The Era of Programmatic Creative

Engaging consumers in the era of programmatic creative relies on data and automated technology. In this piece, Jamie Evans-Parker, CEO and founder of wayve, (pictured below) suggests how marketers can create the perfect mixture.

Nearly a decade has passed since programmatic emerged onto the digital advertising scene, revolutionising targeting capability and efficiency by automating ad trading. Although initial uptake was slow, marketers are now readily embracing the technology – its portion of ad spend will exceed £2bn next year in the UK alone.

Jamie Evans-Parker WayveProgrammatic itself is showing signs of maturity, allowing marketers to reach increasingly specific audiences in real-time; while enabling publishers to maximise their digital assets and win bids from brands through indirect sales. But it’s crucial for marketers to ensure that the heavy focus on campaign scale does not come at the expense of creativity.

Brands are beginning to realise that, while delivering a highly targeted campaign at an auction price is great, powerful and relevant creative is crucial to achieve the desired impact. A new era of digital advertising is dawning, where programmatic and creative combine to create far-reaching and captivating campaigns.

So, how can marketers marry accurate data insight, automated technologies, and creativity to engage consumers?

Joining forces to improve targeting

As demand for a seamless, tailored and cross-screen online experience has increased; disparate tech forces have combined their strengths. The collision of martech and ad tech has brought together in-depth audience insight and sophisticated campaign execution, enabling marketers to achieve a new level of audience segmentation and precise targeting. Creative messages can be tailored to suit niche audiences, while lookalike audiences can be targeted using data collected from previous consumer interactions.

Making creative content personal

Programmatic creative solves the ultimate problem of modern advertising: how to reach the right audience and ensure ad content is engaging for individuals. Using technology such as dynamic creative — a tool that automatically selects and combines creative assets according to real-time context — ads can be adapted and optimised to sequential, geographic, and demographic factors, as well as CRM data. The result is highly relevant creative that drives personal interactions and therefore, campaign performance. A strong example of dynamic creative in action is Pantene’s 'Haircast' campaign, which saw the brand team up The Weather Channel in Australia to deliver hair care solutions that instantly aligned with the current climate via geo-targeting as consumers checked the forecast on their mobile devices.

Understanding audience needs in real-time

The union of marketing data and automated ad tech has also created a 360-degree view of consumers. With a detailed understanding of consumer activity, marketers can pinpoint their position in the sales funnel — determining whether consumers are researching, considering buying or if they have already purchased. This information enables marketers to ensure that creative messaging matches consumer needs at each and every stage of their journey.

Expanding the range of ad formats

Programmatic creative allows marketers to use multiple variations of ads that are all delivered instantly to the optimal audience. Marketers can therefore boost engagement and appeal by building creative content in a variety of formats, such as rich media ads, video ads, and native ads. Instead of banners that dominate the screen, programmatic creative means consumers are met with engaging, non-disruptive formats that enhance their experience.

Improving cross-channel efficiency

No matter how superior the quality of the ad creative, poor rendering and latency issues will put consumers off. Ads therefore need to display perfectly across all devices and screen sizes. It is essential for marketers to ensure ads work in every environment from native apps and Adobe DPS publications, to web apps and traditional websites. Ads must also be optimised for all operating systems, including iOS, Android, and Windows. The rise of HTML5 means that marketers can construct responsive creative that adjusts to its destination for maximum impact.

Moving towards direct trading

As brands opt to secure the best publisher inventory by reserving ad placements before campaigns go live, the industry is shifting towards a programmatic direct model. Next year, the digital landscape will see an influx of private marketplaces, forging closer ties between publishers and marketers. The connection will also drive the standard of digital ads higher as publishers encourage brands to build ads that complement and enhance their websites, filling the web with rich media ads that translate well across screens and delight consumers.

There is no question that technological innovation is the force driving digital advertising progression; yet programmatic alone is not the Holy Grail for marketers. Although technology facilitates seamless, instant, cross-channel advertising, it must be combined with compelling content to be truly effective. To bring about a new era of programmatic creative, marketers must draw together audience insight, automated solutions, engaging formats and cross-channel flexibility in one complete, perfect mixture.