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Left-Brain/Right-Brain: 3 Ways Marketers are Rethinking Data & Creativity

Data is widely regarded as the linchpin of digital campaign management, but it’s also increasingly being used by advertisers to make better informed decisions with their creative. Although the shift isn’t new, its adoption with brand marketers has significantly accelerated as a result of Covid-19.

Using data to fuel creative, however, isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. Operating in the new marketing normal means companies must first bring their analytic and creative employees together before executing any ad campaigns.

“What’s needed from the overall team is hyper-left brain and hyper-right brain thinking,” says Susan Vobejda, chief marketing officer at The Trade Desk. “It means a championship team of specialists. People playing positions and then working together to accomplish and maximize impact in the marketplace in connection with the consumer.”

Vobejda shared her comments during The Trade Desk’s Groundswell Digital Marketing Festival. She was joined by Angela Zepeda, Chief Marketing Officer at Hyundai Motors North America; Bonin Bough, Chief Growth Officer at Triller; Chad Stubbs, Senior Vice President of Moët Hennessy and Jenny Rooney of Forbes CMO Network, who moderated the panel.

Here, we share three takeaways on how brands are using data to play a more central role in how they create and execute campaigns.

‘Expand yourself’

Brands leveraging data to better inform their ad campaigns must bring two very different teams — analytic thinkers and creatives — together to achieve creative innovation. Doing so, however, often means employees must improve collaboration and learn new skills to meet these demands.

Hyundai’s Angela Zepeda, for instance, says the brand hired numerous data scientists prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but understanding the data is key. “We’ve grown with so much data at our fingertips, the challenge really became about interpreting that data and being able to use it,” Zepeda said. “Without that interpretation that gets you to move forward, it’s just a bunch of reporting.”

Zepeda emphasized that all employees in an organization need to understand the importance of data. “If you don't have data science or analytical skills as part of your core, then you need to expand yourself, so you understand it and then get on board with whatever everyone else has seen.”

Emphasizing Values

Covid-19 has made many brands take a second look at their values and how they inform creative messaging more dynamically. Purpose and values are now playing a critical role in how companies present themselves to consumers, Susan Vobejda said.

“People are going through a lot emotionally and brands need to really understand that,” she said. “The emotional intelligence of brands needs to heighten to speak into a new world for consumers in an insightful way.”

Vobejda added that The Trade Desk moved up its launch for its popular new digital marketing education platform, The Edge Academy , and also made it free to help people who were in transition between jobs or wanted to learn new skills. While helping the industry adapt to new data-driven demands, this move was rooted just as much in the company’s desire to help professionals transition and build skills at an urgent time of need.

Virtual earns its place

The sudden transition from live events to digital events in a post Covid-19 world opens up the possibility of large-scale online engagement, according to the panelists.

“There will never be another conference that will not have a virtual conference element that is robust,” Triller’s Bonin Bough argues. “The level of engagement we’re seeing is really robust — we’ve never seen these kinds of numbers.”

Bough points to how Triller, a popular social app, which exists as an entertainment platform for creative people, hosted a virtual concert featuring popular artists such as Lil Wayne shortly after Coachella was canceled. Triller’s event, which was put together over a four-week span, attracted more than 5 million concurrent viewers at its peak, according to Bough.

“We learned from that virtual festival and built a product so that artists could then use that product to create ticketable virtual events,” he added.

Watch the full keynote session here.