How the Film Metropolis Foretold the Future of Ad Tech

by Toccara Baker

Posted on 04-10-2018

Have you ever seen the clas­sic Ger­man expres­sion­ist movie Metrop­o­lis? It’s filled with glo­ri­ous dystopi­an Art Deco-inspired views of the future. In the 1980s, Gior­gio Moroder over­saw a three year restora­tion, repack­ag­ing it with an elec­tro sound­track loaded with Adam Ant and Bon­nie Tyler hits. Even Madon­na was moved by the unique look and feel of this Fritz Lang mas­ter­piece, film­ing her “Express Your­self” video as an homage to the movie.

Why is Metrop­o­lis a metaphor for the ad tech indus­try? Let me tell you.

The famous end title con­tains the most quot­ed line of the film: “The medi­a­tor between the head and the hands must be the heart”. When it comes to ad tech we’ll be see­ing a lot of this in prac­tice mov­ing for­ward, with Adobe ide­al­ly posi­tioned to achieve this inte­gra­tion thanks to its his­toric, deep knowl­edge of devel­op­ing mar­ket-lead­ing cre­ative prod­ucts and soft­ware.

The devel­op­ment of amaz­ing cre­ative has always been at the heart of advertising—but we’ve nev­er inte­grat­ed it into the process of pro­gram­mat­ic deliv­ery. Instead it’s been siloed: a cre­ative cam­paign is con­struct­ed by one team, then sent to the pro­gram­mat­ic team to use, despite the numer­ous advan­tages that data-informed cam­paigns can deliv­er. If changes are ever need­ed to a pro­gram­mat­i­cal­ly-deliv­ered cam­paign the process is time con­sum­ing and tedious. The cre­ative is sent back from the pro­gram­mat­ic team to the agency. Minor changes are made to try and boost cam­paign suc­cess based on how the ad is per­form­ing. The ad returns to the pro­gram­mat­ic team to opti­mise, and around and around it goes. This sucks time away from what cre­atives should be doing, name­ly gen­er­at­ing the kind of wow activ­i­ties that will put your brand on the map.

Our new prod­uct, Adobe Adver­tis­ing Cloud Cre­ative, embeds cre­ative devel­op­ment into the pro­gram­mat­ic deliv­ery process, mar­ry­ing the cre­ative strength and ease-of-use we offer in our mar­ket-lead­ing Cre­ative Cloud soft­ware with the tar­get­ing and data-pow­ered insights enabled by Adver­tis­ing Cloud into a sin­gle solu­tion.

This is not to say that the day of the “cool” ad is over, or that the role of the cre­ative team dimin­ish­es. They can be even more pow­er­ful because Adobe Adver­tis­ing Cre­ative enables them to har­ness mul­ti­ple lay­ers of data to make their out­put more tar­get­ed, loved and engag­ing for consumers.

We acknowl­edge that some may look back wist­ful­ly to the Mad Men days, when bril­liant ideas stemmed from a three-mar­ti­ni lunch, result­ing in con­sumers hum­ming mem­o­rable jin­gles and quot­ing ad to each oth­er. But back then there were far few­er loca­tions where an ad could appear. View­er­ship of tens of mil­lions per tele­vi­sion pro­gramme weren’t uncommon.

Today, con­sumers go on mobile, watch tele­vi­sion, use stream­ing ser­vices, read papers online, see dig­i­tal and sta­t­ic out-of-home ads, lis­ten to pod­casts, click on web­sites, surf on social—and more. As com­pe­ti­tion for a con­sumers’ time increas­es, their atten­tion spans decrease. Unless the cre­ative is tar­get­ed and avail­able for instant opti­mi­sa­tion, con­sumers will block your ad. Rel­e­vance is key, and cre­ative plays a mas­sive role in that.

Inte­grat­ing cre­ative into media buy­ing process is a quick­er way to feed insights about what works and what doesn’t. Brands and agen­cies will have the abil­i­ty to piv­ot to an ad that’s bet­ter per­form­ing mid-cam­paign or finesse the poor­ly per­form­ing cre­ative of anoth­er ad to make it per­form bet­ter. Mar­keters no longer have to wait until their entire buy is spent before adjust­ing cre­ative with their data insights.

Which is why we return to the final frames of Metrop­o­lis. Its char­ac­ters realised that heart, hand and brain must work togeth­er for the bet­ter­ment of their city and soci­ety as a whole. The same is true of ad tech. You can’t reach your goals if the heart (cre­ative) and the data (brain) aren’t matched when the hand puts the cam­paign in place.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Creative, Programmatic, Silos, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA