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A New Golden Age for Creative?

By Andrew Zimmer

Why We Could Actually Be Entering a New Golden Age for Creative

For the last decade, performance marketing has reigned supreme, becoming the primary focus for most brands. It was all about data, numbers, and tracking the customer's journey, with the lion's share of the budget being allocated to performance-driven channels.  

Now is the Time for Creative to Reclaim Center Stage in Marketing 

Brands were caught up in a race to optimize their digital footprint. The result on creative was that it often took a back seat and that, especially across social channels, the ideas flattened - all iterating their way to the same style that “worked” on platform. 

The Balance between Creativity and Performance 

However, now is the time that the pendulum should start swinging back, and creativity is re-emerging as the crucial factor in successful marketing. The catalyst for this shift is primarily due to the impact of changes in data privacy regulations, such as Apple's iOS 14 update and Google's impending removal of cookies in 2024 and the emergence of AI. The privacy changes have put a significant dent in the performance marketer's ability to target and retarget audiences effectively. As a result, brands are now compelled to devise ways to connect and engage with audiences creatively, making creative strategies increasingly vital.  

And at least for the immediate future, AI generated images and text will often have the same flattening effect on creative. While a skilled creative trained in AI will be able to pour gas on their creative fires, it’s much more likely that content farms and scale marketing operations use the tools in the short term to mass produce content. So, while there will be outliers that are AI-assisted, the impending mass production of content will place a premium on the truly creative ideas.  

A world where creativity has no limits. Generated with Midjourney.

AI: A New Frontier for Creativity and Performance 

While it’s hard to have definitive answers about how the AI influx will play out as we navigate this shift, it's important to acknowledge the growing role of AI in the marketing field. AI tools like OpenAI's GPT-4 and Midjourney  can generate content quickly; but let's be clear: AI is not a replacement for creativity, rather, a tool to augment it. It is a medium that can be used to enhance and amplify the creative elements of marketing strategies, while taking care of repetitive tasks. It's the creative, human touch that breathes life into AI-generated content and makes it relatable and engaging.  

Reinforcing the Power of Creativity 

To survive and thrive in this evolving landscape, brands need to strengthen their creative muscles. The effective blend of creativity and performance will be the winning formula in this new era. 

Creativity has always been the driving force that helps brands connect with their audiences on a deeper level. It shapes the narratives that engage, entertain, and ultimately, persuade consumers. It helps brands stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.  

There is and always will be a place for data-driven and performance marketing; it will continue to ensure that these creative efforts are effectively channeled. It will provide the critical insights needed to understand audiences and tailor content that strikes a chord. Now could be the time that "it", can be the wind in the sails of creative. 

The role of an agency in this era is to understand the symbiotic relationship between creativity and performance. It must offer a balanced, holistic approach that combines the power of imagination with the precision of data-driven insights. 

The spotlight is now on creativity. As we move forward, the brands that will succeed will be those that recognize and harness this power and all the tools that enable it.

Co-author Domingo Echague

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