Is There A Divide Between Media And Creative?

The Creative“the creative” is a column focused on the creative side of digital marketing.

Today’s column is written by Barry Lowenthal, President of kirshenbaum bond senecal + partnersThe Media Kitchen.

The original thesis presented to me by was that technological innovation is occurring on the media buying side but there is less innovation on the creative side. In fact, according to, there may be a rapidly widening gulf.

I’m not sure this thesis is entirely accurate.

Although my perspective is shaped by my own agency situation, and not based on an industry-wide survey or vantage point, I’ve noted that media buyers have actually grown closer to the creatives as innovative technologies help bring ideas to life.

The shift from buying media placements direct from sites to buying audiences and individual impressions in real-time on public and private inventory sources represents one of the most important media buying and targeting shifts the industry has seen in a long, long time. This shift has not only changed the way media folks think about media buying, it’s also forced the creative to think about segmentation, relevance, and messaging, which directly affects content creation.

A close association between creative and media allows ideas to be brought to life much easier than if media didn’t have strong creative agency ties. In fact, I’m not sure how innovative digital ideas are sold without easily being able to show how they would work with gorgeous mocked up assets.

One way for an agency to be successful is to insure there is no divide. The innovations in media buying, particularly around targeting, have created opportunities to improve relevance by bringing the message creators closer to the media buyers.

While there has certainly been a lot of innovation in the media buying side, mostly due to automating much of the bidding and targeting functions, there has been less automation on the creative side. And I’m not entirely sure the creative side can be entirely automated or even become as automated as the media side. There is the art side to our business, which still requires right brain thinking. Right brain thinking continues to be difficult to outsource or automate.

When talk about audience buying and the opportunity around bidding on individual impressions originally surfaced, it was quickly apparent that this dynamic would enable the delivery of individual messages based on various behaviors and actions. And while dynamic creative deployment can be useful, there still remains the need to create the basic images from a brand idea. It’s still too costly to send discrete and individual images to every single impression. I’m also not convinced that the micro-relevant message will markedly improve effectiveness.

But this opportunity has created a new way of thinking around creating relevance, which brings together media buyers, creatives, data analysts and traders together in a team. Such teams have never existed before. Most agencies just don’t have this collection of people so there will be a divide. But for those that do, instead of a divide, there is opportunity to drive even further collaboration and message/media relevance.

Follow Barry Lowenthal (@barryl530), The Media Kitchen (@theMediaKitchen) and (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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  1. better_creative

    The question about creative is how do users consume online banner ads. Banners are still designed like a TV ad with the 15 sec intro animation to a static end frame with one button. There is available data out there that support ~50% of clicks can happen almost a minute after the ad has been displayed on the page. I completely agree the creative idea is 95% of the success, but the banners with the static end frames have got to change. We are still trafficking the same 30k flash banners with one clickTAG just like we were 10 years ago. The gap is getting larger.

  2. Really like and appreciate your message here, spot on from my experience working with Tumri over the past few years (f.d.: I am an investor and was an early sr. executive there).

    A lot of people in the industry don’t understand that Dynamic creative technology can do a LOT more to advance digital marketing than retargeting or micro-targeting of display ads, for example:

    – multi-channel campaign deployment and management: DCO can automate a lot of busy work required to deploy and manage multi-platform, multi-device campaigns, reducing cost and time-to-market. As a result, it opens the door for more creative multi-channel concepts that don’t have to cost too much.

    – deeper insight: some DCO providers offer extremely granular data on how consumers engaged with each creative recipe, product, offer mix, format, etc. This insight is critical for small-format applications like mobile and in-app ads.

    – content delivery / messaging: the same tech that delivers custom display ads can also be used to deliver content that customers have actually ASKED FOR. Want that coupon delivered to you when you walk in the store? why should you have to log into Groupon or Foursquare? why shouldn’t it come to you, regardless of the app or device you are using? DCO makes ubiquitous “targeted content” possible across platforms.

    – post-click response: the same technology that powers dynamic ads can be used to create micro-targeted, customized landing pages. This has been done on at least a few recent large campaigns, with huge measurable benefits.

    Examples can be found on Tumri’s website under ‘case studies’.

    Back to your original point – when we finally get around to applying recent advances in media buying with the larger DCO capabilities described above, I think we can really impact the way brands relate to their customers and prospects – to make them more meaningful and valuable (but hopefully not too creepy).

    With all the recent talk about “the death of the web” and “the rise of proprietary apps/platforms”, DCO may end up being a requirement for creative shops – if just to deal with overwhelming number of formats, platforms and devices coming online now.

    Sorry if this sounds like an advertisement for Tumri, but that is my primary experience base in this field.

  3. Relevance Police

    30K/40K Flash banners are woefully inadequate to convey any message. Similarly it is silly to think that a single clickTAG can encompass user intent.

    Some of these restrictions are so antiquated too. I wonder if anybody looks at the payload of any website when they download it – many, many megabytes of stuff. And this is true of publishers, who complain, bicker and block rendering 100K of advertising into an IFRAME, which by definition does not affect the page rendering sequence. And then one tool like RightMedia’s called Media Guard which cannot distinguish between compressed and uncompressed payload. A decent image is at least 15K with the right resolution, and with interactive and personalized ads one needs logic, fonts and ancillary content. So if you are coming at it from the advertiser/agency side – you must use the power of your purse to demand that these restrictions be lifted ‘cos they don’t make sense.

    Disagree with the point that even with dynamic creatives, one has too much work to do for personalization. Not true. Many approaches exist to make this happen at scale.

    This is in the end, all about scale.

  4. I have to wholeheartedly agree that the ad units and creative restrictions we have in this business are asinine. With a 24″ screen a 300X200 takes up less then 10% of the page, how can we be creative in a such a dismal little slot? Or given the creative restrictions on what we can run our tiny little slot, I am amazed anything works. We need bigger more rich ads if we are going to succeed.