The Data Framework
Market insight equals data. With this information coming across multiple channels, the first fundamental hurdle that companies have to resolve is setting up a consistent data framework. "One of the big dangers we have seen over the course of history ... is companies will create a brand new silo dedicated" to each new channel that emerges, Herman says.
But to really optimize creative, you need to avoid creating what he calls "multiple towers of Babel." Marketers need consistent recognition of customers and even prospects across channels.
From the creative professional's perspective, Feinstein agrees, noting that today's creative team needs to be able to translate data into a highly meaningful messaging platform that can spread across all channels. And that, he says, takes good analytics to pull out the insights.
For the time being, there's no lack of data available for marketers to plug into analytics software and spreadsheets. Of course, not all of it is going to be useful in every segmentation scheme or marketing challenge. But both Feinstein and Herman caution against bringing any preconceived notions to the analytics process. "The principle driver is you just never know what the predictive variable, or variables, is going to be. By instinct, never want to rule out any data," Herman explains. He takes it a step further, pointing out that a creative professional might see something in a list of descriptive elements for an audience that sparks the focus of the creative execution, and that idea might never have come to the statistician running the analytics process.
While the emphasis of most marketing challenges is on the predictive power of data, Herman adds that the efficacy of creative versioning comes down to the descriptive qualities of the data to build an accurate, meaningful picture for the creative group to capture. "That's the real balancing act," he states.