This piece was written by Michael Foster, and originally appeared on the &THEN blog

One of the age-old questions in marketing is whether a data-driven or a creative approach ultimately leads to the best ROI. The best brands in the world know this is a foolish question, because the answer is both. But both approaches have been historically siloed in the advertising world – that is, until now.

Increasingly, content marketing has been much driven by data, targeting tools and A/B testing. While the data that marketers collect doesn’t determine the narrative used in brand promotion, the best content creators understand that they can focus their efforts if they embrace the data that is available. They must incorporate it into their thought process and creative efforts when ultimately making the content that defines the brand’s identity in the minds of customers and potential customers.

But how exactly do you tell a data-driven story? This is the question that The Muse’s VP of Branded Content Heather Freiser is going to address in her session titled “The Intersection of Numbers and Narrative” at this year’s DMA &THEN conference in Las Vegas.

Freiser will be addressing one of the big questions currently plaguing content creators: How do you cut through the noise of so much content, with an ever-expanding landscape of videos, podcasts, blog posts, social media posts and other digital ephemera fighting for attention? How can you produce narratives that are compelling, engaging and on-point for a brand?

Knowing that a storyteller can make an impact on an audience by telling the right story at the right time is an important starting point in today’s content creation. And that’s where data comes in.

By using the growing store of data that is available on people, their behavior, their interests, their motivations and their responses, content creators can perfect their storytelling abilities and craft narratives that appeal to different people in different contexts in different ways.

For copywriters, photographers and media planners, this approach is nothing new. For a long time, they have worked to produce unique ads that will appeal to distinct audiences, with different creative appealing to different audience segments and demographics.

And now it’s time for long-form content to get in the game. By using the right data to understand how narratives resonate and why they don’t, content creators can tell stories that influence people’s world view and keep them interested – while avoiding the pitfall of being forgotten or ignored. This technique is becoming increasingly more common due to the great competition for people’s attention.

Want to avoid the fray? Join us at this year’s &THEN and learn how to combine numbers and narrative to get the attention you deserve – and that your brand needs to survive.

This article is brought to you by &THEN, DMA’s annual event. Click here to join the leaders of the marketing community and advance your data and marketing mastery in Las Vegas, October 7-9.