By Kedar Teny
When Roger Sperry tabled his Split-brain Research for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1981, he probably had no idea how an entire industry was being built around exercising just one side of the brain. Yes, with just half the brain deployed. Welcome to the advertising business! A $8 billion industry in India alone that has survived creative messaging without needing the use of the left brain.
But something is about to change or has changed already.
The tech edge
According to a 2016 report from IBM Marketing Cloud on Key Marketing Trends For 2017, 90% of the data in the world at that point had been created in the previous two years alone. With new devices, sensors, wearables, IoT and other emerging technologies, data generation is happening at a pace beyond imagination. And it is all behavioural data.
The advent of internet 2.0 has made the world an even smaller place. And this has happened at such an unimaginable pace that we didn’t even realise when the simple act of dialling a number became a video call or when the phone became a retail outlet, or how conveniently it became a portable television, a memory keeper, kid pacifier, a bank or, for that matter, even a wallet.
Now how does all of the above roll back to messaging in advertising?
Well, there has been big progress on the media planning side of the business. Adoption of technology through partnerships with tech giants such as Google, Facebook and the likes, has improved accuracy of targetting right down to the pin code. Mass personalisation is a ‘now and here’ reality.
But on the creative side of the advertising business? From the first ad that made its appearance, up until the last YouTube pre-roll you watched a minute ago and every ad in between, each has probably used just half the brain.
It isn’t that folks from the creative side of the advertising and marketing world put a great wall around the left brain that needs to be protected from aliens. But it has stayed unexploited for two reasons: firstly, for long, this business has believed that marketing is more art than science; and secondly, it has not had access to real-time behavioural data the way it is available today. To be fair though, it is this absence that has forced it to be more art than science. Yes, the endeavour to add science has always been a part of the continuous improvement process, but the last mile is dominated by right-brained thinking; and hence, even today, you will see the best practitioners huddled together, brainstorming scripts, visuals and headlines. Conversations with oodles of anecdotes, personal beliefs, word play, visuals, emotions, etc.
Nothing wrong with that. In fact, these conversations are critical in creative enterprises. But with tons of behavioural data, dark data, etc, available on tap, it would be reckless not to recognise its power to pivot this business. If the media business has improved the accuracy of targetting, the creative business could well benefit by using left-brained thinking to merge with the right to generate more accurate and more personalised
creatives than ever before.
I believe that the creative agency of the future will be one which will deploy left-brained practitioners armed with data, analytics, AI, machine learning and cognitive tech tools, combined with right-brained practitioners, to arrive at marketing decisions, targetting, creatives and conversion optimisation. This will have to become the norm and not a differentiator.
(The author is chief strategy officer, Tilt Brand Solutions)