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Friends in a Car

Trust Your Audience

Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is a masterclass on the creative life and the work ethic that’s needed to even have a chance to succeed.

Seinfeld is so disciplined and often references the tireless commitment to the craft that must be central to daily life. When he sees fellow creatives lose this commitment, he knows this line of work is over for them. (I don’t mean to scare anyone here.) He also believes, actually knows, that the audience decides what works. Laughs are his currency and instantly provide proof of what is good and what’s not, within his standards of course. I don’t think all creative work is like that (see the always excellent but not-always-wildly-popular films of directors Michelangelo Antonioni or Jim Jarmusch, among others) but, yes, most of commercial art should be assessed in similar terms.

That’s a somewhat long way of saying that creatives in advertising must realize that the algorithms (for good or ill, and that’s another conversation), which distribute most of our digital ads to audiences, must be embraced. We have all A/B tested our work for years but now, more than ever, we need to share even more creative ad sets for each campaign (or, dare I say, use AI) and listen to the data. Those data points are the responses of your audience and will tell you what is working and, perhaps more importantly, what is not. Put more dollars behind the winners and remove the losers (yes, I know it’s a harsh word) from the mix. That’s even if the latter were versions that you loved the most.

It may be a difficult lesson for creatives who think we know what works best, myself included, but we all need to listen to the data in our business-focused work. It’s the currency of our time. Continue to create boldly, and with great discipline, but make sure your eyes are focused on your audience, even if you never get the chance to meet them in person.

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