For the last several years, advertisers have leaned harder and harder on data to inform decisions, from strategic planning to media buying to creative. The emergence of new marketing platforms built entirely around artificial intelligence and machine learning confirms that a growing reliance on data is re-shaping the industry. The “science” of advertising is taking over.

For media sellers in particular, delivering timely, reliable data to your advertisers has become table stakes. Our research shows that if you’re not delivering hard numerical evidence to support your recommendations, you’ll never win the day. No surprises here.

But what about your advertisers? How are they managing this newly required math degree in an otherwise artistic profession? Several of our reports show that advertisers want more support from media sellers and ad tech companies, especially if complicated cross-platform campaigns are afoot. They’re overwhelmed by the amount, types, and complexity of data. They simply can’t wrangle it all.

Could this be a perfect time for media sellers and ad tech companies to marry the art and science of advertising for their clients?

The strongest marriages are built on the strengths that each partner brings to the relationship. Media sellers bring a data mindset that also acknowledges the power of creative thinking. Advertisers bring an artistic mindset willing to be influenced by any fertile creative resource – including data. As a media seller, how can you officiate this new relationship?

  1. Acknowledge the importance of balance

Marketers and advertisers have a natural affinity for creative thinking, and an “all data all the time” approach can be off-putting. Instead, preach the balance – that you’ll bring the data, but also help them creatively interpret what the numbers mean in terms of opportunity. Creative collaboration around datasets would be an outstanding first date.

  1. Sometimes, let the data take a back seat

If you’re serious about bringing in the human side of creative thinking for your advertising clients, you’ll have to walk the talk. While report read-outs might sometimes dominate your relationship, from time to time start with a review of the actual creative that’s playing in market. This will orient everyone to the artistic environment your advertiser must compete with.

  1. Keep a curious mind

Curiosity is at the root of creativity. As natural “numbers” people, anyone involved with media buying and selling can get focused on the data we know. Opening up the discussion to business goals and strategic planning, asking questions about offline creative executions and even websites or point-of-sale can help you see the big picture – and support your clients more deeply.

There is a tectonic shift afoot in advertising driven by new artificial intelligence capabilities and of course, big data. Adjustments must be made by buyers and sellers alike, even when it feels like we’re all in the middle of a tornado. Balance is the answer – like any relationship – with creativity helping us make sense of the math, and vice versa.