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Marketers Are Prioritizing Analytics and Creative More This Year – Here’s Why

Merkle’s recently released Q3 2022 Performance Media Report surveyed marketers to understand trends across the industry. It uncovered several key trends that spanned media channels, as well as the latest on privacy and inflation. One of the report’s findings highlighted the importance of areas outside of traditional media channels to today’s marketing organizations. Let’s dig more into what the data showed and some of the reasons behind this shift.

How Did We Discover the Importance of Non-Traditional Media Channels?

We asked marketing decision makers to tell us which areas of marketing they’ve prioritized more year over year in the past three months. Every response option saw Y/Y increases for the majority of surveyed advertisers, but the two that stood out were analytics and creative. Sixty-four percent of respondents noted that they were prioritizing these two areas more this year than last. While neither of these areas drive leads or business outcomes in isolation, they both have significant impacts across other channels and are key enablers of successful marketing efforts.

Why are Marketers More Invested in Creative?

There are several reasons that creative is more important than ever for digital marketers:

  1. Creative is a key component of cohesive experiences. Today’s consumers are keenly aware that they’re sharing data with brands – and in sharing that data, they’re expecting value in exchange. Companies can deliver part of that value by providing seamless engagement, no matter where the customer interacts with the brand. Tone, messaging, and visuals – all components of creative – play a significant role in creating consistent user experiences.
  2. Creative is more scalable and dynamic than ever before. Historically, brands were limited in how much they could customize creative for different users. The emergence of dynamic creative optimization (DCO) has changed that. DCO can use data and performance to rapidly create and optimize different iterations of ads. This unprecedented ability to personalize creative in a scalable way has caught the attention of marketers. In our survey, 47% of respondents chose “using machine learning tools to aid in imagery selection and message execution” as a current top-two priority in the creative realm.
  3. Marketers have less time to capture a user’s attention. Distractions are at an all-time high, with countless brands vying for a consumer’s attention across devices and platforms. In a world where brands have less time than ever to catch someone’s eye and convince them to engage, there’s no room for creative that’s just “good enough” – it needs to be executed perfectly, which requires greater investment and attention.

Why are Marketers More Invested in Analytics?

A few key changes across the industry and society have contributed to a bigger focus on analytics and data for marketers.

  1. The user journey is becoming more complex. The number of digital devices that consumers use is constantly growing – and each of those devices present a data collection opportunity. With more diluted, less linear consumer journeys, attribution and reporting have become increasingly important for marketers seeking to capture those data points and use them in meaningful ways.  
  2. In challenging times, marketers need to make the most of every ad dollar. Inflation’s impact is pervasive, with 85% of our survey respondents concerned about how it and other macroeconomic factors will impact their organizations for the rest of the year. Costs are not only higher for consumers, but also for the brands offering them products and services. With potentially slimmer margins, brands can’t afford any wasted ad spend – and top-notch reporting and analytics play a key role in making sure marketing dollars are contributing to desired business outcomes.
  3. The death of the third-party cookie requires stronger first-party data management. Marketers who didn’t have a strong first-party data strategy used to be able to rely heavily on the third-party cookie to reach prospective audiences effectively. With the third-party cookie on its way out, brands need must fine-tune their first-party data if they want strong targeting options.
  4. Privacy changes are making measurement more complicated. With less direct visibility into performance, capabilities like conversion modeling and closed-loop reporting have become more important. Forty-five percent of our survey respondents marked “getting accurate reporting in the face of privacy regulations and tracking changes” as a top-two priority within measurement.


The roles of creative and analytics in performance media and marketers’ sentiments about them are just a few of the data points we explored in this quarter’s report. Download the full Q3 2022 Performance Media Report to learn more about what matters most in digital today.