Personalizing Advertising With Real-Time Creative

Marketers have long sought the ability to deliver messages specifically tailored to individual consumers.  The idea of sending the right message at the right time to the right consumer is a marketer's silver bullet—a way to achieve more efficient ad buys and loftier conversion ratios.

Over the years, the industry has taken a few baby steps toward this elusive goal. Now, thanks to real-time creative technology (RTC), we’re closer than ever to achieving what had once been thought impossible. RTC is creative that is able to automatically and instantaneously customize itself to a specific consumer, using information like the consumer’s gender, browsing behavior or location, to name but a few examples.

Traditionally, advertisers placed the same display ad in front of all consumers and hoped for the best. This “spray-and-pray” tactic is massively inefficient. Moreover, because designing ads and buying media takes time, advertisers needed to design creative long before the ads would actually go live, meaning that ads were always lagging behind the most current events and trends. 



RTC helps solve these inefficiencies. Rather than serving the same ad to many consumers, RTC allows advertisers to customize the creative to match the individual. In a sense, it allows for bespoke advertising. Plus, recognizing that advertising developed for a particular audience segment three months ago may be irrelevant today, RTC allows advertisers to load creative elements in advance and then choose what to display on the fly, resulting in more current and responsive campaigns.

Consider two car shoppers: a man schlepping through a frigid Pennsylvania winter and a woman sunning on her porch in balmy South Florida. Does it really make sense to send the same automobile ad to each of them?

With real-time creative, the woman would receive an ad showing a red convertible suitable for driving to the beach, and the man would see an ad for a black SUV capable of navigating snowy roads. The tailor-made content would appear instantly, offering a targeted message that would increase the likelihood that the consumers will make a purchase.

RTC is part of the natural progression of online advertising. The last few years have witnessed the rapid proliferation of real-time bidding (RTB) using online exchanges in which suppliers sell ad space, in real time, to the highest bidder. With RTB exchanges, advertisers have been able to use a viewer’s website browsing habits to deliver a targeted ad in a matter of milliseconds.

The power of RTB’s audience targeting capabilities is readily apparent, and RTB continues to attract marketer interest and elicit higher prices. Forrester Research projects that by 2017, rates for digital advertising traded via online exchanges will reach $6.64 per 1,000 impressions, more than double the current rate of $3.17, and total display advertising spend through exchanges will rise to about $8.3 billion, from less than $2 billion today.

RTB brings the power of data to media placement; RTC does the same for creative, producing better messaging and enabling marketers to reach their intended audiences in more effective ways. RTC draws upon the same Big Data technology as RTB — cookie matching, tracking tags, IP addresses and more — to deliver images and words appropriate for a particular viewer. It is relevant content tailored instantaneously and delivered seamlessly — a marketer’s dream.

RTC platforms will facilitate more efficient advertising spending, improve ROI for advertisers and media buyers, and contribute to better end-user experiences. Moreover, recent technical advances have made things easier to use for advertisers and agencies and addressed many of the privacy concerns associated with the first generation of behaviorally targeted ads that “followed” users to different sites online.

Aligning data, media and creative in an RTC platform will replace the one-size-fits-all models of the past with relevant messaging in real time. Its rewards will be evident across advertising’s entire ecosystem, enabling marketers to reach targeted users with more precision and less expense.

Conceptually, RTC is premised on the principle that everything changes, from seasons and climate to consumer interests and needs. RTC takes a snapshot of those variables in real time and incorporates them into a timely and relevant consumer message. Digital marketers are taking giant leaps forward as advanced technology enables better capture, analysis and leveraging of consumer data. Using this information, RTC will put a new face on interactive advertising, one that at any given moment will look a lot like the end user’s.

3 comments about "Personalizing Advertising With Real-Time Creative ".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, March 1, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.

    Is RTC real time creative, or more aptly named real time components? Minutely customized creative can't really be done in real time, it is far too laborious. Is RTC more about selection of prebuilt elements that are matched to attributes of online audience segments, assembled by script according to the attribute classes, then served?

  2. Patrick Giblin from 451 Degrees Inc, March 1, 2013 at 3:11 p.m.

    Some good points in this. Advertising must be reflective of Audience to be effective. What we fail to remember is that Audience needs to FIND content that relates to them first. Getting the right content is becoming more viral driven. See Harlem Shake? Once there the interest in Advertising should match the content being seen. If reading about Cars, then make the Ads related to the Users and Commenters of that Content?

    Comments are what really matter Ben...Cookies are going to be harder to keep and use due to privacy and the fact they are usually dated within days if not hours for any given user. Meta Data for Keyword Search and Advertising being determined by the Content owners is fleeting. It can be misleading many times too.

    Take a look at what we have created (Links below). Would love to discuss at your convenience and forum of choice. You do seem to have a much stronger grasp than many in this issue and landscape of opportunity...Cheers


  3. Ben Kartzman from Spongecell, March 1, 2013 at 4:27 p.m.

    @Henry - Yes. Real-Time Creative technology allows you to control individual elements of an ad, but the beauty of this generation of the technology—as opposed to previous iterations—is that the number of elements one can control is truly myriad. We’re not talking just about serving an SUV ad to the snowbound and a convertible to the sun drenched; rather, what we’ll see with this generation of the technology is the ability to control all the constituent elements of an ad and control them independently. In effect, therefore, advertisers will be able to use Real-Time Creative technology to serve two totally different ads to two totally different people—different copy, different art, different interactive features and so on. Obviously, there will always be a need for an overarching creative vision and brands and their agencies will continue to supply these visions, but Real-Time Creative will allow agencies to do more, be more flexible, more responsive to the consumer and, in the end, more effective.

    @Patrick - Yes. Advertising needs to follow the audience and the audience shifts quicker and more dramatically than ever before. Advertisers need flexibility of placement as well as flexibility of creative.

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