Sir Martin Sorrell recently captured headlines and the topic of many water cooler chats when he proclaimed, “We’re not in the advertising business anymore.” He did not, of course, mean that WPP’s agencies were soon to adorn their office entrances with, “CLOSED … Going out of business” signs while he shifted focus to some other endeavor. Instead his statement seems to reflect a new reality at WPP and likely across much of the modern digital advertising ecosystem. The nature of “creative” in the advertising business is quickly changing.
In the past, the darlings of the ad business were the Don Draperesque creative master minds that could write catchy jingles, whip up culture defining ad copy, and cut cinema quality ad rolls. In the present, the new darlings write Python algorithms, build data warehouses, plot out ad decision waterfalls and execute campaigns on buying platforms that can leverage real time data signals to enable creative personalization. Creativity is still at the core, but the creative discipline has shifted from attempting to embody the brand’s essence in a single expression to creatively leveraging data signals and available content to craft a near one-to-one conversation with an audience.
To do this is no simple task. This new creative enterprise requires that you have a mix of digital designers to collate and adapt available creative assets, digital developers to wire executions into the ad decision platform and operational specialists to set up the audience buying systems and manage ongoing optimization. This is a primary reason why Xaxis is so important for this new creative paradigm.
Consider, for example, a simple product like a remedy for the common cold or flu. The traditional approach might hone in on how hard it is to sleep when you are sick with a catchy “night time, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy-head, fever, so you can rest medicine” ad phrase. The marketer would buy enough media to assure that when the audience is sick, the brand would be top of mind. This new approach might still lean to some degree on broadcast media to introduce the product to its audience and develop credibility. However, the majority of focus would be on identifying relevant signals that could identify real time consumers that need the product, updating ad imagery, video, copy and etc. to personalize the offer around the individual.
So, what are these signals?
There are at least three major data signals for creative personalization. Three of these major data signals to focus on are:
- Behavioral. Behavioral signals use past behavior to predict future outcomes. Imagine our cold remedy. When an individual navigates to the brand’s site or a participating retailer to the cold and flu section, this behavior signals that a cold remedy product is likely relevant to this user. Other behaviors could include previous interaction with a brand’s creative, purchase of a related product, or some other online or offline activity that signaled some level of interest.
- Audience Data. Currently Xaxis’ Turbine Audience Buying DMP has approximately five hundred proprietary audience segments and many more custom client audience segments. These audiences include foodies, outdoor adventures, soccer moms, and more. Each of these segments can be used to identify idiosyncrasies that might help marketers tailor the offer to a given audience member. Consider our cold remedy. A frequent business traveler might be messaged with a message about a good night’s sleep before a big meeting while a parent might be targeted with a “safe for your little one” message.
- Environmental. These signals are external to the audience. They impact the environment of the audience member shaping perceptions and needs. Common environmental signals are: weather, time of day, calendar event, and etc. Assume one last time our cold remedy. The current outbreak of a cold virus in a given area could greatly impact the relevance of a message about a remedy, and the time of day could impact the relevancy of a drowsy versus non-drowsy dosage.
All of these signals can work as both triggers for audience buying and variables to update personalized creative. For example, the outbreak of the flu can tell the system that now is a good time to buy an audience member in a certain location. This is a trigger. Whereas the same signal could impact the messaging from a “get over your cold fast” to a “beat the flu’s aches and pains.”
As you can imagine, the sheer number of variables both as media buying triggers and creative personalization signals require a sophisticated team of specialists to pull off and an advanced platform to execute against. This is where Xaxis provides great value in the marketplace. Our Ad Labs team assists external agencies in bringing to life the personalized creative, our programmatic ad operational specialists flight the campaign and enable the triggers and signals, and our Turbine Audience DMP orchestrates the buying decisions and feeding these advanced signals to the creative platform.
Learn more on Dynamic Creative Optimization here.