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In her recent piece, Charli Ursell, Senior Director of Digital of PHD UAE talks about data and creativity in media. 

Data kills creativity. How many times have we heard this statement, or indeed, debated back and forth as to its merit?
Data and technology buzzwords have been creeping into agency language more and more over the past few years. Years spent honing the art of putting science behind planning principles have had something of a transformative effect on an industry that was initially built on storytelling. However, there is a growing fear that somewhere along this journey, tech-based thinking and algorithmic optimization have distracted us from seeking meaningful human interactions – stalling the creative process. With this in mind, is it time for us to take a long hard look in the mirror?

The first thing to consider is data and content as opposing forces. The power of narrative is undeniable, but if we consider that data is essentially a repository of stored facts and our brains are the most powerful computer on the planet, we can argue that data has always had an influence on the stories that we tell. Although our brain can process this data with ease, technology is still evolving and learning to interpret data in the same way to deliver stronger stories. The more powerful the technology, the better this process will get, and it is only by seamlessly merging creativity and science that we can we truly create meaningful, tailored content that will speak truthfully to audiences.

Mike Cooper recently highlighted at Cannes that finely tuned data and tech are certainly a part of optimizing campaign performance, however, the real transformational drivers of ROI are creativity and innovation. The key is to find a way of using data as the platform to successfully unlock this potential.

To create powerful and human content by permeating data with emotion, or that ‘gut-feeling’, we can turn it into something much more. If we were able to improve our data interpretation and use it to trigger these gut emotions, we could move forward to telling data-informed stories, rather than data-driven ones. Fluently reading data will allow us to draw out meaningful insights and combine them with human emotional input, to create the kind of substance required for high-quality content. Keep in mind that the science behind creating good content is harnessing relevant data in such a way that it provides the best possible springboard for ideation.

Think, for instance, how content giants such as the BBC have turned to partners like Parrot Analytics to gather data about what people want to see next. By being informed in this way, they can create relevant and meaningful content in response. We can’t rely on a single content team’s judgment on what may or may not resonate with audiences in the right way; it’s both unrealistic and unfair to levy this much responsibility on any given group.

Read the full story on the PHD MENA blog. 

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