Programmatic Requires A Dynamic Approach To Creative

paullongoupdatedData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Paul Longo, managing director at Accordant Media.

Every brand has a checklist when it comes to its programmatic media strategy.

Right time – check. Right place – check. Right message – not so much.

Today, marketer reticence to embrace new technology and processes for delivering creative is the glaring weak point in the supply chain from concept to delivery. Until creative becomes more nimble with real-time flexibility, the true promise of “scaled personalization” will not be fully realized.

Picture this: You’ve worked hard to develop a full-funnel media strategy to accelerate individuals through the customer journey. You create a sophisticated audience targeting approach that leverages first-party purchase data, site activity and various behavioral, demographic and geographic attributes. You now have a host of segments and microsegments, designed to target consumers at precisely the right moment in their journeys only to come to the troubling realization that you don’t have enough creative executions to fulfill the entire range needed in a scalable personalized manner.

This particular programmatic pain point is mainly the consequence of legacy practices in creative development and approval processes that have not really evolved in more than 15 years. Advertisers have been programmed to approve every creative iteration in static form, making it virtually impossible to revise iterations on the fly when real-time data-driven media monitoring indicates that changes are needed. Dynamic creative provides advertisers with the fluidity to pipe in changes based on seasonality, competitive activity and industry trends, all in real time. Another great advantage of dynamic creative is that it enables more seamless, real-time multivariate testing.

Considering that this static creative model has already been rendered obsolete in favor of dynamic creative insertions in more text-based digital advertising tactics, such as search and social, there is no reasonable excuse to delay further in adopting the same method for display. In search and social, literally thousands of custom ads are created using various creative elements and dynamic ad copy insertion. It can be argued that this has been the driving force for their success. And even now, native ads are using dynamic creative in-feed, in-ad or within recommendation widgets to try to scale native programmatic.

That same dynamic creative approach needs to be extended to display and video now. Here is where advertisers should start.

Integrated Solution  

An advertiser’s dynamic creative solution could be right under their nose. Now is the time for advertisers to revisit the dynamic creative options that are already pre-integrated into their programmatic activation platform. Aligning creative messaging with all available audience segments in their DMP is the first step. They’ll want to use this DMP connection point to create a decision tree that dictates the most logical audience-creative pairings.

Explore Standalone Solutions

There are a host of standalone dynamic creative solution providers available. In selecting a partner, advertisers should create a scorecard that is tailored specifically to their needs to find the best fit. Integration into their current tech stack is of supreme importance but other key partner scorecard criteria could include product feed capability, message sequencing, ad serving, social capabilities, auto optimization, dashboard and usability offering and work-flow automation, including the ability to organize multiple images, text and sizes. If using a dynamic creative provider’s auto-optimization capabilities, advertisers will need to ensure that this feature complements and does not interfere with the algorithms used by their current programmatic media buyer.

System Management 

Many advertisers struggle with the decision of whether dynamic creative optimization should live with either the media or creative team. The answer could be either, but lock-step coordination between both teams is a must in each scenario. Seamless coordination will lead to smarter creative execution, better insights and more buyer operational efficiency. On the flip side, a lack of coordination will lead to friction between the creative tools and buying tools, analytic uncertainty and inefficient processes.

Still not convinced that dynamic creative is a programmatic must? Let me frame it like this: No proprietor of a brick-and-mortar retail space would speak to a store visitor at the cash register in the same way that they’d speak to someone who’s searching in an aisle for a particular item. They also wouldn’t approach a customer looking at $3,000 HDTVs in the same manner as someone looking for socks.

So then why would anyone use the same message online while speaking to different people with specific, personal needs? Brands should apply online the same individualized treatment that is a bedrock of their in-store environments.

Follow Accordant Media (@Accordant) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. This is a FANTASTIC summary piece on the current state of dynamic creative.

    In my experience, low adoption of dynamic creative isn’t solely the result of client workflow or vendor selection challenges. Even with enthusiastic buy-in from the marketing team and a perfect dynamic creative vendor, most brands lack the data infrastructure and internal know-how to connect dynamic ad units to the “data pipes” that are going to drive eye-popping value. This would include CRM data, website analytics, media attribution data, and so forth. And the investment required to connect those dots is significant — the kind of evolution that typically takes years of tilting at windmills and false starts.

    To illustrate what I mean: the main reason dynamic creative has seen such rapid and massive adoption among e-commerce vendors is that the e-comm vertical represents the PERFECT client base for a dynamic creative vendor. E-comm advertisers already have websites and back-end infrastructures that are 100% data-driven and integration-friendly.

    However, once you venture beyond dynamic e-comm product ads, there aren’t very many clients with the resources, infrastructure, and know-how to execute on a dynamic creative concept. Not to mention the vendor and agency buy-in you usually need to get a project off the ground. Clients’ vendors and agencies are often very attached to a playbook that may date back decades, and those vendors and agencies may lack the incentive or ability to invest in some wacky new Rube Goldberg dynamic ad project that deviates from or cannibalizes their core run-rate billings (i.e., the source of all their profits).

    This is changing with the rapid adoption of marketing automation and the expanded role of CRM platforms beyond that of glorified rolodexes, but seeing as how even basic marketing automation is still a pretty a new concept to most marketing orgs, I would imagine it will take several more years for client-side infrastructure and expertise to catch up to what’s currently possible with dynamic creative.