Where are you as you read this?
Is it sunny? Are you picking up the kids from nursery? Maybe you’re by a pool in Cannes?
Whatever your surroundings, there’s a good chance you’re on a mobile device. You’ll be in the midst of some prevailing weather conditions and this article is competing for your attention with a number of things: your calendar, a recent comment on Instagram, some unread emails and a request to fulfill some kind of mission in a computer game.
Take a moment to soak in your surroundings and then consider that almost everything about your current context could be the basis for some targeting criteria for one of the major digital platforms, particularly Google and Facebook. Amazing when you think about it.
10 years ago, we’d insert your advertising message into the specific medium: ‘Hello ITV, here is my TV ad’.
Five years ago the mediums became the message: ‘Hello Facebook, put my ads in your newsfeed. Just by advertising with you I am already making a point’’.
Now, messages adapt to moments: ‘Hey Google, when it’s hot I want to show this and when the pollen levels increase, I want to show that’.
We take this adaptive approach because should you happen to be on a sun lounger in Cannes, the data suggests that personalised ads, in your case featuring packshots in tropical climes, will generate better impact whatever your objective. Content is King. But content that adapts to your immediate context is apparently divine.
The problem is knowing where to start and (importantly) where to stop. This article aims to help you understand how you can achieve personalisation of your creative without getting a headache.
Put creative at the heart of a dynamic strategy:
Your creative is the main interface you have between your brand and your consumer. It’s important investing in adaptive websites and turning the cranks of an email strategy but the volume of your efforts to make marcomms more dynamic should start a key question of ‘how are you going to make your advertising more relevant to people’. If most brands are honest with themselves, the answer to this question is to change the way they write the creative brief.
On-board a specialist partner
Like any emergent sector, dynamic creative is rife with skullduggery. Identifying the creative bottlenecks in a process which is complicated by competing big agency agendas, service providers and measurement philosophies can be challenging. This becomes less biased when working with specialists. A classic problem programmatic buying teams will relate to is the pain of aligning the creative reporting set-up in the ad server to the targeting set-up in the buying platform. How you solve this is pretty straightforward, but it would be amazing to review the myriad of responses there might be to this problem. This is just one example of several extremely time-consuming and expensive man-power tasks that are done in the creative space. Tasks that can, and should, be automated with technology today.
Be about controlled experimentation
The key thing to understand here is to be hypothesis-driven. Lean on the data you have about what’s worked in the past as well as your professional instincts to write a hypotheses for future action. Your creative message will land with people. Dynamic delivery will reveal not just what is landing well but in the case of some partners, why a particular message is landing well. This can guide your hand as you write future hypotheses for further action. Each creative message is an opportunity to learn where to invest more or less in the future.
Measure impact fairly
How you can derive real business insights from your hypotheses comes down to correct measurement. For example, when using live data to enhance a campaign, the question isn’t “does warm weather perform better than cold weather”, it’s “does using weather data to change our messaging positively impact the performance of our campaign?”. An important distinction to make.
The importance of creative is going to become more important as a lever for optimsation over time. Not less. Media levers, that’s to say budget, audience and bid will underpin business norms. But creative will determine love for brands and really game-changing business gains. Consider that already that as a function of your budget and your bid, you can use basic arithmetic to determine how big your audience needs to be to generate your desired outcome.
But understanding the role of creative has two main implications. The first is about infrastructure. The second is about craft. In his article Madmen to Madtech, Mathew Creamer talked about investment in machines now being the priority for brands. Reporting structures, particularly those for digital creative tend to be a little archaic. Real-time solutions for insight are required to bring infrastructure in line with the real-time optimsation of your media levers.
Finally, with craft, we can for the first time ever use tools to unpack what this really means for brands. The IPA have for years cross-referenced the most awarded ads and cross with their own metric of ‘Key Business Effects’. It’ll be no surprise the most awarded campaigns have the best effects, but the big mystery with ads that have been awarded is that more often than not, no one could tell you why they were effective!
That’s all about to change.
Janne Smith, Sales Lead