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Programmatic: The Future is Creative


My journey to becoming a consultant in media and creative marketing solutions for global brands has been both challenging and rewarding. But when it first began, I never realised just how significant programmatic advertising would become.

The first time I accepted a role in this field, I did so with little knowledge of what would come out of it. Yet I happily took the position with leading global creative agency DDB Group, managing Telstra’s first-in-market “always on” program.

Coming from Razorfish – the quintessential full-service digital agency of the time – the concept of combining technology with creative was nothing new. We were already engaging in real-time buying and dynamic creative messaging when Vivaki launched their Audience On Demand platform, without knowing this practice would soon become mainstream.

Fast forward to today, and we are seeing a rapid rise in ad blocking, particularly among mobile users and the younger generation; a clear indication that consumers are dissatisfied with inadequate messaging and ad formats.

At a time when users increasingly expect the content they want, when they want it, from wherever they want, the current advertising model simply isn’t cutting it.

The Creativity Gap

At the heart of this issue lies the fact that creative agencies have been left out of the advertising technology industry for far too long. It is this historic lack of integration between creative and media agencies during the planning process that has caused a major roadblock in getting creative up-to-speed with the programmatic environment.

I was reminded of the crucial role of creative in the successful adoption of technology amongst brands and consumers, during attendance at Mumbrella 360 last week.

Joy Robins, VP of Global Revenue and Strategy at Quartz, gave an eye-opening account of how publishers and advertisers can regain the trust of consumers. What struck me the most was the fact that their success came from flipping the advertising model on its head, by creating “out-of-the-box” creative advertisements that did NOT interrupt the user experience on their website or app.

While Joy’s session may have been insightful, there is an astonishingly little focus on creativity amongst the countless conferences, panels and editorials discussing “the future of programmatic”.

Innovation Through Collaboration

So what can we do to bridge this gap and ensure creativity is not lost amidst the dominating focus on media and technology?

For publishers, the answer lies in working closely with advertisers to fully understand their audience; rethinking creative ad formats and the resulting user experience and journey, and ensuring effective engagement with their users.

Media agencies meanwhile need to develop strategic planning with the creative agency, working closely with creatives to understand their workflow. Educating and training staff on digital marketing – including creative, user experience, content, and the user journey – will go a long way in enabling smooth partnerships with their creative counterparts.

Similarly, creative agencies should bring staff up-to-speed on digital, media and technology, and focus on enhancing storytelling through multiple touchpoints. Investing in real-time insights will assist in planning while the use of Dynamic Creative Optimisation and versioning will facilitate a more efficient workflow when partnering with media agencies.

As for the advertisers, there needs to be a shift away from a product planning strategy to a more audience-centric planning strategy. Collaboration between creative and media agencies should be a requirement at all times, and a neutral planning approach covering omnichannel should be developed.

Just as in my early days at Razorfish – which saw a melting pot of talent from technology, creative and media all working together – the solution to bridging the creative gap lies in effective collaboration between creative and media agencies.

It lies in this collaboration being present at every stage – from defining the overarching strategy, all the way through to campaign execution.

And crucially, it lies in recognising the vital importance of creativity in effective digital advertising.

 

Stay tuned for my next post, where I will focus on the relationship between data and creativity.

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