Disruptive technological advancements in display advertising have opened a wealth of options for marketers. They can optimise as never before by running personalized, cost-effective, scalable campaigns, in real time.
In the fast-paced world of online advertising, enhanced targeting can generate real time decision making and thus create performance uplift.
Making sense of this real time revolution is a formidable task. My goal in this series is to help marketers put things in place while offering practical advice. In part one, I discussed real time bidding (RTB).
Now, part two is dedicated to dynamic creative.
We've certainly come a long way in ad design: from manual, one creative fits all (I'll not mention you-know-which series about Madison Ave.), through template-based real time dynamic creative, to automated platforms not bound by fixed templates.
But before we jump ahead, let's examine dynamic creative. After all, it's only been around for a couple of years. Dynamic Creative is where art and science come together, where the power of machines blends with the creativity of people to make a punching impact.
Dynamic data technology, in a nutshell, is the ability to generate, in real time and on a per-impression basis, personalized ads with a unique layout, product/s and messaging for each user.
Once a call to an ad server is made (via programmatic or non-programmatic media buying), advanced, machine-learning product recommendation algorithms roll into action.
Numerous parameters are added to the equation: some basic, such as last viewed product/category or popular items chosen by other users, and others complex, such as:
- Statistical correlations between products viewed and subsequently bought (whether by the user and/or the 'crowd').
- Dynamic ad sequencing (automatic generation of different creative variations throughout user's conversion path depending on interactions with advertiser's site).
This is followed by dynamic creative optimization, as real time decisions are made regarding promotional messages, pricing, colors, call-to-action buttons etc. Numerous attributes via multiple templates result in millions of banner variations.
This is where the human touch does wonders, sprouting creativity to come up with innovative ideas to that result in strong brand impact.
In this context, it's important to remember that disruptive technologies have taken us to the next level, BUT, people and human creativity will always play a pivotal role.
As Facebook VP of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson was recently quoted by AdExchanger:
Ideas matter more now than they ever have, no matter how much data we all have; no matter how many algorithms you want to look at across the different sites; no matter how many things have become automated - the truth is big ideas still dominate.
Inspiring creative is mainly associated with branding and upper funnel campaigns, but much less so when it comes to direct response campaigns. This however can change. Lower funnel creatives could be just as stunning.
It's important to note however that dynamic data technology does have some limitations when it comes to creative, since direct response banners must be able to show hundreds of different products, title lengths and other unique messages and attributes.
It's a well-documented fact that personalized, relevant content generates a substantial uplift in performance (we have even seen it climb to as much as 14X, when comparing personalized retargeting and non-targeted campaigns. A tenfold increase is common).
On top of personalization, real time also plays a major factor in performance.
Highly efficient process
Constant testing of numerous layouts, messages and products is essential for performance. By leveraging dynamic creative and semi-automated platforms, this can be done in scale and at a fraction of cost compared to manual design.
Driving incremental sales
A crucial part of the product recommendation process is to encourage cross-sells and up-sells. When users purchase products they did not previously view, the result is incremental sales.
Taking it forward
Make sure the provider you choose can adapt based on live metrics while taking into account the advertiser's up-to-date inventory data and promotional preferences. Clicking on a banner only to find out the product is not in stock is the last thing you want.
Skills set one
It takes smart engineers to develop smart product recommendation algorithms that will help you drive incremental sales, while optimizing to find the best performing banner among infinite variations.
Skills set two
It takes creative people to come up with innovative ideas and creative designers to make sure ads look stunning. But, it's important to remember that the creative is only a means, not a goal. The goal is conversions.
Flexibility: Working with templates is common but make sure your provider can also customize a creative that works best for you.
What's next in dynamic creative?
Some exciting innovation awaits us with semi-automated and automated design platforms, bigger and better next generation ad formats and the latest buzzword in the industry – responsive design. But that will be covered in a future post.
To sum up…
In today's advertising eco-system, there are companies that specialize in creative, mainly agencies, and there are data companies specializing in, well, data. All too often, agencies' data teams are disconnected or at best partially connected to creative teams.
The right side and the left side are part of the same brain! Taking the best of art (agency-standard creative) and the best of science (dynamic data technology) will impact your brand and lift the performance of your campaigns.
Stay tuned for the final article in the series devoted to real time messaging...