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SXSW 2024: Swayable's Panel with Paramount & Voter Formation Project

At this year's SXSW, Swayable invited Erin McDonough, Vice President of Global Strategy and Insights at Paramount Pictures & Tatenda Musapatike, Founder and CEO of Voter Formation Project, to co-host a panel with our CEO and Co-founder James Slezak. This panel highlighted effective creative pre-testing strategies that empower marketers to drive more impactful campaigns.

Marketers and storytellers are deluged with big data, but often fail to ask if it’s relevant to the goals of their campaigns, or collected ethically. A growing group of storytellers and data scientists believe we can do better. They’re using new technology to run rapid causal experiments that double their impact on real-world outcomes, with informed consent.

This panel brings together industry leaders transforming data-driven decision-making in some of the world’s most successful campaigns. We’ll learn how they’re driving real-world action from the box office to the ballot box.

Here are our top three takeaways from the session: 

  • Experimentation empowers creatives to take more risks
  • Marketers need data that proves cause and effect to create winning campaigns
  • Building consistent, iterative pre-testing strategies into your project timelines leads to smarter campaigns

1. Experimentation empowers creatives to take more risks

Does your organization empower creatives (to take more risks)?

As Erin said of creatives working with data, “When we’re in a safe testing environment, creatives have the ability to really throw a lot of things out there and see what works. This can be a safe space where we can try many different ideas that creatives might not feel comfortable with going straight to market - it’s a way to vet it.”

When creatives are able to put their ideas to the test and have performance data to back them up within 24 hours, they're empowered to take more risks. This is a game changer for creatives looking to test out a new voice for their brand or take a risk on an edgier idea. 

As James put it, “When they realize that with creative testing, they don't have to have their great idea shot down next time that's a bit edgy; they can expand the universe of the possible, and that’s a really cool outcome.”


2. Marketers need data that proves cause and effect to create winning campaigns

Does your organization’s testing actually prove lift, not just engagement? Traditional engagement metrics such as click-through-rate or views don't tell the complete story of your campaign's success.

As Swayable’s CEO & Co-founder James Slezak said of measuring campaign impact, “The goal is to cause an impact on something different than just a click, or a like. You're trying to shift an intent or a belief or an attitude about the world. Step One is to identify the right outcome variable, and Step Two is to prove that you can change it. By conducting a carefully structured experiment, you can prove that the campaign is in fact lifting the correct metric.”

With Swayable's robust, scientifically-backed testing protocols, the world's biggest brands are not only able to measure the results of their creative work or campaigns, they're able to prove causation.

“I have seen over time an evolution of being somewhat reactive to getting way, way ahead of things to bringing testing insights into that process when we’re developing a movie or deciding the direction the franchise is gonna go," remarked Erin McDonough of Paramount Pictures.


3. Building consistent, iterative testing into your project timelines leads to smarter campaigns

Paramount and Voter Formation Project have both implemented creative testing into their project timelines at various stages. Even the most seemingly insignificant elements to your campaign can make a difference.

As Tatenda said of Voter Formation Project's commitment to pre-testing, “We test everything, because the assumptions held from last election cycle don’t always hold true. Whether it be message, platform performance, response to colors, or even aspect ratios of your creative - all of that can make a difference.”

Smart campaigns aren't built on assumptions, they're built on data. When organizations like Voter Formation Project test their creative, they're looking to understand how their target audiences feels and what they think prior to green lighting their campaign. With Swayable's emotional analysis tools, you can see what your key audiences really feel about your creative, prior to publishing it.

According to Tatenda, using causal data helps prevent creatives from making assumptions about their audiences. “We use a lot of causal data to understand feelings before we make assumptions about what creative needs to work. That’s how we found Swayable - looking for solutions on how is it we can start to measure things like ‘How do you feel about voting?’”


Interested in leveraging creative pre-testing?

When you use Swayable's powerful pre-testing technology, you'll never have to gamble on how audiences will perceive your content. Stop going into your creative production process blind, and harness the power of brand insights before you take your campaign live!

To check out Swayable for yourself, check out our Apple iPhone 14 demo.

Interested in a live demonstration? Contact or book a demo to see how Swayable can improve your brand's campaign production process. Implementation can be done in just a few days!