Big Ideas do more than just sell a product; they elicit awe and wonder, create spaces where people can escape to and imagine themselves in lives very different from their own. Big Ideas change the way people think.
Great brand work can and should still do all of this today. But for some, the Big Idea (and its equally big-ticket price) is seen as passé.
Performance media campaigns—the fastest-growing campaign type for marketers—are built with granular measurement and iteration, infinite datasets and complex numbers, and more scrutiny on every marketing dollar spent than ever before. Modern marketing methods rely on analysis, modeling and an increasing confidence in the power of AI and machine learning. Big Ideas were never designed for these types of frameworks. Big ideas are nuanced and full of risk. They don’t sit inside spreadsheets. They’re the dreams of Mad Men, not Math Men, and no AI can replace them (or so we think).
In the past, whether the ideas were good or bad, their inability to sit inside CPU-driven analysis meant that they were always a leap of faith. People sensed their success, but there wasn’t anything to meaningfully benchmark against—we didn’t know, at a granular level, why they worked, and we certainly weren’t asking the complex questions that we are today.
Some might say that our obsession with measuring success is exposing, and accelerating the death of the “leap of faith” Big Idea. Performance marketing has created a new level of certainty that Big Ideas never offered, and so today, in the choice between certainty and a leap of faith, more are inevitability gravitating toward what they can prove. In 2020, performance marketing will continue to grow and expand in its importance to brands’ businesses—so much so that brand teams may start to compete for and even lose dollars to their performance counterparts. But is it only measurement that’s stifling advertising’s creativity?