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How Creative Responsibilities Are Coming To Tech And Media Agencies


dcoimgWhen many creative agencies failed to pivot into mobile, tech and media companies converged on their own solutions.

“Creative agencies were disinterested in making experiences for mobile,” said James Chandler, mobile director for the GroupM agency Mindshare. After all, app-oriented mobile campaigns aren’t built around flashy art or high-production videos.

While this mentality frustrated him (“I would relish the fact that you could build campaigns to adapt to their environment and context, not just a single ad you send out linearly for TV or the web,” Chandler said), the creative slack is also a major opportunity for media agencies.

Startups like Persado and Celtra have hit the market with new creative automation dashboards, and they emphasize that they’re tool providers, not competition for creative agencies. But those tools are being used by agencies that are slowly encroaching into creative territory.

Mindshare and Opera Mediaworks, for instance, both use Celtra as an ad development tool and a creative-tech hybrid offering for brands.

Last summer Opera Mediaworks unveiled a programmatic creative shop, dubbed Opera House, focused on honing creative for its campaigns. Opera House doesn’t represent a revenue push into the creative world, said Mike Owen, the mobile marketing company’s EVP of North American sales, but is simply an acknowledgement that formatting, environment and context often dictate a mobile campaign’s performance – far more than creative content.

Developing the formats and dynamic elements “is not a profit center,” said Owen. “The focus is still making money on the media.” But to hit performance goals, he claimed mobile optimization and automation has to happen at the creative level, not at the ad-serving level that’s routine for desktop programmatic.

One recent Opera House campaign involved an interactive game where users can tilt the screen to maneuver a puzzle or maze, and which can then offer more difficult levels for the next viewing. The ability to dynamically serve a sequence of ads, or to optimize around things like the weather, a user’s mobile device (Android vs. iOS) and location, can only come at the media and tech layer, as opposed to the ideation and production stages.

Opera Mediaworks isn’t the only media agency making this push. Around the same time Opera House came out of testing in 2015, GroupM’s Xaxis launched Light Reaction, a mobile performance marketing subsidiary responsible for dynamic creative optimization, aka “programmatic creative.”

“The tech and media world has applied its data science obsession to the ad-serving side of the industry,” said Chandler. “But it’s incumbent on us to now apply that to the creative and artistic side as well.”


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