Creativity in programmatic “should not be an afterthought”

Our Creative Programmatic event is coming up on 2 March and our sister brand, Econsultancy, caught up with two of the speakers at the event, O2’s Head of Digital Excellence, Nick Adams, and TUI’s Head of Media, Sammy Austin. Between them they discussed some of the biggest emerging trends and challenges in programmatic, and offered their opinions and advice on where creativity fits within this channel.

Emerging trends and challenges in programmatic advertising

Ad blocking

Econsultancy frequently cover ad blocking on their blog, a subject that inevitably poses a problem in the programmatic world.

According to TUI Group’s Head of Media, Sammy Austin, who described ad blocking as ‘a wake up call to the industry’, the key to overcoming the issue lies in strong creative.

“By investing more time and money in creative and our creative strategy we can alleviate some of the concerns around [ad blocking].”

Austin also argues that programmatic marketers need to use data from a variety of sources – first-party, on-site and third-party – to ensure the creative is as relevant as possible.

Second-party data

If you’re not already aware of second-party data, it’s essentially first-party data that is collected and sold to you by an external party.

Austin says she would like to see more of this type of data in programmatic in future.

“I have some concerns over the accuracy of third-party data,” she says. “A lot of the time it is modelled to generate scale, but we need an understanding of how those audience segments are built in order to make a decision as to whether or not they are worth the additional cost.”

“Being able to access another data set directly from another source is extremely valuable, and where there is no competition between brands I think these types of relationships will bring huge benefits.”

Real-time data customisation

Nick Adams highlights an increasing link between data and creativity, whereby the former can be manipulated in increasingly fluid ways to achieve the latter.

“The use of data to inform, adapt and customise digital creative in real-time according to the audience segment being reached is an emerging and incredibly exciting area of programmatic advertising.”

Cross-functional teams

There has been much talk in the marketing world about ‘siloed’ teams, i.e. teams working very much independently within a business and not talking to and working with each other.

But times are changing, and Austin believes the growing trend of cross-departmental working in marketing will have a big impact on programmatic.

“I think we’ll see growth will be direct response and brand teams working closer together, which should definitely be the case to ensure consistency in approach and make sure we tell a good story.

“Advertisers and media agencies will also align themselves closer to their creative agencies.”

Cross-device solutions

Multichannel is another topic often referred to on the Econsultancy blog and, with an increasing number of devices and customer touch points, this topic is only going to become more prevalent.

Austin believes managing campaigns across different devices is one of the big continuing challenges in programmatic.

“More and more solutions are becoming available, and it ties in with the importance of brand and direct response teams working closer together and the need to tell a good story.

“How can we sequentially message consumers if we aren’t able to accurately target cross-device?”

Austin also argues that you can’t efficiently frequency-cap or have a sophisticated attribution solution if there is no cross-device solution in place.

“The challenge with cross device is the presence of walled gardens,” she says.

Creativity’s place in programmatic

This is one of the big questions that seems to pop up a lot in discussions about programmatic advertising. With all that data and automation, is programmatic killing the creative side of marketing?

Our two interviewees think not.

Arguing that creative is actually at the forefront of emerging trends in programmatic, Austin says we’ve all been guilty of repurposing old creative or not giving as much thought as we should just to get a campaign up and running on time.

But, she argues, with the opportunity to target the right person and the right time and in the right place, it is increasingly important to serve the right creative.

“Data sits at the heart of this,” she says. “I also think there is more opportunity now: the increase of private marketplaces, automated guaranteed and more high-impact and bespoke formats being offered means we can actually be more creative.

Austin sees programmatic as a full-funnel solution, from branding and awareness right down to direct response.

“Creative should be considered at the very beginning of the campaign planning and should sit at the heart of everything alongside data. It should not be an after thought.”

Adams believes creativity in programmatic comes down to how you structure your communications programmes.

Having a balance between always-on, trigger-based activity and highly crafted set-piece campaigns ultimately allows us to achieve a good balance.

Our always-on layer continues to grow and become more effective over time as we trigger messages according to the segment’s position in their lifecycle with O2.

Want to hear Nick Adams and Sammy Austin talk at the event? Book your ticket for Creative Programmatic today.

This article originally appeared on our sister title Econsultancy.

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