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Explainers

What Is a Creative Strategist—And Why You Need One

November 11, 2022
Evan Lee

Table of Contents

We have teamed up with Motion to create a three-part series that examines the role Creative Strategist play in maximizing a brand's marketing capabilities. This is the first article of the three-part series.

The slowdown in global economic growth, sparked by tightening fiscal policies and high inflation, has forced many companies to reexamine their spending to stretch profit margins.

And ad budgets are usually the first to go.

Digital media is already feeling the heat. Platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have reported declining ad sales over the last quarter of 2022.

Despite this negative outlook, paid social advertising remains a key driver of growth for businesses, with U.S. social media ad spend projected to reach $80.6 billion in 2022. That's over half of the total U.S. digital ad spend and nearly 20% of the total advertising expenditure in North America.

This presents an opportunity for businesses scrambling for efficiencies. Asking how does a brand maximize its marketing capabilities despite declining budgets?

The answer: A new role that ties data and creative together.

The creative strategy problem

As we move towards a privacy-first, less targeted marketing landscape, creative brains will become the biggest lever across paid social. The fastest-growing brands are supported by the best media buyers and good creative talent, a winning combination that makes for effective campaigns that drive growth.

However, the two teams are often siloed. Creative teams are left to make decisions without media buying insights. Media buyers also struggle with communicating creative needs back to the creative team.

The result: Two departments that aren't empowered to do their best work.

So how does one bridge the gap between creatives and media buyers?

Enter the Creative Strategist

The most digital-savvy brands have created a new role to solve this challenge: a Creative Strategist.

But what makes a creative strategist different from a CMO, creative director or growth strategist?

Indeed.com defines a Creative Strategist as "a marketing professional who focuses on improving a company's overall marketing and advertising plans." But that doesn't quite capture the breadth of the role.

The Creative Strategist is the bridge between the brand's left and right brains. 

The creative team—the right brain—is focused on the creativity and innovations required to create an effective ad. On the other hand, the media team—the left brain—is focused on analytics, ad performance, and business goals.

Media buyers possess the data on ad performance and business goals. But they don't necessarily know how to create new iterations faster or provide visibility into insights.

Creative Strategists lead the people who will define the messaging and ultimately produce the ad—copywriters, illustrators, designers, editors. They also serve as the creative's connection to the left brain. A good Creative Strategist knows how to look at data, break it down into actionable insights, and translate that knowledge into new ads.

Simply put, Creative Strategists merge emotion and logic. They find the sweet spot between creative theory and media reality to maximize marketing results.

What a creative strategist does—and doesn't do

Carefully defining each department's roles empowers them to lean in into their strengths while minimizing weaknesses. Someone who tries to do everything will end up accomplishing nothing. The same is true for Creative Strategists.

Creative Strategists do not claim to be an expert in both worlds. Ideally, media and creative are kept disparate, but never separate. Instead, Creative Strategists facilitate collaboration and flow between the two poles. It's this careful partnership that allows businesses to fully harness business strategy and creative innovation.

Creative Strategists are not responsible for collecting and interpreting data. Media buyers highlight trends and problems, while the Creative Strategist helps share creative insights and puts the issue in a better context to create plans for future iterations.

Empowering your Creative Strategists

Motion allows you to build reports that easily help identify key drivers of creative performance.

Today's top brands have used data-driven creatives to great effect, and a well-defined Creative Strategist is the most effective way to bridge the gap between media buyers and creatives.

There are many approaches when dealing with this new role, but it all comes down to whether your people team possess the right tools to deal with the challenges of the new media landscape. Just as art directors need copywriters, creative strategists need to be empowered to execute solutions.

Motion  is a creative analytics platform that helps marketers and creative teams identify what works to create  high-performing ads that convert .

Visit Motionapp.com to learn more about creative strategy and how you can leverage their tool to improve your campaign performance.

Evan Lee
about the author

Evan Lee is the Head of Creative Strategy at Motion.

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