Brilliant Advertising: Unlock the Power of Programmatic Advertising With the Right Creative

by Pete Kluge

posted on 03-07-2017

In 1976, Jhane Barnes designed a pair of pants that made men look so good that even John Lennon wanted a pair. Within two years, she bought a loom and, inspired by fractals — yes, fractals — became a force in the textile market. Fractals are comprised of one pattern that is repeated infinitely to create some of the most beautiful designs in nature. In 1992, to create beautiful fabric without having to spend years drawing the thousands of tiny details on her designs, Barnes applied the concept behind fractals to fashion.

She began by collaborating with mathematician Bill Jones (who specializes in software that creates patterns for wearing) and physicist and software developer Dana Cartwright (who translates Jones’s mathematics). The tools they created enabled Barnes to zoom in on nature’s fractals until she found an image that interested her. Then, she could set that image on repeat to create more intricate designs. Lastly, she swapped out background colors and weaves to add dimension and a feel to her fabrics that would resonate with her target consumer. In the process — though Jones’s and Cartwright’s software helped develop different design variations for target consumers — all the images derived from one design, helping Barnes retain her unique “Jhane” look.

Fractals Come to Advertising.
Programmatic advertising began as an automated way to buy and sell ad inventory through exchanges that connected advertisers with publishers. Nowadays, it’s a common tactic for most advertisers. Last year, Chris Breikss, president and cofounder of 6S Marketing, tweeted something that intrigued marketers. He wrote that he was, “Learning about the Mandelbrot set, fractals, and self-similarity at the Programmatic Insight Summit.”

On the surface — like in fashion — the connection between fractals and programmatic advertising isn’t obvious. But, when the underlying concept of fractals is applied to programmatic advertising, it makes way for a revolutionary concept: scalable mass personalization. Similar to Barnes’s fractal designs, creatives can develop infinitely similar ads and then swap out ad components — images, copy, pricing — in real time to create ads that are sure to resonate with the target consumers who receive them.

Because of these new customizing capabilities, the implications of programmatic advertising have become far-reaching for brands that are striving to maintain a competitive edge. Enthusiasm has grown, as targeting capabilities have become more apparent, and in 2016, US programmatic digital-display ad spend topped $22 billion — comprising 67 percent of all digital-display ad spend in the US. Ultimately, programmatic isn’t about ads at all, but rather, giving each customer a personalized, holistic experience — even if there are thousands, or even millions, of individual consumers. And, as with Barnes’s designs, programmatic done well is the scalable melding of art, math, and science that enables brands to deliver on customers’ wants and needs.

Make the Switch to Programmatic Advertising.
Marketers now have a tool that empowers them to match ad execution to the needs of media while allowing them to optimize in real time, manage multichannel campaigns, and target consumers with personalized ads throughout their customer journeys — all the way through to purchase. Done well, programmatic saves time and money and improves engagement and conversion performance. Following are three steps to help you apply the power of today’s programmatic advertising to your brand.

1. Unlock the Beauty and Power of Programmatic — Break Down Organizational Silos.
In school, Barnes was never great in math. Nowadays, though, by collaborating with those who are, she is able to scale her design process and delight target consumers. Likewise, the divergent groups that make up the list of stakeholders for programmatic advertising are worlds apart, but their collaboration can achieve great impact.

The CMO understands the brand and the focus of products; the head of digital advertising combines analytics and creativity to implement marketing campaigns; media buyers make decisions on ads and budgets; creatives produce custom ads; and marketers develop relevant, integrated, compelling messages across channels. Planning and analytics — often the instigators of data-driven advertising — drive results from digital efforts. And, if they all succeed in working together, the ultimate result is smarter, more effective campaigns that better resonate with consumers. For this reason, brands are finding it’s well worth the effort to bring all these groups together.

