Agency data and technology capabilities are taking center stage as every CMO feels the mounting pressure for more performance from their marketing and media investments. Agencies are betting heavily on data and building audience activation platforms to deliver growth, efficiency, and scale. These moves are paying off in media. However, the promise of data-driven creative is not yet a reality. Bringing audience activation platforms and technology to the creative process will chart a future course. Our latest Forrester report makes the argument that it’s time for CMOs and their agency partners to take the next great “human + machine” leap.

Agency Data Platforms Miss The Creative Mark

Despite potent media activation capabilities like identifying, segmenting, and engaging audiences in paid channels, agencies have yet to connect data platforms to the creative development process. The primary obstacle? Creative dissonance. Agencies’ creative departments lag in adopting the mindset that data can contribute to creativity. Some refuse. Others simply don’t know how. Agencies’ data offerings reside most frequently in HQs or hubs, leaving data deserts in certain offices and on certain accounts. CMOs and business leaders have little awareness and knowledge of agency data platforms. Additionally, the “new business”-first mindset keeps new offerings in reserve, making them most visible during pitches.

The Human + Machine Creative Team

To meet CMOs’ demands for performance and differentiation, agencies need to blend the advantages of machines with people. Growth comes when the creative workforce amplifies agencies’ and clients’ tech investments with a powerful creative/machine partnership. So in order for data, creative, and media to inform one another, strategists, creatives, and media specialists must use a universal source of insight. Position the agency data platform as the red thread of customer insight to organize the objectives, strategies, tactics, and evaluation. Develop faster strategic decisions by leveraging automation across the marketing process. Make the platform AI the newest member of the creative team. Assist designers, writers, and technologists with information, inspiration, and useful automation. Most importantly, apply these skill sets to new capabilities. Finally, predict the capabilities needed next to drive data-driven creativity across the brand experience.

Great things are done by a series of small things coming together.

The future of creative agencies will not rely on any one thing, just as a campaign no longer relies on a singular big idea. It will require several elements to come together. Data, technology, human intuition, creative differentiation as a trend, new economic models, and structural change are some examples. Set the conditions for these to converge. Vincent van Gogh once said that great things are done by a series of small things coming together. Our latest report, “The Agency Data Platforms That Will Power Creativity At Scale,” points to the first steps to take the human + machine creative leap.