Fifty years ago, there wasn't much choice. Relatively, anyway.

Let’s just look at how a customer might have become aware of our business in 1960.

Well, There has always been verbal word of mouth. Direct mail was always an option, and quite an effective one when done properly.

If we are looking at mediums of communication, we had three TV networks, radio, the newspapers, and books.

There were outdoor advertisements like bus benches and billboards, but not as many as there are today.

The choices one had to make in the ‘Mad Men’ era had started to become more complex. In later seasons of that show, subplots developed around which agency had the biggest computer to drive with media buying decision-making.

A megacomputer has arrived at (the agency). “What man lay on his back counting stars and thought about a number?” asks Don (Draper), framing it as a battle between philosophy and bean-counting. - The Slate's review of "The Monolith" Mad Men, Season 7, Episode 1

This fictional struggle, in 1969, between a creative director and the robot machines is still relevant today.

With the limited set of choices above, it was of great value to many to have a computer help drive decisions.

To someone who is used to going by gut feel, data-driven decision making can be a tough pill to swallow.

Imagine how we are to react to today’s set of choices when it comes to ad distribution alone. I can’t list them here. We aren’t limited to time slots. We are pretty closed to ‘audience of one’ capabilities for targeted ads being served to single member audiences.

Your customer has an ever-growing number of choices when it comes to how to spend their time.

But you do not have an unlimited budget, and you must make choices on how to best spend your time, creativity, and coveted ad budgets.

I suggest you allow the data to creep in a little to help inform these decisions.

But Don was right about one thing, you shouldn’t let data stifle creativity.

You have to balance the art and the science. It’s a choice you can make every day.