Smart Ads: The future of ad evolution is here

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Why guess what ads will work when you can know for sure?

Advertising has long been considered an art form, with awards celebrating compelling and iconic ads in a range of formats. Part of the allure in advertising has always been in part the mystery of why some advertisements become the gold standard while others fall flat – but when it comes to your business, that mystery is a liability.

Fortunately, advances in data and technology can bring more clarity to which ads will be effective, giving you a much clearer path to success than advertisers who came before you.

A more intelligent way to advertise

Evolving with the rapid pace of technology, today’s ads hold the promise – and the power – of effectively knowing which ads will convert viewers to buyers, as well as just what makes those ads successful, down to the smallest details.

Imagine crafting your next advertising campaign with full confidence that it will be successful, knowing that every element, from the words to the colors, has been optimized for your intended audience.

Imagine comparing different ad versions and knowing which will perform the best even before you hit 'publish'. Imagine being able to continuously refine your ads, staying on top of trends and deteriorating campaigns so that the advertisements you send out will always be the most effective ones.

This is the promise on which smart ads deliver.

What are smart ads?

Using the latest developments in artificial intelligence and automation, smart ads turn the ambiguous and highly subjective process of advertising into one that is surprisingly predictable and far more efficient.

Very few are taking advantage of these technologies to lift the cloud of advertising’s subjectivity with real data and intelligent systems. A recent survey of marketers by Wakefield Research revealed that while 77% of marketers were convinced that AI is a critical trend in the industry, 90% said that they weren’t currently using it. That means the vast majority of marketers are still approaching advertising from a reactive perspective – making changes to design and content after an ad has been published and campaign data has come back in.

The key to smarter ads

While that may sound more complicated than your current campaign creation process, it’s the technology that does all of the hard work. Smarter ads make it easier for you to publish ads that you know will convert visitors to loyal customers, while automation tools make more efficient use of your time. When it comes to crafting truly intelligent campaigns, there are four critical components to understand: data, AI or machine learning, automation and creative relevance.

Data

The backbone of any intelligent ad campaign is the data that you feed into the process at the very beginning. A larger body of information to work with may give you a better chance to pull out insights that will help you craft compelling ads. However, the quantity of information alone is not sufficient to ensure your success, quality of data is critical to effectively using intelligent advertising. Beginning with faulty or incomplete data can introduce bias or errors into the process that will plague your campaigns from start to finish.

Today’s technology makes it easier not only to collect a wealth of information but also to ensure that it accurately reflects on your target audience, industry, and ad campaigns. As that amount of data available to you and other marketers continues to grow, properly analyzing that data grows even more important.

According to recent research, although only 30% of marketers believe advertising has become more important in their marketing efforts, 79% stated that data analysis has taken on more prominence. Artificial Intelligence both provides those valuable insights and applies them to your advertising campaigns.

AI and machine learning

Machine learning is a specific category of artificial intelligence that involves computer programs using algorithms to continue to learn and advance on their own when presented with new data. These computer programs can then apply these insights to new situations and for making predictions. These predictions are especially useful when it comes to creating ads in which you can have confidence.

In particular, insights and performance estimates offered by machine learning can help you meet that ultimate marketing goal of right message, right time, right person. Marketers who use predictive analytics are twice as likely to accurately identify their high-value customers and to target them with the right message. Machine learning can also provide ongoing insights, allowing you to stay on top of changes in your core audience and ad performance and continuously refine your campaigns to stay relevant.

Automation

Another recent development in information and advertising technology, automation has influenced several aspects of the advertising process. Programmatic systems apply algorithms to make real-time bids on ad inventory for you, using your settings (and data insights) to display your ads to the right customers on the right websites.

Compared to manual bidding on ad space, this automation is a clear time-saving tool. It also has two other advantages that make your campaigns more effective: better targeting and lower overall advertising cost.

The power of automation is much more precise in selecting the right places to display ads than one individual could be. And programmatic ad bidding means less of your advertising budget is spent on underperforming ads.

Creative relevance

Smarter advertising is not just about a better understanding and targeting of your core audience. It also involves ensuring that your ads have creative relevance for the customers that you want to reach.

AI and data collection tools can provide insights on the right colors, words, and symbols to use in your ads, putting those details together in a way that speaks to your target leads and encourages sales. Smarter ads also help you continue to refine and improve the effectiveness of each ad campaign.

Smart ad benefits

There is a wide range of significant benefits to deploying smart ads as part of your marketing process, starting with lifting the ambiguity around the ads and creative elements that will result in the most conversions.

The use of intelligent tools will save you time at several points in the process, from market and audience research to programmatic ad building and ongoing campaign optimization.

Smart ads also represent a more intelligent use of financial and time resources. As you are only publishing the ads predicted to succeed and deploying them where they will best reach your ideal customers.

Winner of Facebook’s 2016 Innovator of the Year, ReFUEL4 is the world’s leading data-driven creative platform, delivering creatives from 10,000 global designers backed by predictive AI and automation technology.

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Alexis Ng

Alexis Ng is marketing manager at ReFUEL4.

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