LendingTree Scales Dynamic Creative To Juice Its Display Ad Returns

LendingTree, an online lead-generation exchange for consumer loans, is hoping to prove that more informed creative can be one of the main drivers of real-time advertising performance.

The company spent two years evaluating dynamic creative optimization (DCO) technologies and is now scaling out the program under the startup RevJet, said Josh Eldridge, LendingTree’s senior marketing director.

“You can have the smartest machines and the best funnel, and without the right creative you can only do so much with algorithms,” he said.

The company doesn’t employ a traditional agency for media buying or for creative – it just uses platform tools, Eldridge said. So it’s easier for LendingTree to connect its tech than it is for other businesses.

LendingTree has another strong use case for DCO, since it can dramatically increase margins on CPM-based buys through improved click-through rates.

Many brands buy digital media on cost-per-acquisition or cost-per-action metrics, which shift risk to the publisher by demanding meaningful clicks but yield a margin to the publisher for conversions, Eldridge said. “We like to fix our costs by choosing a CPM model and then we get to enjoy the rewards from our ability to convert.”

And DCO helps improve those click-through rates by extending the number of audiences a campaign can target.

LendingTree previously may have built a segment of, say, men over 40 who were found on Yahoo News, and targeted that audience with one creative, Eldridge said. “That’s an audience you can serve one creative on and it can perform well, but what you find when you look beneath the surface is there are people there on their phones or on a Mac, people on different browsers,” he said, all of which could be strong determining factors of creative performance.

Browser use in particular is a feature LendingTree is splitting out for different creative, he said, as well as testing optimization around suburban or urban locations and different times of day. These dimensions can be “huge differentiator(s) in audience psychographics and, thus, performance.”

When data-driven online advertisers discuss optimization, they typically mean media optimization – around inventory sources, supply chain partners and formats – said RevJet founder and CEO Mitchell Weisman. “They rarely reflect on how or whether creative is driving their ROI.”

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