as an accelerator, and as a fantastic facilitation tool for teams with business expertise.