The Power of ‘And’
As a broad generalization, people tend to be right or left brain dominant. Depending upon our makeup, we’re either drawn to analytical and methodical thought (left brain) or creative and artistic thought (right brain). This doesn’t mean that artists aren’t good at math, or that engineers can’t paint. But it does mean that most people have certain predispositions when it comes to the types of thinking that are most comfortable for them. And since corporations are built by people, and tend to resemble the characteristics of their most influential members, it should come as no shock that businesses tend to be right or left brain dominant as well.
The Barbelling of the Advertising Ecosystem
In no industry is this inherent predisposition to one side of the brain or the other more apparent than in the advertising industry.
At the turn of the century, the internet unleashed data, giving advertisers answers to some of the most burning questions. Two of the top ones on marketers’ minds were where should I advertise and how much should I spend? With the ability to instantly measure ROI, marketers’ appetite for digital advertising grew. Like a modern-day Helen, this promise launched thousands of Adtech companies offering an array of solutions to the same problem — how to optimize budget and targeting.
On the far other side of the continuum, creative agencies multiplied, expanded, morphed and contracted. They did lots of things. And many of them made incredible work. But the one thing they didn’t do was build scalable technology, as this was viewed as a threat to the primacy of human effort. Over time, both ends of the barbell filled further and further, with little differentiation, and even less overlap in the middle.
This brings us to today. In my math classes I learned that there is such a thing as two infinity. So is a double Lumascape possible? Brilliant technologists the world over have automated everything possible. Algorithms seamlessly adjust targeting by the second. A thousand template tools create large volumes of almost creative work, and countless dynamic creative optimization offerings take those templates and churn out a million versions a second, each with a different shade of blue, or a stock photo perfectly matched to the weather, but with little actual creative thought behind them. And in another universe a million Don and Donna Drapers churn out one ad every million seconds, with little utilization of the tech systems that could be assisting them. There is painfully little in the middle. There is only ‘Or’. There is no ‘And’.
But there is an emerging trend in technology. Smart entrepreneurs are exploring the uncharted territory at the boundaries of technology and human systems. Collectively, we are recognizing that AI alone has limits, and that humans unassisted are humans outdated. The venture world is realizing that technology alone has capped value in an era when Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, etc. all have infinite engineering resources. Any pure technology product will be built in a week as soon as its utility is proven. It’s harder to build in the middle. But sometimes complexity can be a value multiplier. And forward-thinking businesses in many fields are realizing that properly combining technology and human ingenuity is a 1 + 1 = 100 situation.
The thing is, there’s enormous utility in ‘And’. Consider a typical experience with a doctor. Each visit starts with an analysis. Usually technology is involved in the assessment, and at the end of this assessment, the doctor approaches you with an insight. Perhaps you have the flu. Maybe a pulled muscle, or worse, a broken bone. The nature of the actual insight doesn’t matter. What matters is that the experience doesn’t end there, because if it did, no one would ever go to the doctor. The key to why the whole thing works lies in the ‘And’, because the doctor provides an insight AND an action to solve the problem. Whether it’s being prescribed penicillin, going to physical therapy, or having your broken bone reset, the ‘And’ is what makes the insight useful.
Creativity is ground zero for ‘And’. There are limits to the value that either side of the continuum can provide without the other. And the closer you can tie the two sides together, the more value you can unlock.
This is why VidMob lives in the ‘And’. We see the benefits of combining technology with human creativity every day. Whether it’s helping large global marketing organizations efficiently find and adapt media that was created in another market, using computer vision and human analyst systems to unearth valuable insights on creative performance, enabling growth brands to create with the scale and intelligence demanded today, or rapidly reacting to decaying performance with new, data-informed creative, the consistent thread through all of these things is technology enabling people to operate in new ways that drive exponential value to their business.
As a company, we are split almost 50/50 — with engineers, data scientists and product leaders on one side, and creative talent on the other. Everything we do is about embracing the wonderful difficulty of living in the ‘And’. We don’t worry about technology stealing jobs from creatives because ‘And’ is in our DNA. It drives our culture, the way we think and how we design our technology.
And it makes us better.