What should brands be looking for from their online campaigns this year? Perhaps 2020 is a time for reflection, following 2 decades of trying to garner the best results from a small space through technological innovation.
Programmatic is the notable shift, offering advertisers the chance to harness data through a more personalised experience. This technology’s tailored creative approach has been offering something completely different, with targeting according to time of day, location and behaviour. As well as better results, we’re led to expect higher quality ads through programmatic creative, but my belief is that the industry still has a long way to go. Swamped by an obsession with metrics, I’m not always convinced by the quality of the results, and even less the creative.
There are many creative management platforms out there to build programmatic campaigns. “Using a CMP, even the smallest of in-house teams can become an ad factory. Smart automation means teams can produce countless display ad variations for multi-market, multi-audience campaigns.” Bannerflow
But is an ad factory what brands want?
My observation is that many brands are continuing blindly along this path, ignoring the lessons of traditional advertising. When I think of legendary advertising campaigns of the past 2 decades, like Honda’s The Cog, it’s the creativity that stands out.
A brilliant creative idea brought to life through exceptional graphic design seems to be off the radar for many brands’ online campaigns. Yet the digital ad space has become a friendlier place for large scale branding campaigns. Brands like Kellogg have sung the praises of online advertising for brand marketing. Marketing Dive
Creativity within programmatic advertising doesn’t just mean design. The way in which marketers use programmatic buying to target (and retarget) consumers offers creativity in itself. Any media buyer will tell you that you can use data creatively to reach the right customer at the right time, with the right message. But design has always been about more than cosmetic appearance. Good graphic communication is the ultimate user targeting. The results are harder to quantify, but the expression quality over quantity exists for a reason.
Dare I say there’s more to online advertising than targeted and retargeted content? It has its place, and will continue to improve, but there will always be a need for great creative, striving for a different kind of meaningful and lasting value. Creative has real potential to leave a positive, lasting impression, whereas being stalked by a t-shirt I’ve already bought for £9 less might not.
Brands working solely with online ad factories may be missing a trick, because true brand-awareness requires skilled creative awareness. You might consider a banner too small, but some of the most elegant and compelling graphic communication can be found on a postage stamp. If your online creative is not looking as great as it did in the storyboards you signed off, or maybe the process feels exasperatingly convoluted, we’d like to hear from you, to offer a few pointers.
Spicerack has 22 years’ heritage in the digital space, creating online campaigns for Clarks, Dyson, Vahiné and Disney & Colgate-Palmolive to name a few.
Dave Harrison Founder & Partner