There’s a Gap In Ad Creative Planning. It’s Time To Close It

Jackie Saplicki, global senior director of tech consulting and architecture at Media.Monks

Data-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 Jackie Saplicki, global senior director of tech consulting and architecture at Media.Monks.

Digital media buyers and planners operate with four out of the “Five Ws.” They know who is seeing what ad, and they know when and where they are seeing it. What’s often missing, however, is why the ad works. The key to this critical missing information lies in the simplest of places: naming conventions and tagging.

Why do we need to know why? If we know who, what, where and when, can’t we replicate those conditions to get similar results? Yes, but knowing why an ad is working will improve performance and inform future campaigns in ways traditional analytics cannot. By considering an ad’s key qualities – imagery, color, objects and mood – the right ad is more likely to land in front of the right person.

Let’s say you have six creative assets for a chocolatier client during Easter. The ads are all the same size with yellow backgrounds. However, some ads feature people and others don’t. Some have chocolate bunnies, while others have chocolate eggs. The file names only include basic information. Early in the campaign, two banners are outperforming the others. By all means, switch it up and focus your efforts on those ads. But why did those ads do better? 

Was it the bunnies? The eggs? The people? Understanding why certain creative elements are resonating better than others informs smart decision-making during the campaign, unlocks audience insights and leads to better design choices for the next campaign.

A gap in creative planning

What’s sorely missing in today’s media planning is the connection between creative interaction and media performance. For a targeted digital campaign, there are countless reasons why one ad might outperform another. This is at the core of some of the most pressing challenges facing digital marketers today: Audiences are more fragmented, the media landscape is more complicated, privacy laws and regulations are taking effect and there’s a growing number of partners to manage and connect. 

Working with meaningless file names instead of creative tagging brings on a pernicious lack of meaningful metadata. In other words, there’s a blind spot.

What’s more, crucial insights from these digital testing grounds are paramount before moving to bigger media buys like a big TV spot.

Most companies already have what they need to bring their file names up to speed. They just have to build the connective tissue between creative and media data. 

  1. Adapt and enable a creative strategy

The first step is building an efficient data collection system and governance measures. First, standardize informative asset naming conventions and back that up with a descriptive metadata tagging system that describes visuals, moods, emotions and actions. (Often this data already exists but becomes “data exhaust” that doesn’t make it to the media department.) Then, to improve production efficiency, incorporate continuous governance that ensures production partners adhere to processes and tools.

  1. Integrate creative data

The next step is connecting creative to meaningful business outcomes. A multidimensional view of creative assets tied to performance analytics brings a new set of insights into how the customer interacts with a brand. 

Feeding creative KPIs back into production systems streamlines creative effectiveness, democratizes insights and accelerates campaign deployment – including dynamic creative production. This means teams work smarter and use the tools at their disposal to their fullest potential.

  1. Activate insights

The first two steps in this process prepare creative data for advanced analysis, power machine learning and optimize feedback loops. But how can brands actually use this data? This requires intelligent, machine-readable cues that lead to measurable activation and powerful brand optimizations.  

By tagging and mapping creative data against a clustering model, “red light, green light” data emerges. As the name implies, this data dictates whether to continue or stop using certain creative. A simple matrix will map all the creative to reveal commonalities and demonstrate if increased engagement is due to white chocolate bunnies performing better among female audiences.

Humans can guess why a campaign works, but true insights come from determining the statistical impact of creative data. These insights can significantly improve performance using personalization, targeting, dynamic ad creation and more. 

The upshot for marketers

As digital advertising brings media and creative departments back together, why a consumer interacts with a brand is the missing data point for analysts. When marketing teams understand why customers are responding to specific creative, they’ll have a better understanding of the customers themselves.

Follow Media.Monks (@MeetTheMonks) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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