Moneyball applied to advertising is…. | M&M Global

Moneyball applied to advertising is….

Data is a liberator and an agent of change, writes Owen Wyatt, UK sales director at CNN International.

Owen Wyatt

The debate about how data and creativity is applied in advertising has moved well beyond the hackneyed ‘either/or’ arguments.

It’s not a case of whether we make these two areas work together, but how. The panel that CNN ran at Advertising Week Europe last week made that point and also took us down unexpected discussion areas such as how culture, structure and commitment to diversity can play a part in shifting a mindset so that two become one.

I introduced the session with some examples of journalism that wouldn’t have been created if we hadn’t used data to analyse audience trends and desires to develop new editorial products. I also inflicted on the audience my love of baseball – more specifically my love of one of the great sporting stories of our time that we in the ad business should all take inspiration from: the 2002 season of Oakland Athletics.

Brought to the big screen in the film Moneyball, the story celebrates the creative flair of coach Billy Beane and the unerring commitment to statistical efficiency of scout Peter Brand (Paul DePodesta in real life) that propelled one of the smallest teams in baseball onto a record-breaking run of winning 20 consecutive games.

I’m not the only one who has drawn direct inspiration from the story’s premise and how that can be applied to business. However, I believe the winning combination of Beane and Brand is directly relevant to today’s ad industry.

Ever-increasing data points

In 2016, we have ever-increasing data points and metrics to predict, inform and evaluate the content we create, the campaigns we deliver. In parallel, we have demand from clients and consumers for that content to be more creative as part of an engaging experience that adds value to the consumer experience – not make them change the channel, close a browser or install an ad blocker.

There is a huge opportunity now for us to use insight gleaned from the reams of data to optimise our creative work, make the brilliant idea even more effective, respect our consumers by enhancing their experience, and give our clients a meaningful assessment of how their campaign has performed – well beyond the click-through rate.

“In the age of transparency and accountability – data and creativity is a solid marriage not a short-lived affair”

The panellists who took part in the Ad Week Europe discussion made these points too. John Travis from Adobe talked about how data empowers him to take more risks, OMD’s Ann Wixley described the “tug of war” using data and creativity to bring an idea to life, and my colleague Rob Bradley pointed out how a fluid and constantly moving data strategy can be creative in its own right.

If you didn’t see the discussion live, I highly recommend you watch it here.

Personally, I am inspired by the fact that data can help us to challenge the norm – in advertising and much more. For anyone who has sat in a meeting and been told “this is the way we’ve always done things”, data is a liberator and an agent of change.

Of course, we can’t be slaves to the algorithm; we need to use insight to inform creativity, but in the age of transparency and accountability – data and creativity is a solid marriage not a short-lived affair.

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