To drive acquisitions of a premium credit card, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) wanted to reach Canadians who were interested in travel. The marketing team assembled a group that comprised the creative group that was handling production, the media-buying team, and data analysts who defined the test and established performance reports. Working in collaboration, they developed a matrix of various product-benefit messages that were tested against an awareness control message. In doing so, they came up with one message — no seat restrictions — that led to a vigorous performance uptick of 28 percent in conversions.

2. Bridge Art and Science for Spot-On Customer Experiences.
Now that you’ve broken down silos to enable a collaborative approach, the next step is to take the immense amount of data available across your organization and find meaning that allows you to build a complete picture of each customer’s wants and needs — the perfect melding of art and science — so you can then deliver on them with personalized experiences. Without data, creative insights come only from intuition. But, like a fractal — whose beauty is defined by simple, yet powerful, mathematics — successful programmatic creative is fueled by data.

Big Data can be the inspiration behind stories that connect you with the right prospects — the trick is finding a message that resonates. After all, the best creative in the world is meaningless if it doesn’t serve a purpose; and creative that triggers emotion, but doesn’t increase engagement, doesn’t achieve the marketing goal. The solution is to identify the variables that impact results. In other words, if you’re going to send a personalized ad, test to learn which variables — including product, description, price, image, offer, location, dates, deadlines, and whatever else you can come up with — have the greatest impact.

L’Oréal sought to build a campaign over the summer to showcase two sunscreen products — one sunscreen for women and another for children. To create relevant ads for each segment, the company used audience-targeting lists to reach women both with and without children. By swapping out the images and copy, L’Oréal targeted the right consumers in real-time with creative that was personalized to drive engagement and conversion.

3. Embrace the Similar.
For most marketers, customizing multiple versions of one campaign, serving up real-time ads with strong creative, and making adjustments based on consumer reactions is challenging. For programmatic success, marketers and creatives must create simple, powerful pieces of content with modular elements that can be adapted to create the ads they want. Templated creative reduces development time, as you only need to produce the key assets that power creatives.

The ability to quickly make changes can be a factor in deciding how to produce an endless number of iterations of your ad. With dynamic creative, you have one ad layout with variable attributes that can be generated in real time. Barnes was able to apply software tools to her designs — swapping out colors and weaves — to create designs that grabbed attention in her target markets. Likewise, being able to grab images from your data assets and update ad components — price and copy, for example — through a data feed makes it easy to change ads without going through the creative process again.

Once you’re able to mass-produce ads, quickly test and optimize creative components to improve campaign performance. Identify the best ads to serve to customers and adjust those ads to improve performance. Use your data to create options and technology to select the best. By using a dynamic creative template, content-feed options, and digital assets, you can create relevant, personalized, and timely ads that are deliverable to large audiences — complete with a 1:1 personalized feel. Dynamic creative allows you to reach granular audiences with flexible ad creative that’s personalized in real time to drive user engagement, conversions, and integrated experiences across devices.

In Sum — Bring on the Brilliance!
Barnes proved that embracing the similar can take creative to new heights, allowing custom art to be created for the masses. Likewise, the goal of programmatic advertising should be to maintain a high volume of creative and personalized experiences while using technology to automate the execution. By matching insightful data with imaginative design and copy, you can pull new audiences into your brand story. For those who think automation is diminishing creative, the opposite could not be more true. Designing an experience that’s not only warm and human, but also dynamic and highly personalized isn’t diminishing at all, but rather, sets a new creative bar.

Programmatic makes it easy to select a highly targeted audience and then use dynamic creative to deliver an impression designed specifically for them. But, personalized, real-time advertising at scale also requires real-time creative at scale, and this realization is having a profound effect on how creative teams develop assets. In this new era of programmatic, marketers and creatives face challenges that can be met by getting buy-in from the right stakeholders, fostering communication and collaboration among creatives and digitals, and pursuing new ways to approach creative and production challenges.

To learn more about the power of dynamic creative in programmatic advertising, download our white paper: Brilliant Advertising. Unlock the power of programmatic with the right creative.

Topics: Advertising

Products: Advertising Cloud