Recently I heard the head of digital at a major agency lament the fact that although his company was one of the first to adopt dynamic ads years ago, they have executed only a handful of campaigns. Creative production and operational complexity are real issues for the agency. Shortly thereafter, I spoke to a major online publisher who is spearheading new advertising solutions by combining audience insights with dynamic creative. However, their efforts are the exception rather than the rule, while thousands of advertisers still struggle with the idea that every online display campaign should be dynamic and are overwhelmed by too many options.
These conversations are typical of two primary challenges impacting the industry that I hope to see addressed soon (perhaps during the rest of Advertising Week): How do we make dynamic video advertising simple? How do we increase adoption in the marketplace?
To fully understand the direction we as an industry need to head, let's look at a few of the challenges:
· First, advertisers must conceive of and plan for complex implementations that address every single micro-target for a product or service.
· Second, developing so many creative executions is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
· Third, you must assume you know all about fancy optimization algorithms: algorithms that dynamic providers claim have all the answers, yet find it hard to explain in clear, concrete terms.
Each of these steps creates a tremendous amount of friction in the system. They overtax already overtaxed agency folks and, when left unsolved, create a situation where the cost of producing dynamic advertising overshadows the improved performance. I would like to see agencies, brands, technology providers and publishers come together to make all of this easier by focusing on these three challenges and producing some tangible ways to create better advertising.
Here is how we can get that discussion rolling:
1. Start with existing creative assets to minimize costs and reduce friction. For example, there is enormous opportunity to repurpose existing television spots to create dynamic video ads online. We all know the power of sight, sound and motion for branding, and this also ensures that the brand's messaging is consistent across platforms.
2. Think about a few key variables that help decide what core message to show to a particular person (and not just a variation of colors, fonts or product images). The most impactful are age, gender, time of day/week and message sequencing. For example, an auto manufacturer wants to show a flashy sports car to a primarily young male demographic. Or a fast-food chain shows a breakfast sandwich only in the morning hours when the menu item is available. Or a television network promotes its prime-time programming specific to the day of week. If someone has seen a video, then show them another clip. These variations are easy to grasp and typically how TV campaigns are planned and executed. Performance data can show what video actually works best online against a particular segment.
3. Localize the core message if it's applicable to the advertiser and can be executed efficiently. For example, a national retail brand wants to drive promotions through its local stores within their targeted geographic region.
Applying these ideas reduces friction and results in a manageable number of creative variations -- typically 4 to 2,000 -- with the key variables being the number of product or services offered by the advertiser, and geographic locations.
As Advertising Week continues, I am sure we will see many technological innovations that point to the future of display advertising. Between all of the keynotes, breakouts, booths, vendors and meetings going on, I look forward to a number of rich and spirited discussions that will ultimately drive the industry into the next phase of dynamic advertising.