Creativity in permanent beta

Building the wings whilst flying the plane

This phrase is often used to describe the process of developing a campaign whilst actually midway through its roll-out.  It’s a derogatory term sometimes said behind agency doors to describe the meddling of the less focused client who constantly changes the brief to reflect the latest insight or market research.

However, perhaps there is method in the madness.

In a data-driven marketing world, there is a need to constantly revise and refine the campaign to reflect the changing needs of the target audience.  A/B testing is a simple example of this approach.  By pushing out several iterations (often variations on a core theme), the best performing ads can be identified and the marketing inventory accordingly modified to yield better results, whether that be message recall or Call To Action (or a mixture of both).

Central to this approach in a market where clients do not want to spend the associated budget of creating, for example, 5 broadcast production-ready TV ads, is agility.  In short, agencies need to create variations on a theme in a quick and cost-effective manner without compromising on production values.

Whilst the campaign must be well crafted, it is subject to change and is constantly being finessed based on “real” customer feedback. A campaign crafted with real world experience.  Or, put another way, creativity in permanent beta.

The upside?  For the client and the agency, there is concrete evidence to justify the creative direction.  For the customer, only by constantly listening to the data that is produced by their engagement with the campaign can we develop truly customer-centric advertising.