Finding harmony between data and creative with dynamic creative optimization

Deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. It’s an ideal that marketers have long aspired to.

Historically, creative agencies have been exceptional at finding the message, and media agencies have been brilliant at finding the right time. However, as more marketers take control of their campaigns, they seek to align data and creativity with nonlinear customer journeys.

Cue dynamic creative optimization

Previously, dynamic creative optimization (DCO) was a novel concept enjoyed only by the largest brands and agencies. Today, the technology is available to more advertisers than ever, and many are exploring how data-driven creative can amplify the effectiveness of their campaigns while reviving creativity.

For some, the prospect of turning to DCO is an opportunity for creative-minded marketers to layer in the data they’ve been told is critical to their success, or that their executives have demanded. Instead of running series after series of exhausting A/B tests to refine messaging by arguably irrelevant segments, marketers leveraging DCO can set their campaign to autopilot, collecting insights and reports at whatever interval is convenient for their internal meetings.

For others, the performance numbers alone are reason enough to turn to DCO. For years, industry publications have been flooded with thought pieces and case studies on how data-driven creative can increase engagement rates, and for good reason. The performance lift DCO can deliver is true, and we’ve seen firsthand the performance lift advertisers enjoy when they deploy DCO into their campaigns.

Thus, it’s no surprise that a majority of marketers who have leveraged DCO agree that it has improved their ROI. It’s also no surprise that more and more marketers have been inquiring about and testing DCO campaigns in recent months as they chase the phenomenal results they’ve heard about.

DCO is not a magic bullet

But using DCO could benefit from a bit of fine tuning itself. As it stands, many advertisers have lost the creative forest for the data-driven trees, stifling both their message and its performance in the process.

Indeed, 70% of marketers struggle to create more compelling DCO units to better utilize the creative’s aesthetics. Why is this? Simply, as harmonious as the blend of data and creativity may seem, adoption of DCO has caused some discord in the natural tendencies of marketers.

In the never-ending quest to increase ad engagement, some marketers are undermining the very AI-powered DCO solution they are relying on.

Instead of trusting the AI to deliver a singular, dynamic, and impactful message to individuals in the moments that matter, marketers are hedging their bets. Ad builders are being misused. DCO templates meant to help marketers efficiently turn their product feeds into compelling ad units are being twisted to create ads crammed from corner to corner with excessive text and product placements.

It’s a sharp shift from what DCO was intended to do. Fortunately, it’s easy to get back on track.

How? It’s as simple as getting back to the root of what DCO was designed to do: deliver impactful, relevant messaging to the right person at the right time. To get there, marketers must tone down the impulse to deliver multiple — albeit relevant — messages at once, as the resulting ads are inevitably muted and discordant, driving little impact.

After all, deploying a DCO solution is not an excuse to say everything to everyone. It’s an opportunity to say exactly the right thing to each individual you reach.

So, as more and more marketers turn to DCO in 2019, we have a collective opportunity to make yet another sharp shift and ensure our dynamically optimized creatives don’t fall flat.

For marketers, it’s an opportunity to take a step back and ask themselves if they’re getting in the way of the very technology they’re deploying. For tech and agency partners, it’s an opportunity to be a strategic leader, to provide the sheet music for success and to guide one another against our own impulses to go off-key.

Jason Wulfsohn is chief operations officer and co-chairman of AUDIENCEX

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