Human creativity: is it threatened by the evolution of technology?

Creativity + Technology: A new report from Sublime and The Drum

Creativity takes many forms, yet as the technological revolution pushes forward, many fear the impact and subsequent effect of technology on human creativity. Over the last two decades, there have been substantial developments in tech leading some creatives to feel threatened by the prospect of competing with artificial intelligence. However, The Drum’s Creativity + Technology: The Formula to Inspire the Future report, produced in partnership with Sublime, questions our understanding of creativity and suggests that technology neither impairs nor aids creativity; it’s a tool that can enable creativity rather than threaten the human process.

Fear explained

But the fear of robots and machines taking over the creative industries is justified given the amount of campaigns that have proved AI’s ability to outsmart humans. In 2017, AI company DeepMind taught a computer to play the ancient Chinese game, Go, eventually shocking the world when it beat world champion Lee Sedol. The AlphaGo Zero campaign raised many questions about the future of AI, particularly over whether it would eventually replace human intelligence. “Technology is nothing without human input,” says Sublime’s head of publisher, Shez Iqbal. “It should be complementary rather than intrusive. It’s about utilizing the right tech to deliver creatively in the most optimized manner.”

Creating the impossible

Technology may not be able to match human creativity, but it can help to complement and inform the process. “Data is just a wooden stick,” says Omnicom’s managing partner, digital best practice and brand safety, Kiesse Lamour, in the report. “It is how you use that data that makes the whole difference, and it takes a creative mind for that.” Allowing humans to focus on the creative within a campaign’s process will only help to free up a creative’s time, especially if some of the more boring legwork can be easily assigned to a machine.

Data is still dull

Yet marketers are still exploiting data, much to the detriment of their consumers, intent instead on using tech for tech’s sake. The internet is unfortunately littered with irrelevant and often intrusive advertising and it’s only getting more crowded, observes the report. As customers are increasing their online power – they’re now able to block ads and withhold their personal data – marketers need to be more creatively savvy when they do access this private information.

Importance of context

Many marketers fail to consider the context within which their advertising sits. “As an industry, there’s some really poor examples of using data to target users; we’re at a place where buyers either over-complicate or under-simplify their use of data,” says Publicis Groupe’s head of precision, Adam Hancox. “It’s about looking at how to adapt creative work to the insights they have – the more they know about users, the more relevant it can be.” He cites an obsession with creating work for TV as one of the problems, insisting that creating digitally-suited work should be the priority.

The other problem is the format in which the ads appear, which is why Sublime offers bespoke and beautifully-designed content packages adapted for digital.

Target with care

To tackle the problem of incorrect online targeting, Sublime has also unveiled its new display ad technology, Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO). This software tailors and personalises ads according to viewer’s interests based on their data at the moment of ad serving. Not only does this mean ads are more relevant, but they’re often better optimized so there’s a much higher chance of getting customers to engage with them. Data can be useful, especially for the analysis of the creative as it tracks what’s worked and more importantly, what hasn’t, and marketers can learn from this for future, concludes the report.

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