CPXi Gets To Bottom Of Programmatic Creative To Achieve Scale

As real-time bidding and programmatic media buying become more commonplace in the online advertising industry, the question of creative will need to take center stage. Jeff Hirsch, CMO of CPXi, says that as brands adopt programmatic buying, they face a new challenge: the ability to deliver creative in real time. Enter the need for what Hirsch calls “programmatic creative.”

“Programmatic creative is using technology to automatically create and iterate ads on the fly, in any size, that can be served in real time,” says Hirsch. “This means more creative flexibility and more efficient campaigns.”

In the same way that programmatic media increased the use of technology for more efficient media buying, technology is being used to help advertisers build creative effectively.  Hirsch remarks that this kind of tool has been needed since programmatic media first started, but advertisers were focused on getting the media buying done right first.



Over time, more pieces of the puzzle will come into play in the programmatic arena, Hirsch says. “Media being the first one, creative the second one. I think we’ll see analytics as another one, and of course, all the ancillary things that have to come with that, such as viewability, attribution, etc,” he adds. “All the pieces of the digital media puzzle need to be converted from the old way of doing business to the programmatic way of doing business.”

While it might sound similar, programmatic is different from dynamic display. Dynamic display uses a template and pulls creative elements from data files based on a consumer’s activity. This can be very effective in a retargeting mode, but as Hirsch explains, 40% of premium publishers will not accept dynamic creative tags. This is due to creative that is changing in real time and the inability for the publisher to review the ad. Premium publishers would not want to run ads on their site that they cannot review, and programmatic creative solves this problem.

“Programmatic creative is syncing with the industry in a more specific way where you are still creating many iterations of your message in all different sizes, [but] the output of that is a reviewable ad that can go through the approval process that’s still required by most publishers,” explains Hirsch. “It is taking the concept of what dynamic was designed to do and putting it into place in a way that is much more consistent with how this industry does business.”

The idea is not to automate the creative process, which will always be done by people. Instead, the goal is to automate the production of the ads. “The ideas, the concepts, the strategies and even the copy still have to come from people,” suggests Hirsch. “What we’re talking about is automating the ability to take those elements and put them into display and mobile units very efficiently and effectively by taking those things that are premium, such as your copy, your concept -- those kinds of things -- and then using the tools to make all of that reach more people, more effectively and more personally.”

Programmatic creative will likely go through the same type of lifecycle as programmatic media buying. “It should be accelerated somewhat because of the acceptance of the use of technology to facilitate digital media, and it will still have to go through that curve where you get early adopters, and then you start to see the product mature where more and more people recognize the value of it and take advantage of it,” estimates Hirsch.

Programmatic creative can address an important problem and help to bring programmatic to the next level. I predict innovation like this will increase performance and streamline the process. Hats off to CPXi.

5 comments about "CPXi Gets To Bottom Of Programmatic Creative To Achieve Scale".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, January 21, 2014 at 10:22 a.m.

    Achieving scale in the media supply is easy. You can do it for ten cents per thousand on Facebook if all you want are worthless impressions. But scaling the consumer demand is something else again, and it has nothing to do with what you describe here.

  2. The digital Hobo from, January 21, 2014 at 10:38 a.m.

    This is what companies like Eyeview have been doing in video for the past few years. Essentially pre-rendering all the permutations of an ad at the start of the campaign, so the ad server can respond in real time.

  3. Walter Sabo from SABO media, January 21, 2014 at 10:52 a.m.

    All true. All of these problems were solved in 2007 by HITVIEWS. We put brand products and messages in WebStar videos that get millions of organic views. Creative "turnaround" is hours not weeks or months.

    212 600 5686

  4. Myles Younger from Canned Banners, January 21, 2014 at 7:35 p.m.

    Automated ad production has been my mantra since 2010 and before: My company even developed a one-of-a-kind API for this in 2012: However, having talked to brands, agencies, and ad tech vendors about automating ad production (as opposed dynamic ad creative), it's a tough sell. First, creatives (who need to buy into the idea) don't like the idea of templates, even nice ones. Second, an agency's gross client billings are going to fall when they start to shed costs and automate various steps of ad production, so you're going to find resistance along those lines, even if no one says it out loud. Third, it's difficult to communicate both the concept and the need to the client side. Fourth, the use cases tend to be very fringe, so it's difficult to achieve scale with any one advertiser or agency. Fifth, the industry is probably going to keep moving toward 3rd party ad creative tags, and away from self-contained creative files such as SWFs and JPEGs, and once you're running 3rd party ad tags, the barriers to incorporating dynamic elements (ex: real-time pricing) all but evaporate. Sixth (and this is similar to no. 5), once you're running more than a few dozen separate creatives, basic ad creative (as opposed to fully dynamic ad creative), no matter how efficiently it was generated, becomes REALLY cumbersome, as each file needs to be uploaded into an ad server or DSP, etc, etc. Logically, this brings us right back to "dynamic ads" as opposed to automating the production of "basic" display ads. My two cents from having been there and done that.

  5. Kyle Csik from MAGNA Global, January 23, 2014 at 11:49 a.m.

    Good article Skip - tell Tom I said hi if you get a chance. When Facebook launched FBX, it required all buyers to host the actual creatives which basically means no dynamic creatives. Criteo somehow solved this problem (Netmining may have as well) despite their forte being dynamic creatives in display so, to me, it looks like Criteo has this arena cornered and is likely going to use it to open up those premium publishers that won't allow dynamic creatives as well. This could have implications in getting branding dollars into the programmatic space a bit faster but I think that endeavor will revolve more around the ad environment rather than the actual ad - much more difficult to control.

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