The new performance creative: Where emotion, data and technology converge

Columnist Scott Rayden says marketers who want to stay ahead of the curve need to successfully integrate data and technology with creative that connects with consumers.



Creative over the years has ranged from being driven by pure emotion to being driven by pure data. Both are equally important, and the convergence of the two is what is steering today’s most effective creative. As for tomorrow’s best creative, one of the biggest shifts we are seeing now is how technology is impacting the output.

Successful brands and agencies of the future will be able to connect creative with emotion, data and technology to connect, engage and make a meaningful and emotional connection.

This post will examine the role that each of the three plays in performance/acquisition-focused marketing.

To convert, you must first connect

Let’s first examine the role of emotion with creative and how it plays an important role in getting a customer to convert. I’m a firm believer that some of the best creative comes from the heart and not always from data.

One of my favorite examples of a brand that understands how to design to create an emotional connection is Nike. Most of Nike’s creative is focused around elite athletes and the athletic experience, not the company’s products. Here’s an example:


Another great example of creative being driven by emotion: the banner ads that we started seeing in the early 2000s that basically looked like games. Definitely an opposite example from Nike, but it was a very clever and effective way to tap into someone’s playful state. Here’s one you might remember:


These wildly different approaches can have equally good results in getting the consumer to engage and convert. Nike’s approach, in my eyes, focuses more on bringing people into its ecosystem by connecting them to athletes and a culture.

The second example is a more direct engagement/conversion approach, but it worked like a charm by getting people to engage in the ad and take a more direct conversion path.

Truth (and performance) in numbers

Next let’s examine data. Today’s marketers have access to more data than ever before, and that accessibility has changed the way creative behaves within a marketing organization.

Audience data, usability data and engagement data are great examples of what creatives today leverage to design a more meaningful connection with a consumer that will drive long-term revenue for the brand.

One big shift that this data has brought is allowing creatives to focus not just on a campaign or an ad, but on the entire customer journey and experience.

To take it one step further, the best creative marketers use data to design a unique customer journey and experience for each individual, making each user’s experience unique and personalized.

Creative driven by data allows brands to establish a personalized connection and give consumers what they want when they want it. And it works on me, just like it works on any other consumer.

As CMO of 3Q Digital, I’m always supportive of solutions to help my team become more effective… so this ad was right on target:


So far, we’ve painted a decent picture of what’s possible with performance creative. But the third factor is helping to set the bar even higher.

Technical beauty

Two kinds of technology are increasingly being layered onto good emotional, data-driven creative concepts to drive even greater performance.

The first kind, which includes testing platforms like Adobe’s Test & Target and Optimizely, takes good concepts and helps them evolve into iterative successes. Creatives in the space no longer can focus on a single one-and-done piece of creative.

Testing platforms have helped ad creatives evolve into living, breathing, always-evolving assets. The best creative marketers going forward need to stop thinking about the one perfect message and focus on creating assets that can be constantly tweaked to increase engagement.

The second technology that is changing the way creative functions in the marketing world is DMPs (data management platforms). Creative can now take hundreds and thousands of different forms depending on who is viewing it, when they are viewing it, on what device they view it and with what intent.

DMPs play a role in personalization and helping brands create unique real-time experiences that ultimately drive a one-to-one relationship between the brand and consumer.

The best marketing creatives today think differently. They are a mix of Michelangelo, Albert Einstein and Philippe Kahn. They understand the need to integrate data and technology into their desire to create beautiful assets that drive an emotional engagement between brand and consumer.

As a marketer, I see this as one of the most exciting shifts happening in our space today. As a consumer, I’m seeing a more personalized experience designed for my likes, interests and desires.

So where does that leave you as a company? If you haven’t yet invested in tools and talent to pull all three of these levers, I suggest you start the hunt ASAP.

If you have invested, and you’re still trying to establish the right weight and synchronicity of the three, you’re ahead of the curve now — but you’ll have to continue to invest in each to stay there.



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