10 views on creativity versus technology from marketers at CES 2015

Brand marketers and strategists, publishers, vendors and agencies share their views on creativity in a technology saturated world, and how technology is helping – or hindering – their creative thinking.

As technology permeates every aspect of marketing and advertising, there is ongoing debate as to its impact on creativity and innovation.

During this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, marketers and leading brand executives, along with marketing and ad technology vendors, publishers and digital agencies, took to the stage to discuss their views on creativity in a technology saturated world, and how technology is helping – or hindering – their creative thinking.Here are some of their insights:

Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation officer, Visa

“The concepts of technology and creativity are not at odds with one another. I don’t understand how you could be creative today unless you’re at least comfortable understanding the ways technology can bring that creativity to life. If you didn’t have that left brain and right brain balance, I think you’d be handicapped in terms of your ability to contribute.

“Storytellers are taking technology into consideration in terms of everything we do. I think of the means we have on a daily basis and the types of companies and brands we’re interacting with and they’re [technology and creative] just conflated concepts. It’s really hard to distinguish what is the technology part of the conversation versus creativity part.”

Eric Hadley, head of partner marketing, Pinterest

“For a long time, technology people previously didn’t get creativity… but with all the data we have today, it’s easy to come back and say ‘we are going to do all these crazy ideas, you won’t understand it but let me show you all these data points that show why it makes sense’. You get away from the subjectivity of creativity by backing it up with all this data.”

Woodson Martin, CMO, Salesforce Marketing Cloud

“There is an opportunity with all the technology we have today in marketing to focus on the individual experience. Creativity is not just being about a deliverable, visualisation or story, but the experience across many of those that forms the journey a single consumer will take with a brand. That opens lots of possibilities for creativity.”

Sam Olstein, global director of innovation, GE

“Technology has democratised storytelling. It’s so easy to go out and build a community and tell a story. That is what has changed - it’s not so much about technology solving issues, but so many unique personalities who are finding ways to embrace technology in their own voice. It’s limitless and that’s the real opportunity from a marketing standpoint to take advantage of those new creators.

“Silicon Valley is creating more products that deconstruct everything and providing the tools for others to deconstruct marketing and storytelling.”

Jordan Kretchmer, founder and CEO, Livefyre [content marketing tech vendor]

“Nine years ago while I was working in an agency, I came up with an idea that we should have creative technologists. I hired an engineer who could design. It was mindblowing… he was both creative and an amazing artist, but he also coded. He could take something from top to bottom.

“Fast forward to now, I believe technology without creativity is almost worthless, and creativity without technology is becoming much harder. Whether it’s big data that gives you the insights you need, or utilising a technology platform to accomplish something you have never done before, it’s key.”

Ian Schafer, CEO, Deep Focus [digital agency] “My role is about finding unique applications of technology in world of marketing. I have grown comfortable in this world of grey, which all of us marketers need to be. It’s finding that sweet spot of investing something not from a technology standpoint, but the application of that technology to build a new consumer experience. I consider that creative rather than technological.

“The technology also used to be problem solving, whereas now it’s equal parts instigation. People are creating things because the price of creating things has gotten so low and processing power has become so inexpensive.”

Miha Mikek, founder and CEO, Celtra [ad tech vendor]

“Creativity and technology today is a dialogue. One of the highest forms of creativity is technology – we make something to help us to create something else. Usually the creative side poses the question and technology finds an answer. And that then changes the creativity process, as we have different tools to do things next time.

“In the ad tech space, technology is really challenging the creative side and creative is catching up. But at the same time, creativity is being challenged by consumers. It’s a constant exchange back and forth.”

Priya Narang, SVP of marketing and sales development, Time Inc

“I see technology as liberating our creativity. Our brands have heritage of storytelling – technology has taken what an artist had as a finite canvas and made it an infinite canvas. We’re not limited to words on a page but can write digitally, interact in real-time with social media to gauge what’s connecting and be able to continue telling that story. Technology has opened up the floodgates of storytelling.”

David Pemsel deputy chief executive, Guardian News and Media , Guardian

“Ten years ago, you would have had technology, then journalism, and an uncomfortable relationship between the two. Now every journalist sees technology as enabler to get their content around the world as quickly as possible. While it was seen as a threat before, it’s now a way to get their message across and a massive opportunity to get content out faster.”

David Ives, chief revenue officer, Newscred

“The pressure on creative today is to be 24/7, and make it a living, breathing, everyday moment. For us, this is all about workflow, collaboration, how you’re structuring your organisation and how you deal with the bureaucratic part of the machine – interaction with agency, legal compliance - that let the creatives be creative.

“Technology isn’t here to make your life harder, it’s there to help you focus on the thing you do best, which is creativity. That’s how we get modern creative on-board.”

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