Art + Science = Creative Advertising

July 8, 2016

Question: Is creative advertising an art or a science?

Answer: Yes.

But wait, you’re thinking, there was an “or” in that question, so to what is the “yes” responding? In truth, it’s responding to both, because our view on creative advertising is that it is both an art and a science.

The science of advertising

In the days of old, marketers had no way to assess the effectiveness of their campaigns. In those days, John Wanamaker’s complaint—“Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”—was spot on.

But we are living in the age of analytics, so we can now determine through multiple means where best to allocate advertising dollars. Tracking clicks, the time a user spends on a site and UX all provide important information. In addition, A/B testing allows us to identify and adjust for which design and message works best.

And demographic data about who buys your product or service can be coupled with third-party data to identify other individuals who may be receptive. Finally, machine learning algorithms, such as topic modeling and sentiment analysis, can evaluate and aggregate what people are saying and how they feel about you.

The art of advertising

All of the above provide quantitative measures of how people perceive your brand and its products or services. But never before has it been more true that what can be measured is not always important and, especially with creative advertising, what’s important can’t always be measured.

You cannot, for example, measure the emotional impact of creative advertising. By emotional impact we mean, say, the number of people who laugh at a funny ad or who are moved to tears by a poignant one. And it is in this space that memorable, viral ads function. It takes great creative—the art side of advertising.

Data will not help you create an ad that moves people to tears. It will, however, tell you how to find the people likely to be moved to tears. So creative advertising is not an either/or proposition. It is, indeed, both an art and a science.