Most creatives aren't excited about data. But I actually think that 'true data' is going to set us free.
Right now, because data-gathering on advertising effectiveness is in its infancy, we are living in an age of seriously shoddy data.
We are measuring things like 'recall', which may or may not translate into sales. We are measuring things like 'persuasiveness'... which we can only measure after we've deliberately exposed someone to an ad, so we have no way of knowing if the consumer would have looked at the ad if we hadn't asked them to.
Which is why so many of the ads that pass research are 'saying all the right things' but don't actually work in the marketplace, where they are competing against (in the case of TV) seven other ads in the break, a toilet, a smartphone in the viewer's pocket, the conversation of someone else in the room, and the chance to make a cup of tea.
I am hugely encouraged by the data being generated from YouTube's relatively new 'skippable ad' feature.
The average skip rate for YouTube ads is greater than 80%. Source.
But an insider tells me that within that 80%, there's a huge variation. The most popular ads are skipped only 10% of the time. While the least popular are skipped 90% of the time. In other words, some ads are NINE TIMES as engaging as others.
This just confirms what we creatives have known in our bones, since time began.
That creativity works.
In the future, technology and data will be able to tell us exactly who saw a marketing message (in whatever medium) and then, from their subsequent purchasing behaviour, whether that ad was effective.
When this happens, creativity will finally triumph.
All the advertisers who thought that it was enough to simply say whatever they wanted to say, and gave insufficient thought to engagement, will be shown empirically to be wrong.
And on that day, I propose we hold a massive party.