Creativity please

Over the next couple of weeks, were running content from our recently-published Programmatic Handbook. Here, Dal Gill, global head of programmatic at seedtag, asks if the programmatic industry lacks creativity.

According to Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising, a report released by the IAB in September 2018, digital advertising budgets keep growing, and for some advertisers it is becoming their biggest spend: 29 per cent of those surveyed said they had invested more than 61 per cent of their total budget in digital.

In light of the above, there is a huge growth potential in programmatic, since it provides strategic competitive advantage on both the buy side and the sell side of the digital advertising industry.

While some native advertising solutions can bring a breath of fresh air into programmatic by boosting creativity, the non-standard nature of programmatic has prevented them from spreading themselves widely, and most agencies would rather stick to the classic formats they feel more comfortable with.

Here’s what some programmatic experts think about creativity in programmatic buying:

Sam Yu-Hsuan Lin, head of programmatic at Zenith, states: “Possibly due to resource constraint, we often see brands stick to the usual creative formats they are most familiar with. This might provide the best reach; however, brands might be missing out on opportunities that can best maximise the impact of their creative message.”

Olumide Gomes programmatic director at MC&C, says: “The promise of programmatic and buying based on audiences was meant to bring us closer to 1:1 messaging and creativity; however, it seems to be heading the other way. Rather than creating ads based around a consumer’s experience with the brand and creative, it seems to be more about an obsession with looking for what is deemed good metrics. Ultimately, in the front of every marketer’s mind should always be how their audience will be receiving their brand.”

In the words of Shaaf Tauqeer, Cadreon campaign engineer: “Programmatic can be utilised to drive so much more creativity than we actually are at this moment. If utilised properly, the automated element (AI algorithms) associated with the tech provides us time to concentrate on developing interesting insights, and therefore more useful campaigns. From a trader’s perspective, time is everything, so if data is analysed properly we can look into building audience insights to generate dynamic campaigns which are specifically directed towards the users’ needs. What we are lacking is not the ability to use data correctly to build those insights and then use those data segments all the way to mould creatives that drive sales or engagements for a brand, which is the ultimate goal of any advertiser.”

Fern Potter, Neo Media World UK managing partner, thinks that Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) and other data-based technologies are a plaster for a lack of process around creative and media integration. Potter states: “Consideration of target audience, delivery platform and the audience’s consumption of said platform needs to be considered throughout the process of creative ideation, production and media distribution. Finally, measurement and success metrics for creative should be as robust and accountable as they are for media placement. A combined KPI delivers better accountability and a better consumer experience.”

Why Seedtag in-image programmatic?
The planning and execution of programmatic ads are crying out for more innovation and creativity from their agency and publisher partners. This has led to the rise of ad tech companies, and their place in the ecosystem is more important than ever.

Seedtag was founded in 2014 with the mission to offer impactful, non-intrusive and compelling in-image solutions. Over the years, the company has evolved by developing its own technology, which provides a wealth of data used for accurate campaign delivery.

My own view as global head of programmatic at seedtag is that too many programmatic ads lack creativity. We have got really good at the data targeting aspect and improving KPIs, but the same creatives are used by buyers across all publishers. First it was standard banners, then video, and not much has changed. There is no point talking about ad fraud, brand safety, blockchain and AI in 2019 if the end ads are all going to look the same as they did in 2018.

Marketeers need new, innovative suggestions from their agencies. This may be a reason why many agency and publisher folk don’t make that jump into programmatic buying and selling, because, quite frankly, it is boring. You just need to look at the people in attendance at the numerous programmatic events throughout the year and you’ll see the same faces year after year. The industry needs a shake-up, with more creativity and innovation.

Programmatic access to in-image inventory is of great importance to seedtag and all five disruptive video and display solutions are now available to be bought. This allows brands to be flexible in targeting their message to highly relevant users. Plus, our in-house design team have a wide expertise in their field after creating more than 3,000 campaigns, which have been delivered across both the European and the Latam markets.

Technology powering creativity and innovation
Seedtag’s in-house Cognitive Content Analysis technology, combined with the power of machine learning, provides human-like understanding of the content and an unmatched contextual targeting accuracy. It identifies thousands of features within text and images and provides three key targeting capabilities: Brand Safety (analyses whether the article is safe or not for brands to display in their campaigns); Context Categories (provides different targeting categories so that brands can reach their audience in the most relevant environments); and Custom Categories (like Context Categories, but built upon strategic keywords provided by the brand).

Once collected, seedtag leverages all this data to find the optimum campaign context and to shape creatives accordingly, maximising campaign impact.

Final thoughts
Native advertising is, by definition, non-standard. However, when selling these solutions programmatically, most suppliers have come up with ways to standardise creative components, so that they can be easily integrated into the programmatic buying ecosystem.

The problem appears when standardisation kills creativity and makes every ad look the same. In order to avoid this, every player in the market should keep in mind the basics of creativity. Style, tone, copy and images should be designed according to the media placement where the ads are shown and, of course, the audience that will see them. For this purpose, the most powerful data and insights should be leveraged, right from the start. Boosting creativity will lead to better results and provide users with a positive brand experience.

Seedtag was founded in 2014 when two former Googlers saw great advertising potential in editorial images. In its first year, the company exceeded its break-even point, and in the second year, seedtag multiplied its turnover by a factor of five. 2018 was the year in which the company achieved its largest growth and international expansion, with offices in Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Benelux, Mexico and Brazil.

You can read the entire Programmatic Handbook online here