Here’s the problem: While brands chomp at the bit to become more data-driven to drive relevant cross-device messaging, there is a first mover’s challenge.
“A lot of large marketers use MMM (media mix modeling) and MMM is based on TV. When you get into the digital space, including mobility, where you can measure device-based transactions, yet you’re relying on MMM to spit out ROI data, there’s a disconnect,” Kienast said. “It is a push and pull I encounter every day with my clients where they are very excited to spend a large percentage of their advertising dollars on mobility, but then the question before sign off is, ‘We don’t have ROI so do we really want to go with these spend levels?’”
In addition to budgetary challenges, the greatest technical limitation to programmatic creative and media execution, according to Chris Cunningham, cofounder of Appssavvy, is speed and timing.
“In order to swap out the right creative and target the right user with the right ad, that requires making adjustments based on real-time data and that requires creative optimization,” he said. “When you are buying on a programmatic basis, you are sometimes bidding on available inventory in real time, [which does not] allow time to see what creative is working, adjust and then buy media.”
Issue Of Supply And Demand
In digital video, marketer’s say they want it, but aren’t ponying up. At this year’s Cannes Lions Festival, WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell called out this discrepancy, particularly around mobile video.
Brands today just want to buy video inventory, regardless of where it is sometimes, said Ben Kartzman, cofounder and CEO of dynamic creative ad tech company Spongecell. Buying display inventory by contrast is more considered and strategic. “[There] is such a plethora of inventory that the targeting has become much more important,” he explained. “Naturally, it’s just a size and maturity of market and we know how fast video is growing, so it will get there. Creative will follow.”
But brand spend will only arrive when the right metrics are in place. Engagement, time spent and the extent to which the creative drove upper-funnel performance are all metrics brands want, Kartzman said.
Moreover, media and creative agencies need to be equipped to supply creative for a real-time media buy.
“The majority of money is being spent in TV, so that is where creative agencies are spending their time,” Kienast said. ”There needs to be a big pendulum shift where mobile needs to be the first screen because mobile and digital is where you’re heading from a programmatic standpoint, and there has to be a big step change or programmatic will never happen in a way that we foresee it becoming because the assets will not be available.”
Spongecell’s Kartzman agrees that agencies will lead the shift in spend and deployment of data-driven creative. But that's not to say brands aren't making the move, independently, either. "Some smaller brands we work with use this tool directly," he noted.
Ad tech largely focuses on increasing media efficiencies. Demand and supply-side platforms are the most present examples. And these tools were first adopted and used by agency trading desks.
“The creative agencies have sort of been left out in the cold and the opportunity for data-driven creative and more control of that process [will come from] tools like ours and other dynamic creative technologies,” he said. “They can go in and make changes whenever they want….where they don’t need an offshore team, somebody in house is the expert, and it’s more efficient and you can pull more data in.”
Where programmatic gives the agency more access to direct-publisher audience guarantees, it also enables flexibility for the agency to, for example, “partner direct with The Weather Channel and a creative tool like Flite to build dynamic creative based on data inputs TWC is providing,” Kienast said. “I think you will see some big leaps, especially in the CPG space, in the next 12 months in programmatic creative.”