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I Love Math

Some of my favorite people have already responded, but I had been planning to write a blog post for so long that I feel like I still have to get it off my chest:

An article in Ad Age Digital, “The Dangers of Online Advertising’s ‘Math State’“, struck me as verging on irresponsible. I know people love a contrarian view point – look, I am blogging about it – but c’mon!

I had two immediate reactions:

  1. I am as online quant geeky as it comes. But even I recognize the value of great creative. Making great creatives has not gone down in value – I predict it will be the primary driver of the growth of online advertising over the next 20 years. But there is science there. Everyone who has written software knows that “great process provides a framework that can unlock creativity”. We have not yet determined how great creative can be expressed online – there will be an element of math and science to that – but that is no reason for a creative person to be scared.
  2. Kendall devalues what we have done online in the worst way. If I told you that we had developed tools that could determine with amazing precision, person-by-person, at an individually targeted level, the effectiveness of TV ads, would Kendall have said, “All the creativeness has been removed from TV advertising.” Not at all. We are introducing amazing new targeting and measurement in a new advertising world. That is good. The fact that the creative format is not as good today as it should be does not take away from the value of what has been constructed.

One of the things that I loved about this business from the moment I got started in 1993 was that we have the opportunity that John Wanamaker dreamed of: The chance to figure out what advertising is working and what advertising is not. And make it work better.

And I love math. Math is beautiful. Working with numbers is a beautiful act of creation and discovery that is fun and makes you a better person. Math is a gift to humanity that we have been given to explore our universe. Take that.

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