Spring '13 AGency

May 5-8, 2013 | Austin, Texas

Q&A with Alastair Green

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Team One's executive creative director discusses the effect of big data on creativity and what marketers need to consider when using large data sets.

Alastair Green is Team One's executive creative director. His work, for companies like Marriott, Lexus, Microsoft, Nortel, Cisco, American Express, GlaxoSmithKline, Kodak, and Nestlé, has been recognized by Cannes, the CLIOs, The One Show, London Advertising Awards, Webbys, Communication Arts, DMA Echos, National and Regional Addys, DMA (U.K.), IAB Mixx Awards, and ad:tech.

I had a chance to sit down with Green, the "mad man" half of the "math man vs. mad man" keynote hot seat at the iMedia Agency Summit in Austin, and ask him a few questions about how big data is affecting creativity.

How is big data affecting creativity?
Large data sets will often create more questions than answers and even create bigger challenges for us. And, in my experience, I've found that the best creative ideas nearly always have a simple and consistent thought at the center of them. So with these two principles pushing up against each other, the question really becomes, "How can we get more creative with big data sets to create simple but brilliant insights that can lead to brilliant creative ideas?"

How is Team One incorporating big data into its work?
We use big data for refining and targeting the message. In a world where you are receiving (in some estimates) 5,000 commercial messages each day, pieces of information can allow us to filter messages and connect with audiences in a relevant and meaningful way. Big data allows us to be more informed and find the one, simple, undiscovered truth.

The integration of multiple data sources is also key -- you can get a bigger, more comprehensive picture through integrating data sets and not making decisions in a data silo.

What are some of the most important things that brands need to consider when using data?
Don't be blinded by too much data. Pinpoint opportunities and positions that your brand can stand for. Too often, data can cause people to forget what they are trying to accomplish -- just because you can measure something doesn't mean that it's the right measure for what you are doing. With creative, you need to make sure that you don't look at the wrong data.

How does big data play a role in the intermix of the physical and digital worlds?
We have all heard the Google mantra, "Don't be evil." Big data brings up huge privacy concerns for all of us, but with that cautious filter, it can actually play a very important role in how it can help filter content and connect audiences. For example, I love when my regular online browsing habits actually offer me a special to save money. It's all about relevancy and treating us, the general public, with respect.

Katharine Panessidi is the content director for iMedia Communications Inc.

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