We imagine an ideal state of the universe in which each unique ad is perfectly matched in color, copy, visuals and motion to the specific tastes of each individual consumer and served up hot and ready in the precise moment they see the ad.
No two ads are exactly alike and each consumer sees a slightly different version with each ad exposure.
It’s nice to dream. This is the stuff winning client pitches are made of. As we all know however it is not, in fact, reality most of the time.
What we often get instead are generic banners that only vaguely align to some forgotten fragment of an audience selected in a DSP or social platform. Maybe.
This gap between generic reality and the personalized ideal has two sources:
Building personalized ads take a lot of time
Running tests and communicating between media and creative also takes a lot of time
Real people are sitting at computers, for hours each day, cranking out banners or managing the minutiae of digital media buying. The work is time consuming and people need to be paid.
So, it boils down to:
More ad personalization = More Design and Campaign Management Time = More Money
Brands and agencies must decide on a trade-off between building and testing greater numbers of creative versions to find the best performers or sacrificing personalization to the finance gods and opting for the expediency of a single banner set.
But what if we flip that equation? What if we could spend less time building each individual version? What if A/B testing of creative were automatic across platforms? What if new media insights could quickly inform new creative tests?
That would mean we could create more versions at a lower cost per ad! And if we had more versions, we could dial in better more personalized ad experiences through better testing!
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch but here are some ideas on how to take a few steps towards personalized advertising bliss.
Automate Banner Versioning
Most often design teams rely on standard design software to build both core creative concepts, asset packs and also individual banner sets for an ad campaign.
While an obvious approach, it actually creates a bottleneck by using powerful creative platforms to make many minor changes to a large number of individual banners. Not only is it labor intensive it creates challenges around asset management across the banner set(s).
While we’ll never take the Adobe suite from our creatives, there are a number of purpose built tools designed to take raw asset files (layered PSDs) and allow for automated editing across an entire set of potentially hundreds of versions.
These automation tools save considerable time from the monotonous tasks of banner versioning without detriment to the underlying creative process.
One of the biggest bottlenecks in building and executing personalized ad campaigns is the dreaded approval death spiral.
It’s that thing when the Creative Director takes off for like an ecstatic dance retreat or craft beer festival or something and then approvals pile up and when they’re finally back from Burning Man or the ashram with that guru who hugs people, there’s this huge email chain that they have to dig through to find the units to be approved and it’s been like 10 days already, but then right before they get approved the CD gets pulled into a pitch and it’ll be another 24 hours before she gets back to it and the media team can’t figure out why the creatives haven’t been approved because they were supposed to be live a week ago and all they needed was for the desktop versions to be resized for mobile and a bit of copy to be moved and that was done, the changes just haven’t been approved and now the client is mad because they don’t understand why the campaign didn’t go live on time and the junior media buyer is about to have a panic attack over the whole thing and…
What we’re saying is, that approvals should be made quick, easy and visible to everyone.
Pre-approved design parameters that allow changes to be made without subsequent approvals and easy one-touch access to quickly approve the most up to date versions all in the same shared platform take the pain out of approvals and might just save a media buyer’s life.
Automate Creative Performance Reporting
Brands want omni-channel campaigns. They invested good money in that killer creative concept and they want to leverage that sweet goodness all over the internet and beyond.
But omni-channel means omni-reporting interfaces. Omni-metrics. Omni-headaches if you’re trying to get a handle on what is working and what is not in a live campaign.
All this omni-channel confusion means that when creative teams do get potentially actionable feedback about the performance of their banner sets, it’s often in post campaign wrap reports and too late to be used!
Savvy brands help their media teams communicate creative performance information back to creative teams in real time across all channels. Of course, brands would need a lot of interns to handle all the back and forth, so instead they should look at ways to automate creative reporting.
Give the creative teams access to live campaign data and watch the juices flow on how to improve on the round of tests.
Kill the Email Threads!
Do you hate email? We hate email. Nobody likes email!
It’s an alright communication tool, but when managing complex media campaigns involving large banner sets and multiple media channels it results in a complex mishmash of errant email chains. We’ve seen chains over 200 emails long, with version after version of creatives and .xls media plans buried in attachments.
Using communication focused banner management platforms allows teams to collaborate, comment, request change and approvals on individual ad units or across whole banner sets, all in one shared workspace.
Opening communication between media and creative teams in this way is possibly the single greatest time saver of all. Get your teams out of the email mines and into the daylight of a simple open platform for all.
As your luck would have it until recently no such platform existed… so we built one!
Come check out all the cool possibilities to liberate your creativity and drive more personalization with Viewst!
Grant has spent much of the past two decades building new businesses in advertising and digital media. Today his primary focus and expertise is on the interplay between creative automation, AI, privacy and digital media performance for advertisers.