Dynamic creative advertising technology is becoming more personalized.
Forrester ranked Jivox, RevJet, Thunder, Clinch and Celtra as “leaders” in its first-ever Creative Advertising Technology wave, released Monday. Adform, Flashtalking, Sizmek and Google were ranked “strong performers,” while Adacado was listed as a “contender.”
Vendors have tried to marry creative messaging to audience targeting for a decade and are just starting to bridge the gap. Meanwhile, adoption of creative ad technology among marketers is “right on the edge of prime time,” said Joanna O’Connell, VP principal analyst at Forrester and co-author of the report.
“Ten years ago, there was some early development that didn’t quite take off,” she said. “This next wave of companies, albeit still very early, are being adopted by giant brands that can help pave the way for a lot more adoption.”
Forrester evaluated companies with proprietary creative ad tech that can operate as standalone, self-serve platforms. It assessed their display capabilities, which is where the bulk of data-driven creative advertising happens today.
“Video is a really important emerging space, but on programmatic, marketers are spending so much money in display,” O’Connell said. “The opportunity to use creative ad tech to improve relevance is where we wanted to spend our energy.”
Companies in the wave use data to create relevant ads, integrate creative and media performance, enable faster production and speed to market, and allow brands to embrace localization from a global hub. Forrester chose the leaders because of their laser-focus on creative ad tech, while the strong performers include creative ad tech as part of a full-stack solution.
Jivox ranked first due to its ability to quickly produce thousands of creative assets for global brands with big product sets. Founded in 2007, Jivox has evolved from a creative versioning product to one that uses audience data, including client first-party data, to target consumers across channels.
“We use AI to map the most successful journeys, allow the marketer to see what’s working, and adjust the media and creative strategy accordingly,” said Diaz Nesamoney, CEO at Jivox.
RevJet makes complex decisioning accessible to marketers, earning it a spot in the leader category. Forrester singled out Thunder, which sits atop LiveRamp’s identity graph, for its people-based approach to creative. And Clinch was named a leader for its agility and cross-channel capabilities, while Celtra, also a leader, enables big global companies to speed up and localize production.
“You’re taking production from months to weeks when you work with these companies,” O’Connell said. “Clients want to streamline creative development and improve speed to market.”
Strong performers acknowledge that creative solutions are important, but aren’t hyperfocused on solving every issue in the category, O’Connell said. While personalization is a core component of Flashtalking’s platform, for example, the company is also focused on primary ad serving, identity orchestration, cookieless tracking and multitouch attribution.
“It’s never been our ambition to be a one-stop creative platform,” said Flashtalking CEO John Nardone.
But because most companies in the leader category are standalone, niche players, they’re likely to get acquired by bigger companies soon, O’Connell said.
“There’s an inevitability of a move toward more full-stack solutions,” she said. “There is a real desire for simplicity in tech stacks.”
As creative ad tech becomes more common in marketers’ tech stacks, vendors are making direct inroads with media agencies and brands. Creative agencies, however, are shying away.
“It seems to be coming more in the door of media, [where] folks are excited about matching audience strategy with execution,” O’Connell said. “Creatives are like, ‘I don’t know about this, I’m suspicious,’ but when they start playing with the tools, they become enthusiastic.”
Jivox is increasingly working directly with brands as it engages with channels beyond paid media, including email and site personalization, Nesamoney said. And about 60% of Flashtalking’s creative business comes directly from marketers, some with agency involvement, Nardone added.
“These are all CMO-driven initiatives,” Nesamoney said. “Both from a cost savings and a campaign engagement standpoint, it makes a very strong business case for marketers.”
Still, creative ad tech as a category is far from full adoption.
“The whole space is immature, certainly in terms of adoption, and even before that awareness,” O’Connell said. “It’s not a well-understood category.”