Advertising has always been associated with creative thinking and eye-catching visuals. Every year we discuss the best Super Bowl ads more than the game itself. The biggest award show in advertising is focused on creative. The best scenes in the most famous TV show about advertising were often the creative pitches that wowed the clients.
Yet for those working within digital media, it may sometimes feel like creative takes a back seat, given the rise of technology and data. So much industry conversation today is about how ads are targeted and delivered, rather than what they look like. Many may be wondering how they can get back on the path to truly great creative.
The answer actually lies in the technologies dominating the digital space. Data and technology are not replacing creative – rather, creative is the connective tissue that unites all of the tools and channels modern marketers are using to interact with consumers. Increased access to deep data learnings and cutting-edge technology have put the industry on the cusp of a creative revolution, helping brands connect with consumers like never before.
There are a number of factors fueling this advancement, starting with the tools that allow advertisers to design and build multiple creative versions per campaign. Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) is the most common of these products. DCO allows creative teams to design different interchangeable elements within a display, video or rich media ad. They then build in certain parameters so that different audiences see different versions of the ad, with the technology automatically adjusting the ad based on the data signals available for the consumer. This can result in hundreds of thousands of ad permutations, depending on how many creative variables there are in an ad.
Over time, the system optimizes the campaign so that it matches the best performing creative to each target audience. Linear programming optimization determines which audience segments and which creative permutations will yield the best outcome for the campaign. That allows a brand to test different creatives at scale and with great speed. Instead of one-to-many messaging, they move much closer to one-to-one personalization.
Of course, algorithms can’t do all the work by themselves, and these tools require calibration to deliver maximum return. The only way to achieve success with creative optimization is to start off with a strong creative foundation and an informed strategy built on knowledge about the target audience and campaign goals.
All campaign creative needs to be developed with respect to the brand’s big picture. Every piece must fit together: the communications architecture, business objectives, and the customer journey. In many cases, it helps for the advertiser to work with a partner that can handle both the creative development and the technological execution of the media campaign. At AUDIENCEX,we have robust internal strategy and creative capabilities to establish messaging, positioning, and the look and feel of brand campaigns.
Campaigns must differentiate brands from their competitors, with clear goals to measure return on investment. That foundation helps creative partners work on the engaging visuals that will align with the overall strategy, within the campaign ads, as well as on landing pages and content that appears both online and off. This is incredibly important for engaging with consumers in the middle of the purchase funnel. New technological capabilities, like retargeting, may inspire marketers to chase consumers who have already displayed purchase intent, but that audience pool is ultimately limited. Engaging creative content is still required to draw consumers towards that initial purchase.
When all of these capabilities are used together, brands can sit at the convergence point between creativity, technology and media to deliver powerful consumer experiences. Advertisers no longer need to dream about delivering a personalized message that matches an individual consumer’s interests. Data and technology now give them the “right message, right person” creative capability that they’ve been chasing for so long.