CANNES: Despite continuous innovation in the media sector, creative shops have struggled to bring clients compelling strategic data that can ease conversations with the C-suite, according to one client-side marketer.

Speaking at Cannes recently,  Dan Burdett, Chief Marketing Innovation Officer at eBay, explained that traditional creative work was being eclipsed by digital channels that are data-literate and focus on linking their work to bottom line returns. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report on proving the value of strategy.)

Efficiency, said Burdett, rose to the top of priorities, thanks to digital’s capability to deliver flattering numbers. “It doesn’t mean they’re the best channels,” he said, “it just means they’re the most measurable.”  

This thirst for measurement has affected marketers’ priorities in ways that are not neccessarily for the good of their brand. “It’s relegated more traditional brand building efforts further down the list of things that marketers get to do because it’s too difficult to prove the value of it in the long term,” Burdett noted.

eBay, however, is putting money behind measuring creative’s effectiveness. “We’re investing as much money and as much time and effort in trying to understand how you can measure creative effectiveness as you can measuring media effectiveness.

“It’s hard to move a business unless you convince the CFO or the CEO that what you do matters.” As a client, eBay has invested heavily in proving the strategic value of creative work, “but I’m not seeing that from agencies”.

The issue is that the media industry has done a much better job of helping prove value to the CFO, Burdett said.

“It makes your job so much easier when you’re going into the boardroom.” The media industry has led the way in helping to prove value, and ad agencies – from one client’s perspective – “need to wake up to the fact that they must attach value to what they do.”

For more on creativity, read: Gunn 100: Lessons from the world's best creative campaigns

Sourced from WARC