Creative Thinking

What’s stifling creativity in the online space?

Thursday 26 May, 2016

As part of The Digital Trading Awards Programme we hear from Matthew Moore, Brand Solutions Director, Audience2Media who talks about the issue of stifling creativity in the online space.

With the advent of programmatic buying processes, it seems the core focus of all talk on digital media is centred on targeting applications and automated buying processes. This is unsurprising, no other advertising medium can boast the same measurability, accuracy and quantitative results one finds when running ads through computers. The value of this data driven approach has been of great benefit to advertisers, and in turn programmatic buying is growing rapidly. In 2015 over 66% of UK ad spend went towards programmatic buying.

However, despite all this talk about what goes on behind the screens in terms of big data, targeting, and buying structures; it seems some advertisers are still missing a key ingredient in how they’re engaging their target audience. The key ingredient is the actual creative being delivered. It seems some advertisers are failing at the last hurdle in drawing the user’s attention with an effective creative. We always hear rumours of banner blindness, and maybe this is the reason why. A quick Google search of “Best ads of All Time” will rarely come up with anything other than TV and occasionally Outdoor creatives. Although these formats do have quite a few years on digital, when was the last time you heard someone say, “Wow, I saw an amazing banner ad last night!” So what’s stifling creativity in the online space?

With the immediate adoption of HTML5 over the last 12 months, little has changed within the creative world. Advertisers need to invest in producing dynamic ads allowing online users to interact with their brand through the creative. HTML5 allows for ads to expand, integrate product feeds, feature video content, incorporate links to social media entities and more. Creatives can essentially become self-contained micro-sites, the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, many creative companies are unable to keep up with the rapid changes in technology. As a result, many teams simply opt for standard GIF creatives for ease, eliminating any potential of amplifying interactivity and brand engagement with the use of rich media formats.

It’s this reason that In-House creative solutions from AdTech providers are so attractive to advertisers. It’s these players who are driving the most innovative creative designs for online advertising. They are the ones investing in creating rich, high engaging formats in order to capture the online users at the right moment, with the most effective ad format, to enhance brand affinity. One might find that for initial awareness and for the purpose of gathering data on engaging audiences, standard IAB formats provide unmatched scale due to cost effectiveness. But, using data gathered from these formats, high impact creatives can be used to greater effect. This minimises wastage of these more premium formats, and importantly drives these relevant users further down the purchasing funnel.

To take a slight step back - it should also be noted that a core tenant of online advertising creative is that it must entice the users to engage, not force them. For too long publishers have allowed intrusive and irrelevant ads to be displayed on their media and are now suffering the consequences. Behavioural advertising delivering relevant and engaging ads on the right content will inevitably drive better brand responses.

I believe the important message is that we should use the current technology, not just to ensure best targeting and most cost effective ad spots, but to build brand interaction with engaging formats. The idea shouldn’t just be to push ads towards relevant people, but to push great ads towards relevant people.

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