If an ad isn’t good, it doesn’t matter how good the targeting is

With the debate around ad blocking raging, it’s easy to forget that the past 12 months has seen plenty of display ads to be proud of. Proximity’s Cannes winner for the Economist is one of these and it therefore feels justified for the agency’s Asia region managing director Richard Fraser to call out bad creative.

The Economist: Raising Eyebrows and Subscriptions from ProximityLondon on Vimeo.

Speaking to The Drum at Adfest in Thailand this week, Fraser said: “When you dig under the hood, having data and creativity in one sentence can create an anxiety. Some people, particularly from the creative core, say they don’t buy it.

Some of that is coming from the fact that programmatic is dominant now and there are still some questions about the creative elements of programmatic. There are questions about how data can be used to contextually target people. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good you are at targeting someone, the content has got to be compelling, it’s got to be engaging and it’s got to drive a behaviour change. That’s how it delivers for the brand. So if the ad isn’t good, it doesn’t matter how good your targeting is,” he argued.

Fraser also presented at the event and was arguing for a wider view on data and creativity, given that programmatic is just the point at which data is used for the delivery of the ad. For Fraser, the focus on programmatic is clouding opinions for the creative community and opportunities are being missed.

“The debate exists because haven't seen data leveraged to great effect and because programmatic is the big topic but where I focus is that there’s a much broader spectrum of opportunity for creativity where data and technology is playing a role. Not only better and deeper insights but data can make brand experiences better. Further, looking down to product design,it can actually inform the design of the products - in a sense of what we create as marcoms people,” he explained.

A key part of moving forward for Fraser is thinking about data earlier in the chain, rather than it being something that’s only applied to the media part of the puzzle. For this to happen, he believes better collaboration needs to happen between the different agency types.

“Ad blocking is display primarily, it’s just one medium and one side of this. But ad blocking is happening because a lot of the creative content isn’t compelling. It feels like a lot of the time they wash their hands of it because there’s good targeting, they may swap background out or change something and say ‘that’s creativity’, but i say it’s not. This could be the death of creativity in general. A lot of work could be solved by having creative and media agencies work together, I still think there is a disconnect,” he argued.

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Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte