Spongecell's CEO On Programmatic Creative And IoT

Creative hasn't kept pace with the evolution of the advertising landscape in the past 10 years, according to Spongecell CEO Ben Kartzman. Spongecell, a creative management platform, aims to change that with "smarter programmatic creative." 

Spongecell churns a brand's data, catalog info on products, creative assets and feeds, through its platform for retargeting, data and content integrations, tag-based functions and more, to deliver an ad on display, mobile and video. (Kartzman said "it's only a matter of time" before linear TV, social and native will be among the channels available.)

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And Spongecell's ads can get to the one-to-one level. Take Australian grocery store Coles, for example. The brand gave Spongecell information on its customers, stores and changing weekly specials to create an enormous number of personalized ads based on specific items customers bought recently. 

Don't worry; there aren't tons of graphic designers and writers locked up for weeks creating each version of the ads. The campaign used Spongecell's CORE platform (Creative Optimization Relevance Engine), a self-learning platform that can create "unlimited creative variations," according to the company.

"A human doesn't touch any of this," Kartzman said about the Coles campaign.

Ironically, that human-free, automated method of advertising may lead to more personalized ads than ever before. Clients understand that if they want to connect to consumers, they need to do it in a way that's relevant, Kartzman said. Clients also want to see better performance, and serving more personalized creative drives better results than serving generic creative, he added. 

What about the Internet of Things and the ever-growing number of ways consumers share data about themselves? Kartzman said there's a fine line between creepy and acceptable, and it's important not to cross it. 

"We need to be smart about how we use the data," he said. He suggested some rules to avoid creeping users out. Spongecell doesn't use PII (personally identifiable information) -- but if you have someone's first name for some reason, don't use it, Kartzman said. And don't retarget someone 50 times for the same product, he added.

Spongecell's clients include AT&T, Bud Light, Ford, IKEA, Nike, JetBlue, JCPenney and P&G. Its partners include Oracle, Adobe Marketing Cloud, DoubleClick, Turn, Lotame and MediaMath.

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