Trusting your gut in a data-driven world

by Anneliese Sullivan

In a world of uncertainty around the capabilities of artificial intelligence and what it means for the workforce, I’m quietly confident I’ve chosen the right career.

(This show of hubris will probably lead to my demise at the hands of a robot, Greek tragedy-style, so watch this space).

Don’t get me wrong, Grammarly is already out-editing me and I couldn’t tell the difference between AI-written news stories and their human counterparts in that article on my Facebook feed. I’m quietly confident, because there’s something that I’m (fairly) certain robots don’t have –and that’s a gut feeling.

I’m not sure anyone can put it in words, let alone code, but creatives just know when an idea is ‘right.’ It’s big. It’s special. It’s the perfect solution, rooted in a truth that will resonate with people in all the right ways. How do you know? This feeling is your professional creative opinion, developed and finessed with the experience of coming up with many, many ideas–and making many, many mistakes.

Unfortunately, in a world where everything needs to be measured and quantified, this feeling doesn’t quite cut it anymore. We can show our client show their ads are performing in real time –their return on investment, right before their eyes. And of course, this can be very effective for getting the most out of a tactical campaign and improving the next one.

It has, however, made some clients accustomed to having data to back up any creative idea. Suddenly, your gut feeling – your professional opinion – means very little up against numbers on a spreadsheet or the first impressions of a select few members of the general public.

Now, I’m obviously no expert when it comes to collecting and interpreting user data from research groups or otherwise. But in my experience, and that of many of my peers, getting the public involved too early in the creative process may be the kiss of death for an idea that just feels ‘right.’

If we want to make better creative advertising, we need to take more creative risks. And that starts with letting go of our data safety blankets. We all need to trust our gut, because there is no exact science to this eureka moment. Once they work that out, I’ll happily be replaced by a robot.