How to Fix Creative in Online Advertising

by Adobe Communications Team

posted on 06-17-2018

With the 2018 Cannes Lions around the corner, creativity in advertising is top of mind for many marketers. It’s no secret that digital advertising lacks an element of creativity today that’s still driving a lot of value in television and other traditional formats. So how can marketers make digital ads better – using data to drive personalized ad experiences while still focusing on the quality of the creative that’s being delivered?

We talked to Justin Merickel, vice president of Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative, about why advertising has veered from creative, the role of technology in the art of persuasion, and how digital advertisers can bridge the siloed worlds of creative, media and data to deliver better ad experiences.

What makes you say advertising has veered from creative?

Let’s be blunt. A lot of digital advertising is just plain awful. The industry has over-engineered for direct response and too often ignored creativity. In digital, marketers are held to the data their campaigns produce and have to make quick alterations to ensure their investments meet expectations. But to get to their numbers, marketers too frequently sacrifice creativity.

You see the symptoms of our lack of creativity in the rise of ad blockers. But the problem is bigger than blocking ads. In a survey Adobe conducted with more than 1,000 marketers and consumers nationwide, more than half (51%) of millennials and 64% of generation Z stated that they find it “easy to ignore banner ads.” Even before consumers used technology to block ads the ads simply weren’t registering.

Our promise of better advertising through personalization isn’t delivering. Why? Strong personalization with strong creative execution is hard. Think of a hotel offering you a discounted stay in your home town rather than the destination of an upcoming trip. Or imagine that your favorite retailer delivers a generic ad with “recommended products” for items you’d never buy. 41% of brands we surveyed don’t use first-party data to target ads, which is part of why this disconnect exists.

Consumers see these digital ads and wonder if brands really get them. To solve it, you have to bridge the siloed worlds of creative, media and data. Adobe happens to be a leader in all three of those worlds and is creating a triple-threat for markets.

Why do you think creative needs to be deeper ingrained into the industry?

An ad without strong creative loses its potential impact. Due to campaign demands and the complexity of production, marketers often take the easy way out by creating cookie-cutter campaigns that aren’t adjusted to reflect the environment, platform, device or even the end consumer. The result is that the consumer finds the brand intrusive. In a loyalty study done by Infosys, 63% of consumers stated that they are annoyed by seeing generic ad messages repeatedly. This needs to stop. Marketers need to ensure their message is relevant by personalizing creative on site activity, interests and where they are in the purchasing journey.

Bill Bernbach said, “Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion is not a science, it’s an art.” Talk about the role of technology in the art of persuasion.

Enterprise marketers believe in the art of persuasion. They’re spending a lot of time thinking through the right campaigns for the right target audiences and what that brand experience looks like. But when it comes down to execution, especially in digital ads and banners, that’s where the experience is breaking.

At best, marketers are turning to standard ad templates and using data to drive personalization. But they’re losing the critical element of storytelling. As a result, the industry has indexed toward data and science and lost some of the art that we know has been effective for decades in how you actually drive brand affinity, and ultimately, drive impact on the business.

Investing in creativity is not just something that marketers want to do because they believe it’s right, it actually has a positive impact on the financial performance of their business, according to a 2017 McKinsey report. Marketers need to invest in the art in addition to the science. And Adobe is in a unique position to help them start to blend those two.

Today’s advertisers have a lot of customer data and great tools — so why is true personalization so hard?

Let’s take a typical scenario faced by a creative team. If a brand has 20 products it is looking to promote, with two promo offers available to choose from targeting seven geographic markets and three stages of the customer journey required before conversion then they are looking at 840 creative variations that they will need to produce in order to target consumers with personalized advertising. Not only is this expensive and time consuming, it’s also extremely dull for creatives to work on — minor changes made to hundreds of similar display ads is not why creatives got into the business even if it is integral to success for the brand that employs them.

By automating the process through Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative, we free up creatives’ time so they aren’t stuck doing minor edits and can actually focus on doing what they do best — creating. The automation is what then allows brands to take the creative and finesse, adjust and optimize to their heart’s content.

How does Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative help advertisers bridge the siloed worlds of creative, media and data?

Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative is a new, self-serve platform that links working in Creative Cloud with marketers deploying creative in digital media. Advertising Cloud Creative gives marketers control over basic ad elements — such as copy and approved imagery — to allow for the rapid rollout of new messaging without starting the design process from scratch. Ad Cloud Creative assembles ad iterations in real time using data, sequencing, and targeting logic the marketer builds in an intuitive decision tree. Our product allows creative professionals to design in their tool of choice, Creative Cloud, while marketers get the control to deliver the creative velocity and personalization their campaigns require.

Advertising Cloud Creative combines Adobe’s creative tech (by integrating with the ads and assets built in Adobe Creative Cloud) with martech (targeting audiences gleaned from first-party customer data from Adobe Analytics or Adobe Audience Manager, our data management platform) and ad tech via Adobe Advertising Cloud, including our leading DSP built following the TubeMogul acquisition for automating buys.

What does the future look like for Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative?

We’re continuing to add features to Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative that support digital advertising and optimization across all channels and formats, including search and video. We want to make it easier for enterprise marketers to bridge the siloed worlds of creative, media and data, so they can tell the right stories to their target audiences, and drive brand value beyond clicks and sales.

Adobe is raising the bar on creative advertising. Read more in our Cannes Lions 2018 series.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Advertising

Products: Advertising Cloud