INtelligent Direct: The AI Struggle is Real for Creative Professionals

It’s such a beautiful and complex time for data-driven marketing. In the martech space there is a push-pull argument for changing how creative is done because of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. I read an article recently on eMarketer that has many Creative Directors, including our own, pushing back.

“People actually believe AI will change their approach to creative work? The article says it is already being used to write stories and pop songs. Have you heard how bad music sounds lately? If AI will change your creative, then you’re not creative.”
– Scott Kennedy, Creative Director for Infinity Direct

According to a survey referenced in the eMarketer article, 85% of creative professionals in design, art, film, video, music and advertising believe that AI will have a significant impact on their creative output in the next two years.

So herein lies the question: if you know that a certain type of visual or audio component for a campaign elicits the most engagement and responses from your targeted audience using behavioral data you already have, are you putting yourself at a disadvantage by not using that information?

I understand both sides of the equation. But I feel that a distinction that is not being made in this article is that creative and design are not one and the same.

Creative is drawn from intuition, human expression and emotion—it’s art. And as branding agencies know, you generally wouldn’t use data science or machine learning to drive the design of your logo, determine how memorable the logo is and gauge the emotional response humans get when they see that logo. Emotional responses are things that machines cannot learn in a human way (or at least not for a very long time).

Design involves laying out information and images in a particular format to be visually appealing and elicit a response. The response can be to a call to action (CTA), whether it be on a print piece, web page or display banner ad. How things are designed absolutely can, and should, take advantage of any behavioral data you have.

For instance, imagine that you know—because of their web, email click and direct mail response behaviors—that the majority of your target audience, persona, segment or bucket likes kittens and bluegrass music featuring banjos. You may respond by including an image of a kitten playing a banjo in future communication designs. This is data-driven design. It’s design that is created to get a human to respond and is data science at the most basic level. The next level is machine learning to predict future behavior based on past behaviors.

When it comes to user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX), we absolutely should use machine learning to create journeys that allow the most humans to have a positive experience with your brand or path to purchase. These journeys are being successfully realized by companies like the Wall Street Journal with their content pay walls, financial investment firms with investment opportunities and online retailers like Amazon with their “next likely purchase” models.

But you can’t design the optimal UX and CX if you don’t know what it is you’re trying to accomplish. What is your goal? Have you defined it? Do you know if data science and machine learning could help you reach your goal?

I’m very excited to announce that Infinity Direct has formed a strategic business partnership with Sprocket CX, a data-loving customer experience strategy firm. We will be hosting a free webinar in September titled, “Five Guiding Principles: How to Design Impactful Experiences and Services Using Data Science.” You will leave the webinar with invaluable nuggets of knowledge and inspiration to help you spearhead your future marketing initiatives.

In this webinar, Infinity Direct, partnering with Sprocket, will introduce you to five important principles that will help you reframe the way you think about using data science for creating better customer experiences. We’ll focus on a business scenario for a hypothetical Twin Cities microbrewery, and you will leave with a concrete understanding of the creative applications of data science, a framework you can apply in your own business and a smile on your face.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to begin with humans and their needs
  • How to make the customer journey the most personal, easy,
    and enjoyable
  • How to prevent leaving any customer value on the table
  • What you can do to apply data science right now to solve your complex business questions


Jenny Lassi • August 14, 2018

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