Creativity in crisis; maximising output requires tools on top of talent

In his recent speech at the ISBA conference, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G, stated it’s time to see agencies focus much more of their resources on creative output.

According to Pritchard, it comes down to a numbers game. "Creatives represent less than half of agency resources, because they’re surrounded by excess management, buildings and overhead." In his view, the proportion of resources allocated to creative output should be “more like three quarters.”

In response, Martin Sorrell has spoken about reforming team structures to be less bureaucratic, much less layered, much more creatively-driven. There are significant implications on the workforce of agencies in the future.

However, this might be a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The shared opinion among agencies themselves is that there’s plenty of creative talent in the industry today. It’s simply not being harnessed correctly.

One of the ways to achieve that is tapping into better technology solutions. Where toolsets for managing audiences, budgets and engagements are among the fastest maturing, agencies aren’t using creative tools to their advantage as much as they could be – yet. New technology presents the opportunity to optimize creative talent, improve cross-team processes, and streamline client approvals.

Video everywhere

A staggering 85% of marketers will invest more in mobile video marketing in 2018. While this is good news for consumers, who tend to interact more frequently with video content, this is a challenge for creative teams as it requires significantly more time and investment to produce a video ad than a display ad.

Consider first the formatting challenges. YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat all have different video formats and ways of viewing content. Where consumers watch YouTube in much the same way as TV, Facebook videos are often watched without sound. And Snapchat has introduced the vertical format, leaving many creatives scrambling to crop landscape footage.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that campaigns are also now increasingly visible to global audiences. This presents new hurdles around localisation and dynamic iteration. Keeping track of video assets across multiple platforms without a single place to find them is a hassle. With teams from across the world accessing and editing content, the approvals process becomes ungainly and inhibitive. Technology can help solve these workflow and process challenges, and can automate video formats across all the platforms without having to manually crop and edit, leaving creative teams more time to focus on creating compelling video content.

Insights everywhere

Great ad creative can only come from great ad insights. Determining what celebrity to feature or what cause to support have historically required lots of time and people across focus groups and other forms of primary research. Today’s technology can surface key audience insights in real-time using the limitless focus group of social media.

Once the creative is put into market, technology can also help improve the process of performance reporting and benchmarking – ie figuring out what messaging is working best. Working across a dozen media properties means reporting a dozen different engagement measurements and the inability to benchmark or draw comparisons. Ultimately, this leaves creatives in the dark on which creative works best in which platforms, meaning they aren’t able to continuously improve campaign effectiveness and deliver better results for clients.

New technologies can offer the means to contextualise views and provide simple, standardised reporting comparisons. By combining data sets across TV and social media, new metrics emerge to truly evaluate ad stickiness, brand engagement, and consumer loyalty. And this can be done at the individual creative level in real-time for brands and their competitors.

Ultimately, the end goal is greater creative output and greater results. You can’t achieve this by just throwing more people at the problem. These rewards are far more dependent on creative-centric and technology-enabled solutions that enable seamless iteration and measurement of creative work to maximise returns for advertisers.

Aaron Goldman is CMO at 4C Insights

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