Creativity Wins Out Over Big Data

New research from ADMA challenges the belief that mass data and non-creative Direct Marketing are the most effective methods of achieving long-term brand success.

Admittedly, creativity can’t match response-based activity in delivering quick results, but it is vital in long-term brand success, according to new research that challenges today’s obsession with data-based marketing.

Peter Field, a marketing and advertising consultant put the case forward for creativity during a webinar hosted by the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA).

His comments were in turn based on the findings of ADMA’s first annual The Link Between Creativity and Effectiveness research, which analysed 234 campaigns in the 2012 ADMA Awards.

Field challenged the focus on data and short-term metrics for campaign effectiveness, claiming those that only focus on quick response-based activity and big data will sacrifice long-term, generators of growth for their businesses.

“It’s not just a question of surrendering creativity to data, it’s the danger that if you just measure in the short term, which is what big data makes you do, it turns you off all the things driving success in the long term,” Field claimed.

“There is a real tension emerging in marketing around the desire to have short-term results that you can see, measure and show to management. This is being driven by the data revolution – big data keeps telling us we can create astonishing results right now. But instinctively we know great brands don’t happen overnight, they take time”

One of the metrics used to gauge effectiveness in the new ADMA research is the campaign evaluation period. Nearly three-quarters of submissions were based on a timeframe of less than six months, representing a very different picture to those with a longer lifespan, Field said. He also claimed short-term response and Web / Social media success does not reliably indicate longer-term business success.
Effectiveness is based on value, volume, share and profit growth, price sensitivity reduction, new customer acquisition and customer retention.

While there was no distinguishable business or behavioural effect from creative Direct Marketing campaigns in the short-term, the research found creativity outperformed non-creative Direct Marketing campaigns for intermediate effect, and was fundamental for driving long-term results.

Field said creativity needed more time to mature and prove its effectiveness, regardless of industry sector.

“The great benefit of creativity is it drives this ‘buzz’ around your business. For Example, creative Direct Mail pieces are more likely to be shared, passed on and talked about. That is very strong in terms of effectiveness over slightly longer periods of time.”

Other findings from the ADMA report

  • Short-term response and Web / Social media traffic do not reliably indicate longer-term business success.
  • Customer acquisition campaigns are much more effective at driving growth than loyalty campaigns.
  • Building new customer relationships is better than trying to deepen existing ones, objectives and metrics for growth should focus on non-customers rather than on customer commitment.
  • Traditional Direct Mail strongly outperforms email marketing: The latter may be cheaper but it is associated with reduced campaign effectiveness.

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