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In Defense of Data

There's plenty of chatter about advertising being taken over by data mining. I'm not so sure. I like to think that data, analytics and creativity are all related.

For me, there are two kinds of data: my data and the other data.

My data comes from my life, my observations, my hunches, my instincts.

The other data? Click-throughs, ROI's, response rates, competitive stats and obscure numbers that live on spreadsheets.

From a creative perspective, I like them both. I need them both.

Both lead to spectacular things, once they are drafted to perform in ways that their less interesting or insightful brethren never can.

Think of it as creative mining versus data mining.

Whether I'm listening to a creative partner or writing a phrase for a piece of content, I like how my creative data can thrill me, comfort me and connect to someone's emotions. It feels more real to me than the other kind of data which surfaces as percentages, pie charts and bar graphs.

But, as an equal opportunity advocate for data, I like the other data when it's used as a compass for exploration. When stats are used to lead to an observation or a point of view, they can actually make numbers feel more relatable, and yep, human.

The other day, Jonathan Ivey, the Apple guru of design, said something that I think embraces the need for both kinds of data.

"It's very easy to be different, but difficult to be better."

He went on to say what makes the folks at Apple think different is their culture's desire to constantly question and improve on the status quo.

Is it possible the same goes for advertising? I think so. How about you?

Meantime, today I'm making a toast to data. The kind that is buried inside all of us and in columns on a spreadsheet. Data that helps clients be different. And, equally important, be better.