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CMPs: the way to make a Wanamaker happy

By Charlie Ashe, Sales

July 26, 2019 | 6 min read

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Nielsen have spoken. 47% of your sales will be down to your creative.

John Wanamaker

John Wanamaker

For something so important, particularly in the digital realm, it makes you wonder why the current solution is for brands to embrace a labyrinthian martech landscape and its accompanying maze of acronyms.

Spare a thought then for brands operating across markets and regions where language becomes a massive multiplier on creative delivery needs. What about those marketers with multiple brands and multiple markets? Most would probably admit they’re happy if they’ve simply managed to produce something and hit their delivery date. Perish the thought of actually lifting the hood on this shaky structure and checking what’s underneath.

There’s good reason for this.

Firstly, the flow of information from creative agency brief, ideation, digital execution, production, localisation and actual delivery is primarily one way.

Creative bods are tasked with getting something workable into the media agencies’ hands by day ’X’ to accommodate trafficking service level agreements. This is a constant and overlapping process. A campaign barely ends before another starts. For many brands, tens or hundreds of campaigns will pass through the timeframe of one creative campaign’s complete journey. Think of it as a production line, it may not be flattering, but it isn’t wildly far from the truth.

Post-delivery, is it reasonable to think these same bods will solicit feedback? Despite all the goodwill in the world, the answer is probably ‘no’. Not when they have other work with a shorter deadline waiting for them. When they have multiple dependencies: the brand, the central digital team, the local market team, and the media agency to name a few. All of them like carriages of a train, which would pile up if we were to reverse the direction of travel.

This means creative insight is desperately lacking. If it does exist, it is likely in the language of media agencies, not creatives. To put this to the test, have a chat with your creative director about the performance of a 728x90 banner. You may be disappointed.

So, we can agree the advertising creative ecosystem consists of:

  • A complex one-way process, with many stakeholders
  • Overlapping deadlines
  • No meaningful feedback loop for creative insight

While creative insight is lacking, the quantifiable nature of media levers allows us to neatly resolve questions related to ‘how much should I spend with site x, on retargeting or on audience y?’

Client-specific attribution models can valorise the cost to benefit analysis still further. These models may not be perfect but at least they provide directional feedback and Mr Wanamaker can finally rest in peace! Or can he?

Amazingly, 98 years after his death, his famous quote, “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half” still chimes. While we can put a value on media levers, valorising creative is much harder.

But there is hope for marketers wanting to see the full picture and pop that hood.

CMPs (Creative Management Platforms) and DCO (Dynamic Creative Optimisation) are used fairly widely, though often their strategic imperative is, at best, ‘tactical’. There is technology, and there are applied technology solutions to problems, it takes work to get these firing. However, if done correctly the advantages are huge. So how should marketers take a more strategic view of these opportunities? Let’s start with the basics:

What is a Creative Management Platform?

A SaaS technology which consolidates the processes involved in the conception and implementation of creative into ads buying tools (an ad server or native platform like FaceBook ads manager).

What is Dynamic Creative Optimisation?

The practice of using data-led optimisation of creative elements. For example, there are three ‘Call to Actions’ for a campaign. Rather than creating three ads, the core creative remains the same where the ‘Call to Action’ is deployed in rotation. Based on what is working, delivery will be weighted to top performers.

When combined what can they provide?

Creative consistency: dynamic elements can make a custom creative, that will always look and feel the same.

Variants not banners: because of the above, all elements can still be used to personalise your messaging.

Improved workflow: rather than trying to run a production line via email and dropbox, teams can use a single stack to monitor roles, timeframes and deadlines.

Greater output: 5 images, 10 headlines, 4 CTAs means a total of 200 permutations.

This means more personalisation and greater impact.

Data-driven messaging: all those data points like days of the week, geo, audiences, etc which we see across media can now be used to deliver creative variations.

Better performance: variants can be connected to impressions, clicks and conversions. Creative can drive performance - up to a 70% improvement.

Optimised production: data flows both ways. As we know what worked in the creative by element, this means we don’t have to speak format, we can speak asset. So now, not only is your production output being delivered efficiently and optimised to performance, but that same data can connect performance numbers to what is being produced…

And finally…

We can measure the value of creative work!

If only Mr Wanamaker were around now. He’d revel in breaking down the individual components of ‘creative’ which we rely on for 47% of our sales. If only Mr Wanakamer could work with Ad-Lib.

Charlie Ashe, Sales, Ad-Lib


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