Beyond DCO: How Programmatic Creative is Evolving

Jenna Brillhart, Art Director of AdLabs, Xaxis NA

What if you could take the best that human creativity has to offer and apply it strategically and methodically in programmatic advertising environments?

Applied well, programmatic creative (PC) does just that.

Programmatic creative optimizes the best creative elements of a media strategy to deliver highly personalized campaigns, and therefore, better outcomes.

It is sometimes incorrectly confused with dynamic creative optimization (DCO). PC actually incorporates DCO while going much further. It works along the entire advertising value chain.

DCO alone allows digital creative teams to assemble more effective ads by working with machine learning to optimize towards the best performing creative. It allows for optimization to occur during data-driven, personalized campaigns.

Like DCO, PC helps creative constantly refine itself, delivering the right message to the right people, on the right devices. This is done using a combination of sophisticated algorithms and human input. Experts in this space are able to use the process to go beyond DCO and elevate the entirety of the creative and programmatic strategy, from the dynamic creative setup to optimizations and targeting.

PC works in three distinct ways within a programmatic campaign to build to a huge collective advantage:

  1. It utilizes Artificial Intelligence in the DSP (demand-side platform) for continuously optimized targeting based on a variety of customizable factors.
  2. It allows for strategic adjustments to the dynamic content that exists within the ad.
  3. It executes creative optimizations within the ad server, making each placement more effective.

Leveraging a wide range of data points and multivariate factors in real time, PC allows clients to test and improve their creative based on learnings from campaigns. It can be supplemented by DCO as part of this process, but encompasses a great deal more.

It can incorporate behavioral and geographic factors, demographic profiles, device types, even work across channels to insert the right type of message — video, images, rich media, or native advertising — in both mobile and desktop environments. Each new insertion means new learnings emerge and effectiveness is honed.

PC adds speed, scale, and automation to everything from ad production to targeting to timing in addition to the creative optimization that DCO affords.

New possibilities for brands

PC lets brands not only bring new awareness but also find, target, and re-target people who have shown an intent to continue their journey with the brand.

Instead of just sending variations of creative executions to their audiences as with DCO, brands can use programmatic creative techniques to identify new audiences. This creates a larger audience pool for targeting efficiencies.

Using PC, brands can efficiently prospect for customers and immediately personalize messages to them via algorithms that allow personalization at a more granular level than ever before. I call these “creative touchpoints” — decision trees that provide finer and finer targeting along with added reach in real time.

PC helps advertising teams work better, too. Creative content teams have new information to craft the right messages to first reach people, then continue the conversation. Strategy teams can use the learnings to identify potential customers and then cultivate prospects more effectively.

Every element is optimized

While it’s not simple to implement programmatic creative in this way, it is very achievable. This is something that Xaxis proudly brings to the table for our clients.

Investment into DMPs, DSPs, and brand safety has allowed for us to properly optimize towards finding the right user. However, low investment in creative content can make these efforts fall flat.

At Xaxis, we find the perfect balance in strategy, technology, and creative through our in-house production team, Xaxis AdLabs. Our division works to ensure that every brand’s needs are properly met by merging the right technology with the right creative strategy.

We believe that programmatic creative enhances each step of a digital campaign — planning, creative, buying, targeting, and messaging.

By utilizing programmatic creative, brands can slowly evolve to “always-on” solutions that allow them to constantly adapt their campaigns based on their needs. This allows for personalization as well as production efficiency, resulting in quicker turnaround times and creative content that resonates with their audience.

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