Big Data, Big Creativity, Big Connections

One night, over a wonderful Sancerre, I spoke at length with a very successful A&R exec. “Is there a formula which could be applied to create the perfect song”, I pondered? He didn’t believe there was.  In art, there is no scientific method to create inspiration, if there was, every song writer would be as skilled as Lennon & McCartney.  Some companies have tried to ‘solve’ this challenge – MusicXray builds statistical models to predict success using variables such as pitch, rhythm and harmony, and compares a song’s characteristics with those of hits.  My A&R guy didn’t buy it, despite MusicXray claiming an 85% success rate.

After plying the A&R exec with more plonk he shared his secret with me. “Does it connect?” he asked. “The data can only tell you so much, but does it connect with the audience? Big hits are ones that connect with people on emotional, contextual and rational levels. They tell persuasive stories built upon the foundations of data - pitch, rhythm, harmony etc.” 

Connecting is what successful advertising and marketing is all about; using data to make connections with the right audience at the right time in the best possible environment.

The volume of data amassed today is astonishing, even alarming to some. Big data ostensibly knows all about everyone. And what this has resulted in is the deluge of countless and often pointless ad messages every day. Data enables advertisers to reach relevant audiences, but compelling stories are often missed. People need to be moved to action; data alone won’t suffice.  

Whilst data is essential for targeting but does little to persuade (the very lifeblood of advertising). Creativity will always be the most powerful tool that we will ever use but without compelling insights stories will fail to connect.

In our business, we love the moments when a curve, a trend, a percentage, a response generates an insight which can be crafted into a great story. When great creative minds take that insight, and go to work, they can build stories that truly connect.