Twenty-Five Years After the First Digital Ad, Content is Still King

by Scott Belsky

posted on 03-25-2019

Twenty-five years ago, the digital advertisement was born. There were many terrible uses of the technology, especially in the early days (dancing banners and pop-up ads, ugh!), but it has also led to creative people coming up with lots of novel and fun ideas.

One great example: Burger King’s Subservient Chicken ads in 2004. You could visit a website and order a man in a chicken suit to play dead, moonwalk, or do a push-up. More recently, I was blown away by the “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” ad that Oreo came up with – on the fly! – during the 2013 Super Bowl’s power outage.

These ads were delivered on different digital platforms and planned and executed in vastly different ways, but they have one thing in common: great content. Adobe Summit, coming up on March 26 in Las Vegas, will talk a lot about how companies manage their relationships with customers today – how they deliver and manage content in real time, how they handle the ever-shifting media landscape, and how they manage customers’ all-time high expectations. But no matter how the technology of Customer Experience Management develops, a successful connection with a customer will always have its foundation in fantastic content.

Technology transforms content

And it’s exciting to see that just as technology is transforming how ads and other experiences are delivered, it’s also transforming the kind of creative content in those experiences. One important new technology is 3D content creation.

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t have to put on 3D glasses to watch ads. How big a deal can this be?” But 3D creation tools are being used in a growing number of ads that you may never experience in 3D. For instance, about 9 out of every 10 car commercials aren’t shot with a car actually driving along some picturesque road. Instead, automakers use the kinds of tools used to make video games to render an SUV in 3D cruising along a pristine coastline. Then they show that footage in 2D video on TV or the Internet. That process is taking over because it’s easier and less expensive than shooting in real life.

And it’s not just car commercials. A growing percentage of images in catalogs for brands like Ikea are produced the same way. After all, why spend a day or more finding a space and hauling in furniture for a photo shoot when someone skilled in 3D content creation can render a perfect mid-century modern living room in a few hours at her computer?

Adobe recently acquired Allegorithmic, the leader in designing the materials and textures that bring 3D objects to life. Part of the reason we made the move is that Allegorithmic’s Substance suite is relied on not only by the vast majority of AAA game studios, but also by dozens of top consumer brands, like Volkswagen, Samsung, and Louis Vuitton.

The rise of Augmented Reality

While we’re now experiencing lots of content produced in 3D but shown in 2D, I’m convinced that we’ll soon see it presented more and more in 3D, especially through Augmented Reality. Just as the Web provided a transformative way to interact with digital content, I think AR will provide a way to fuse the digital and physical worlds and allow us to experience both simultaneously.

At last year’s MAX conference, for instance, we worked with Adidas to show how a customer considering a new pair of shoes in a store could use AR to “explode” that model of shoe into its component parts and learn much more about the shoe’s construction and benefits than they ever could from the real-world display alone.

My responsibility as Adobe’s Chief Product Officer is to make sure that creative people have all the tools they need to thrive as 3D and AR become more and more important creative mediums. That’s why we acquired Allegorithmic and why we’re developing Project Aero, which makes it possible to create Augmented Reality experiences using tools like Photoshop and Dimension that millions of creative professionals are already familiar with.

Personalized content

So, great content is vital to great customer experiences. But it’s also important to remember that content that really works for me may not land for you, and vice versa. The best ads connect with who a person is, what they’re interested in, and how much they know about a product or a brand.

Making the connection between content and the people who will experience it is one of the valuable ways that Creative Cloud and Experience Cloud can work together. With Experience Cloud, advertisers like Best Buy can build a detailed profile of their customers. Are you a real gearhead who’s been deeply researching all the specs for a new laptop? Or are you just browsing for a TV that will look great in your living room? The answers to those questions determine what kind of advertising content will help you the most.

In the end, I think you could describe the role of content and personalization like this:

Content x Personalization = Impact

Each multiplies the value of the other. Which illustrates the enormous opportunity Adobe has as we continue to develop and deepen the connections between Creative Cloud and Experience Cloud. The promise is customer experiences that are so timely and useful to you that it almost doesn’t feel like advertising. And that could be even better than a Subservient Chicken.

Learn how to create an outstanding customer experience combining great design and creativity.

Topics: Creativity, Adobe Summit, Digital Transformation

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud