Has the stage finally been set for programmatic creative?

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The phrase “programmatic creative” has been on everyone’s lips and on people’s minds for a while, but it might be that years from now, 2016 may be considered the year the industry pivoted to embrace the technology and methodology in a meaningful way.

Just last week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced the release of its Dynamic Content Ad Standard as the driving protocol to coalesce the digital ad industry around a common set of rules and best practices to bring consistency and coherence to the practice. Programmatic creative had previously been complicated but as it becomes the critical engine in data-driven, personalized marketing, the industry is in great need of a uniform standard. As Spongecell was an active co-author, I think I can speak for all the participants in the creation of this standard that the stage has now been set for the potential of programmatic creative to be fully realized.

What is programmatic creative?

Programmatic creative enables data and creative to work in tandem to tell a brand story more effectively with greater resonance through advertising technologies at scale with automation. This covers both ad production and creative optimization.

The release of the IAB Dynamic Content Ad Standard is timely because brands are starting to realize that with the availability of optimization technology, they can adjust their messaging, tactics and creative in individual ad units in a real-time consumer feedback loop. Advertising has traditionally been a push mechanism for marketers that was hard to measure and qualify in gathering consumer insights and reactions to their brands. But nowadays, a brand now has the chance to actually be an interactive storyteller with their customers instead of just a unidirectional narrator. That has enormous implications on marketers’ ability to engage, which, of course, has a positive impact on sales and other ROI.

The new IAB standard will hopefully be the roadmap and catalyst to best practices that will lead to increased relevance of each creative unit through data-driven personalized messaging across the entire funnel as the right ad will be served to the right person at the right time with lower operational costs for creative development. The ability to collect and apply first-party consumer data is unprecedented, making the brand-consumer feedback loop more dynamic and nuanced than it’s ever been. Now an advertiser can show different variations of an ad based on an individual’s weather or geography as well as first-party and third party data. As more parties adopt this standard, it will have an enormous impact on new customer prospecting.

Programmatic creative methodology, as it become more refined, will also make an even greater impact on remarketing efforts including connecting consumers to past shopping behavior and recommending products based on other purchases.

Enhanced Performance

The personalized messaging delivered at scale by programmatic creative technology has already made a powerful impact on campaign performance and brand perception. Clients running programmatic creative have seen an increase in in-store revenue, conversions as well as other KPIs such as engagement rate, website traffic and click-through rate. One supermarket chain saw a 7x multiplier effect in in-store profit as an example. When asked about the leading benefits of programmatic creative, 56 percent of senior marketers worldwide reported higher response and engagement rates and 47 percent registered more timely and relevant interactions (eMarketer, 2015). Similarly, 46 percent of polled consumers praised personalized ads for reducing irrelevant advertising (eMarketer, 2016).

Challenge and Opportunity

While the industry dynamic is trending in a positive manner as we push forward to maximize the effectiveness of data-driven creative advertising, there is still much work ahead. It's great to see some of the early adopters from the creative world really see the opportunity that data driven creative represents. There are still far too many creative folks who believe that data stifles creativity when in fact, it can actually assist and inspire it. There are also many brands and agencies, which have been slow to jump on board because of legacy technology and belief systems that are not easily eradicated. Or perhaps, they were all waiting for more 3rd-party validation of the efficacy of the programmatic creative practice. I hope that this new IAB Dynamic Content Ad Standard will be a catalyst for greater adoption and success.

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Ben Kartzman

Ben Kartzman is the CEO of Spongecell

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