Measurefest is happening as you read this. It’s a gathering of digital marketers, where we can talk about the latest developments in measurement and analysis. The agenda will be packed with cool techniques for identifying, segmenting and reporting on the digital behaviours of customers and prospects.

The insight and intelligence we get from user data can make our marketing decisions better, our campaigns more effective and our budgets go further.

But is marketing’s new-found love of dataLayers, propensity modelling, tagging and k-means analysis making us less creative?

This was the topic of debate over a bacon sandwich this morning.

Here’s the blow-for-blow recap:

The Creative’s View

Data makes us clonable

If three competing businesses are making its marketing decisions from data on the same users, the chances of them coming to the same conclusion increase. For example, if the audience research shows that Customer Segment A is more likely to engage with product news promoted on Twitter, when the tweet contains a short video clip. You can be sure that all three businesses will decide to run some video ads on Twitter targeting their users with product information.

We get lost in similar messages

The use of data to make decisions, as described above, results in vanilla marketing; every competitors’ messages end up looking the same. No one stands out.

Numbers restrict ideas

Data constrains innovation and ideas. To help explain what I mean, I’m going to teach you about the honey bee, and its behaviour when collecting the pollen it needs.

When a honey bee finds a source of food, they return to the hive and share its location through the medium of dance – The Waggle Dance!

This waggle dance helps the rest of the hive accurately locate the source of food. The marketing version is an audience report showing that all our potential customers are using channel X.

But not all bees follow the waggle. They innovate, choosing to look for new, different sources of food. For the bees, this is a survival mechanism. If all the bees relied on the data provided by the waggle dance, they’d optimise and rely on it. But what would happen if the food source ran out? They’d have no idea where the next meal was coming from.

The same is true with marketers. If data tells us to use channel X, and all we do is geared toward that channel, what happens when our customers stop using it? We’ll be doomed! Like the innovative bees, we need to constantly be looking for new ways to reach and engage our customers.

The Analyst’s View

Data lets us understand our customers’ needs and wants

There’s a reason 90% of marketing never gets seen by its intended audience – marketers create content that our users just don’t need or care about.

Data provides us with a clear signal as to what channels, mediums, tactics and topics resonate with our audience.

Data lets us be personal

With data, tagging and real-time-bidding, we can create marketing campaigns that are segmented for audiences of one. Think about it, the Amazon homepage is unique for everyone that visits it. This genius move would not be possible without a huge about of data powering it.

Data lets us be present when it counts

CRM data, cookie data and propensity modelling enables marketers to accurately predict the information a user needs before they even know it.

A famous example here is how Target used digital signals and purchase history to figure out a teen in the US was pregnant before her family did.

Without that data, there’s no way the brand would be able to build this kind of proactive relationship with the customer (and her family).

The RocketMill View

As I’m sure you spotted, the key to successful marketing is balancing the two. Data and Creativity go hand in hand.

I believe that a truly awesome campaign has the following traits from a customer’s point of view:

  • Perfect timing (data driven)
  • A clever, unique message (creative)
  • A relevant call to action (data driven)

Where do you sit in the Data vs Creativity debate? Get involved @rocketmill #datavscreative