It’s a very exciting time in our industry.

The innovations in programmatic media buying, the ability to use huge data sources to target ads more effectively, and the increasing dominance of mobile screens is driving big changes in how we plan, execute and deliver campaigns. 

This is particularly true for one of the final frontiers of innovation – the creative message. As the technology has evolved on both the data use and media buying sides, so to have the creative tactics that accompany them. 

So, here are the ways creative messages are being delivered dynamically, the types of clients using them and the best approaches to take, and what the future might look like as the innovation space hots up. 

Paid search

One of the first dynamic ad formats, which many approaches have built on the back of, is paid search.

The data point – the search term – drove the creative message. Advertisers drove innovation in both the creation and deployment of their paid search listing so they could deliver these dynamic ads at scale.

More recent innovations in the space have seen the paid search message augmented by ratings and reviews, maps, product images and social annotations to drive more engagement based on the user’s requirement.

To drive the best results, advertisers should be matching key augmented components with the right search triggers.

Contextual ads

Contextual ad

Early contextual ads were driven by the terms most dominant on a given page of content.

The original tactic was simple – show a standard creative message paired with the terms on the web page and assume it’s relevant.

This assumption, however, did lead to questionable placements of contextual ads.

But now, this tactic is evolving with the emergence of more data. Dynamic ad-servers now include additional live content into those ad experiences.

For example, a blog review on Rome may now invoke a travel ad with a message about Rome and the current temperature in the ad experience, driving a ‘wish-you-were-here?’ prompt.

This tactic can be very powerful, however, it’s worth noting it can be challenging to scale this tactic to reach lots of people. 

Travel and retail advertisers find this approach particularly attractive, where key site buys can now be further enhanced and made more personal, based on both site context and live data.

This is an opportunity for brands to use tactics more often associated with direct response campaigns to make their site buys more engaging and relevant. 

Dynamic retargeting

Another widely used dynamic creative tactic is dynamic retargeting. This is used extensively by direct response advertisers to re-engage users with products they’ve already looked at, in the hope of bringing them back to purchase.

This tactic has gained in sophistication as algorithms have become cleverer and as people make purchases across a wider range of connected devices, which requires ad experiences to match these platforms.

It’s a key part of the digital mix, particularly for sectors with large product and service offerings, strong site traffic and aggressive performance targets – such as travel and retail – who employ this tactic extensively.  

Rules-based dynamic creative

Another increasingly popular tactic, based on the premise that an advertiser can set up a series of rules to drive a different message based on outcomes. 

For example, this could be detecting the time of day, the browser someone is using, their geography or the order they see the messages in.

All these rules can trigger a creative response for a cluster of consumers who share those attributes, allowing for a more sophisticated messaging strategy than what advertisers were previously able to do.

Rules-based approaches have a wide application across both response-driven campaigns and brand activity.

Examples include automotive brands changing the closing message of a pre-roll ad to reflect a local car dealership based on geo-data, through to a takeaway chain showing a key lunch or dinner special based on the current time of day.

The downsides of this approach are it can be time consuming and a challenge to scale effectively.     

Also, to be most effective, it requires multivariate testing in which aspects of the creative such as colour, font and size are optimised towards a positive outcome, such as a click, lead or conversion.

This requires a significant amount of testing to be deemed significant and accurate so a sizeable budget may be required. 

User-centric messaging

This is an emerging area of dynamic creative. Based on known data points – such as a site visit, purchase behaviour, device and/or geo data – a relevant message is shown to each user in real-time. 

The content and frequency of the message will change based on the ongoing analysis of the user and their interest or intent. The tactic is starting to be used in ‘lower funnel’ tactics like retargeting and prospecting for new customers.

There are logistical challenges to be overcome in this approach as advertisers will often need a lot of technical infrastructure that are integrated across data management, ad-serving and demand side technologies. 

Direct Response-driven advertisers across retail, travel, classifieds and telecoms have been the main sectors to use this approach but its application is now extending beyond standard banner ads into new formats and content – such as native.

What does the future hold?

So, there are plenty of dynamic creative tactics available to do innovative digital storytelling at scale and you should trial the approaches that best fit your key objectives with a mind to what’s coming. 

The future of dynamic creative will be enhanced by the emergence of offline data, such as store shopper data, granular location data and social profile data. These make audience targeting and dynamic messaging more accessible, at scale.

This is accompanied by consumer’s increasing use of multiple devices and, in turn, greater relevance for them in terms of content and advertising.

For example, the messaging a consumer may want to engage with in their leisure time at home on a tablet, versus at a store location on a mobile phone will be vastly different.

We’re also seeing the extension of the dynamic creative from typical direct-response banners towards video and native formats for brand-centric activity, and even into other areas not typically reached by programmatic methods, such as email and client-owned content.

The consumer experience from first banner seen, to email received and advertiser site visited can all now be personalised dynamically based on what we know about the consumer right now.