- Differences between how researchers and creatives or strategists approach research and data is preventing creative efforts from reaching their full potential, according to a new Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) report shared with Marketing Dive.
- Only 65% of creatives and strategists believe research and data are important for the creative process, while 84% of researchers found it to be key, the report revealed. Additionally, some marketing team members use the terms "data" and "insights" interchangeably while the term "copy testing" might mean a diagnostic tool to one person and a development tool or decision-making tool to a different person.
- This disconnect in shared understanding is causing a lack of trust, a division in insight ownership and a misalignment of goals. For example, 75% of researchers consider copy testing core to business, while only 44% of creatives consider it a key element. The report is a collaboration between ARF's Creative Council as well as Advertiser Perceptions and the 4A's. It includes feedback from 217 advertiser, agency and research members.
Data is playing a bigger role in marketing on a number of fronts, but this research suggests that a lack of common standards to how data and research are approached is making it difficult for people across marketing teams to communicate and work toward a shared vision for a brand. If creatives speak one language and researchers speak another, a brand's business goals can be thwarted or misaligned because of miscommunication and different interpretations.
"Despite the proliferation of data across industries, it's apparent that the use of research and data in the creative process is making creative teams feel disenfranchised," said Paul Donato, chief research officer at ARF, in a statement. "This disconnect results in tension between creatives, researchers, marketers and strategic planners, and it often means that researchers' efforts and creative quality are not reaching their full potential."
ARF's report is reflective of the challenges the marketing industry now faces around leveraging data. Advertisers and agencies have too much data and too little insight, according to a recent Forrester report that looked at the more than $12 billion agencies have invested in technology and databases since 2014 to meet CMOs' need for data-driven performance.
In 2017, a focus of some sessions and conversations at the Cannes Lions festival that celebrates creativity in marketing surrounded data's growing role. The major agency holding groups continue to struggle with integrating data as well, in part because creatives don't always welcome it. ARF's research shows how these tensions could mean that creative and strategic planners are not taking full advantage of research and data and not optimizing campaigns. Conversely, researchers who place all their weight behind research and data could be hindering the potential for a creative solution.
The ARF report suggests several best practices to overcome issues it uncovered. The recommendations include having teams implement a scrum framework, define research terms and share them across teams, as well as create an agreed-upon approach to testing and strategy that each team can follow.