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The future of creative work

Brennan White
April 04, 2017


On 4/4/18 Getty Images and Cortex announced a partnership that moves our mission a huge step forward. Cortex technology, coupled with Getty’s giant database of photographic imagery, allows creatives to automatically have an entire content marketing strategy ready for them when they get to work. That’s right, an AI that works for you and has outlined your entire work day/week/month with creative ideas, timing/deployment, and now - professional imagery as well.

It’s really powerful and perfectly aligned with the vision we’ve been outlining from the beginning.

More to come soon, but to take the Cortex and Getty partnership for drive click here. One of our team will connect with you shortly to get you rolling.


One way that humanity judges progress at the societal level is through quality and number of creative works. So it’s not surprising that Cortex turning Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning onto creativity might ruffle a few feathers. The knee-jerk reaction, of course, is to worry about ceding the hegemony of yet another previously-human job to software - among other valid concerns.

"A robot would have captured my expression more accurately” - Mona Lisa

On deeper exploration, though, I think it’s clear that creative AI is the best thing to happen to professional creatives since MacPaint.

Using Data to Focus Creativity

If the broad goal of professionals is to create the best work output with the least wasted effort, it stands to reason that an AI that augments creatives’ ability to work would be well received.

Additionally, creatives in business are plagued by not being able to numerically backup their decisions and prove their value. This has lead to creative decisions often coming down to the most senior opinion in the room, instead of an evidence based determination about what will be most effective. Being able to prove that their choices were based on the best-available data and were the statistically most successful choice could end those awful “creativity isn’t real work” conversations:

The Struggle - Creatives

“I’m not paying for a website that’s going to be free to visit” … you can’t make this shit up

Creative organizations are structured like there are three roughly equally sized buckets of creative:

  • Things we’ve done before that work (orgs are made to do more of this)
  • Things we’ve done before that didn’t work (orgs are allergic to this content)
  • Things we haven’t tried yet

Or, as a controversial man once failed to succinctly explain - “... as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.”

“You clearly don’t know Mr. Secretary”

While existing creative software and processes barely understand the first two categories, it’s somewhat obvious how you’d start down this path - use past data to deeply understand what has and hasn’t worked before. Display that data in a way that us creatives can understand.

The third category - things we haven’t tried yet - is a lot more interested and has been traditionally left entirely untouched.

Navigating the White Space

Creative software and processes have acted like the untested creative world is a black box, or magic. Something to never be known. Or worse, something only to be tapped into with a “creative exercise” or a creative “guru”. Which, for those of you (like me) who have a degree in creative fields should invoke memories of touchy-feely bullshit and a lot of bloviating on the backend to explain your “process”.

This is problematic for the data-driven creative in a business setting.

Thanks to modern technology, there is now a more helpful (and realistic) model for reliably mining the creative depths. It starts by acknowledging that there are four distinct buckets of creative, not three:

Brennans creative success sq


Clearly, there are ideas out there that have never been tried, but that are less likely to work and shouldn’t be tried as well as ideas that are more likely to work and should be pursued. Luckily, data can be used to start to draw the line without us having to build and test everything.

Imagine A/B testing the infinite set of creative ideas that have never been tried. Not possible.

In fact, taking that into account, when one applies the numbers of creative ideas to each category and account for size, the previous image really looks like this:

Brennans scaled squares of creative success

The largest two buckets by an incalculable margin are the things you haven’t done. In fact, there are literally infinite new things to try while there are only a comparatively small thousands of types of creative you’ve tried.

Put more directly for the practitioners out there, for creatives, we don’t know how to avoid mistakes or capitalize on the great ideas in the largest set of content - things we haven’t tried yet.

That’s why Cortex was created and what gets us jazzed every morning. We help creatives mine the largest vein of creative available to them - white space.

Using ML and AI, Cortex builds a dynamically-updating marketing calendar filled with creative briefs for you to do exactly that. To try new things, to predict what your audience wants to interact with, and to focus your workload rather than making you a glorified sweatshop worker that’s slave to the A/B Test Monster.

We’re excited by this mission and look forward to working with many of you.

- Brennan White, Co-founder / CEO, Cortex

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