Is RTB Killing the Creative Star?

  • by December 5, 2014

If video killed the radio star, is programmatic slowly killing the star creative director?

Most creative agencies leverage the virtually unlimited canvas and interactivity available in rich media for their brands.  Just last year, 75% of ANA executives surveyed said that rich media would play a larger role in their branding,

But the reality is that much of this great creative is being shelved in real-time bidding (RTB) today, creating inconsistency for the consumer across RTB and premium campaigns.  And as RTB commands more and more share of the overall pool of digital dollars, digital creative is forced to regress to the lowest common denominator.

Why?  Standardization.  Standardization is better for quality assurance, maximizing liquidity, making onboarding new inventory easier, and promoting scale.

So how do we get standardization without compromising creative opportunities?



Most publishers that feed these exchanges can accept expandables, pushdowns, sliders, rollovers and sidekicks. 

By leveraging these opportunities along with technology that scans the page, buyers can bid only on expandable inventory, for example, in real time, thereby ensuring that innovative creative is delivered to the right environment and not wasted.

Given the added value that rich media can bring to programmatic, every player in the advertising ecosystem needs to sit up and take note.


Digital branding is about cutting through the clutter, building consistency across channels, and avoiding display “blindness” that can happen across digital.  Rich media has played a significant role in creating incredible ad and brand experiences over the years.  And yet while most brands still leverage rich media across their direct buys, they are notably absent in programmatic.  Worse yet, in a mobile environment, unless you are serving an HTML5 ad, you’re missing out on the rich benefits entirely – serving a static image that’s unlikely to engage.

Publishers/Ad Networks

When trading desks are negotiating private marketplace deals or buying audiences, how do publishers differentiate themselves, especially if they are not a top-five “must buy” publisher in their market?

One way is to promote rich-media creative capabilities and make them available as a programmatic marketing platform (PMP) or RTB.  A premium can be negotiated as part of a PMP, or simply reap the rewards of increased liquidity at market rates in RTB.

Creative Agencies

Creative agencies create cutting-edge digital creative every day.  Some are for site-specific campaigns (e.g. home page takeovers or custom creative), and some are for more broad appeal.

However, much of this creative is collecting dust in a programmatic world after a one-time debut.  In these cases, there is no good reason why the creative agency cannot package killer creative with programmatic media and leverage incremental budgets.

Trading Desks/Media Agencies

As more branding dollars migrate to programmatic, trading desks and media agencies must identify avenues to leverage high-impact creative.  Additionally, rich media has been shown to drive engagement by nearly 55% over non-rich ads, so the application for direct response campaigns is strong as well.

So take note. A programmatic buy is no excuse for lame ads. In fact, it’s the ideal way to extract maximum value from your most creative assets.
3 comments about "Is RTB Killing the Creative Star?".
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  1. Sanjaya Molligoda from AdSparc, December 7, 2014 at 7:09 p.m.

    Very relevant post for today's programmatic echo system and exactly what has been focusing on for the last year on bringing both supply and demand in one place for high impact ads at scale with also the creative studio to help advertisers and agencies to easily build engaging ads at low cost or free of charge.

    The programmatic space needs to attract brand dollars and with ad units like side skins, push downs, light box's and billboards that are sold on not just a CPM model but also on an engagement basis (CPE/CPC) we are hoping to bring both brand and performance together in one marketplace.

  2. Technorati Media from ., December 8, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.

    Don't blame RTB. Your article clearly states that brands are still having rich media ads created and selling them directly, but not through programmatic channels. Seems like brands are killing the creative star, not RTB.

  3. Anni Paul from BoscoSystems, December 28, 2014 at 10:35 p.m.

    You're trying to knock down a peg a whole new advertising genre that hasn't even had time to mature yet. I think the technology itself has come a long way already, particularly in how it has leveled the playing field for the small guys in this game. I think it's exciting myself. Like programmatic trading of stocks, this is a smart and hyper sensitive way of making mobile advertising more effective. Props to the likes of Twitter, Airpush, and others who have had the foresight to get into mobile RTB now because they recognize this "future" phenomenon isn't so far off after all...

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