There’s a review up on the Web Analytics Association’s website on modeling the determinants of creativity in advertising. I think Smith and MacKenzie et al did a good job on the paper.

The term ‘creative’ is completely loaded. After all, isn’t it all subjective?

In our defense, even as web analysts, we often try to quantify the subjective all the time. The feeling thermometer and the probability map are two ways that we’ve tried to quantify feelings and prospection. Even the concept of satisfaction, when operationalized through a survey methodology, is subjective.

Just because a concept is subjective doesn’t mean that we throw up our hands and walk away. Rather, we should be always trying to improve how we ask and derive methods for linking perception with observed behavior. The denial (or ignorance) of this link between reported and observed behavior continues to generally plague the #measure community. (There’s a bully in the community that I won’t call out. Yet.)

The impact of creative on conversion is typically only spoken about in the context of an A/B test, and very frequently, only within a kind of spitting criticism. The oft-verbalized criticism of Google and their “testing of 140 shades of blue” methodology is one example.

Isn’t creative more than just the color of a button or text though?

I think so. And so do Smith and MacKenzie. They break creativity out into ‘divergence’ and ‘relevance’.

Let’s tackle ‘divergence’ first.

Divergence means ‘standing out’. What makes an ad stand out from the clutter?

I’d argue that it’s the same thing that causes a punchline of a joke to be funny. Something unexpected. It’s something that is at least two, maybe three standard deviations from the mean. Something that stands out from the crowd is spiky in nature. I’d argue that making something spiky is a creative process.

Relevance means ‘of interest to me at this point in time’. It’s another way of saying “right message to the right customer at the right time”. We might well have successful delivery of said message, but if there’s no divergence, that message will totally get lost in the clutter.

I’m arguing that there’s an opportunity here to use web analytics as a force for good in the creative world. It wouldn’t be a pursuit of sucking the ‘fun’ and ‘creative license’ out of the creative process. Quite to the contrary.

Rather, maybe we could incorporate creativity into our predictive and explanatory models – or at least consider and properly value proper creative.

4 thoughts on “Creativity and Web Analytics

  1. May I also point your readers to a past post of mine?

    Measurment doesn’t have to be, and never was infact, against creativity.

  2. Jim Novo says:

    “Creativity was very strongly correlated with attention to the ad, but not to purchase intent”.

    And therein lies the rub. There is this whole assu,tion that awareness for the sake of it is good. Awareness, recall, all of that stuff is fine when you don’t have anything else, but today, both offline and online, there’s no reason to stop there.

    Folks, we have computers now.

    As to creativity itself, nothing makes me more angry than hearing “analytics stifle creativity”.

    Analytics make it more difficult to act naively, to pull things out of your butt that lack rigor.

    How does this supress creativity? Because the stupidest idea no longer gets a shot? Because awareness is not enough? Because shooting gerbils out of cannons doesn’t drive sales?

    If anything, you need to be more creative when the analytics are watching.

  3. @jacqueswarren You May! (And valid points in your post!)

    @jimnovo I agree. Furthermore: we’re in an attention economy. There’s not enough human attention to go ’round (otherwise such attention would be ‘free’ – right?). There’s a role here to quantify creativity and use it marketers advantage.

    As you well know Jim, this is more of a cultural issue than it is a technological issue.

  4. This is an interesting post, and similar in theme to one I wrote myself the other day: is web analytics an art or a science?. It’s time that the creative, artistic, subjective, intuitive etc were more recognised, celebrated and cultivated in web analytics.

    Jonny Longden
    My Web Analytics Blog

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