“Not everything has to be aspirational. If you’re selling a car to a parent, tell them how easy it is to put their kid in the back seat, not how it is going to change their entire life.” –Adam Cahill
In a world where (successful) advertising has become completely driven by data, it’s time for creative to catch up but it continuously lags behind. The media world has advanced and is praised for its use of tools and insights to zero in on the consumer; what they like, dislike, where they live, and how we should talk to them. Creative is left in the confusion of creating crafted brand stories, that don’t quite fit in a banner ad.
Adam Cahill, CEO and founder of Anagram, spoke on Creativity In A Programmatic World, hosted by MIMA. As a digital savant and seasoned programmatic expert, Cahill shared his thoughts on the role that creative plays in the programmatic space. He noted that, “people don’t see algorithms, they see ads”. So how can creative adapt to being as successful as the data has set it up to be?
Soon, everything will be programmatic. Although some platforms try to hold out, all will turn at some point and creatives need to be prepared for this shift in thinking. TV spots are stories. Radio ads are stories. But advertising doesn’t always need to tell a story. Sometimes, it is just saying the correct message in the blink of an eye, and this is the creative approach needed when thinking about very specific audience targeting.
Using creative segmenting, we can speak to our audiences with specific messaging using the data you have and tailoring the creative to enhance the customer journey. Spongecell’s “Tennessee Vacation Matchmaker” analyzed consumer’s online behavior and served a personalized vacation video. Over 2,000 videos were created and in the time that it takes to load a pre-roll video, one of these 45 second videos were chosen for the viewer based on variables such as location, likes, subscriptions, and search history. The Tennessee Tourism website saw a 46% traffic increase over two weeks and 93% of viewers surveyed said they were planning a visit to Tennessee.
Cahill points out that when media buyers optimize their programmatic ads, they take things off the table. ”Don’t overcomplicate it. When targeting, start with variations that are always true, like location, date, and weather. Next, build for distinct audiences. Finally, build for distinct audiences across a journey.” He encourages marketers to think about expansive optimization and find other elements to add to your campaign that will help scale it. Effective expansive optimization is taking what we learned from our best performing concepts and leveraging those concepts, as well as creating similar concepts.
What does this approach mean for a creative? Follow through.
Following up on how certain pieces performed will inform the next round, but Cahill notes that agencies need to give their creative teams access to this information and that creative people are often shielded from data. In order to bridge the gap between media and creative teams, we need to open up the discussion on data, be transparent with our findings across teams and work in tandem to use data to drive creative decision making.
Creative management platforms have proven to be very effective for agencies and their teams. Being able to share data directly with creatives allows them to understand the process around why we create what we do. Software that brings data to the creatives, like Thunder and Celtra, gives them more access to data and results can be motivating.
The truth is, crafting creative for programmatic is an exercise in problem solving. It is reframing the creative process from storytelling to scenario planning. It is taking known data and very specific audiences, and telling them what they want to hear and showing them what they like to see.
Creative in programmatic has room to experiment, push it out to the world, see how it performs, and adapt to what works best. Sometimes, all it takes is thinking of just the right thing to say.