As technology advances and the science of data improves, we’re starting to get more innovative with how data is used and how it informs the creative process. Using analytics to understand (and predict) consumer behavior and to maximize return on investment isn’t a new idea. The internet is full of articles listing the benefits of using data to create marketing strategies. Why? Because it works, making the process more cost-effective and inspiring genuine engagement.
At UPBrand Collaborative, we recently used data to deliver a creative campaign for a really fun client, Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Using research, we were able to identify what their target audience really wanted. We used that to create a strategy that would inspire a new generation of opera-goers. But strategy is only part of a successful campaign. Without powerful, effective creative, a campaign isn’t a campaign.
Where data is about creating lanes of focus based in fact, creativity is seen as expansive, conceptual or based in gut-feeling. On the surface, data science and creativity seem to be at odds. A constrictive force and an expansive force can’t coexist, right? Well, history might tell a different story.
At the age of 18, I inherited a record collection. Alongside a warped Joan Baez and a vinyl of “sound effects,” was one particular record that seemed out of place. It was classical music, a set of trios composed by Joseph Haydn for an instrument called the baryton. I’ll admit it took me a few years to find out what a baryton is, or to even listen to the record.
The baryton was very popular at the time the trios were composed. This was a time when many classical composers worked for benefactors, at whose whims the artists succeeded or failed. Haydn’s benefactor, Prince Nikolaus, had a particular interest in learning to play the baryton, hence the trios. Haydn had no particular interest in the instrument, but the resulting work was staggeringly good and is considered some of the best ever written for the baryton. Within clearly delineated boundaries, Haydn’s creativity wasn’t stymied, it shined—and it was just right for his audience.
In the same way a benefactor’s influence guided creativity in the past, we can use data to create a framework for our creativity to build on. Data tells us what our audience wants; it tells us which instrument to use. From there, we’re free to compose. For Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the results were clear. The data-driven campaign created over 3.6 million impressions and more than doubled average click-through rate. Our data and creative worked together to create real world value and facilitate genuine experiences. For us, success is about harmony. To see more about how we’re using data to create strategically sound creative, check out some of our case studies.