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Why the merging of creative & programmatic has taken center stage

The first phase of programmatic advertising and media buying was focused on the shift away from ad network bundling to precision targeting, cost reduction and display-led automation.

Now it’s the turn of the most compelling part of advertising – dynamic and creative brand content, to take center stage. As usual, the US market has led the way with the IAB Technology Laboratory releasing a Dynamic Content Ad Standard last month.

The new standard will be open for industry comment this month and, as the IAB US states, “the schema is designed for creative and technical professionals who build and deliver ads on a range of platforms, and is programming language agnostic. Media agencies and operations teams can also use the standard to track distinct creative assets and report on their performance.”

In essence, a new, uniform standard is on its way, which will have implications for ad operations people, creative teams, agencies, technology partners and brand advertisers. This development will boost the power of targeting and optimisation technology, because the creative messaging will move to the forefront of campaigns. Savvy brands will realise they can deploy better, sequential, targeted advertising – and dynamic creative content and assets will make the difference, as they can powerfully influence the entire customer journey.

As brand advertisers apportion more of their budget to digital and produce more mobile-first content, the creative elements simply have to improve to drive better performance. The new standard is aimed at helping all players within the digital ecosystem build, serve and measure dynamic content in advertisements.

Crucially, the IAB sought the input of about forty technology vendors and leading publishers to build the draft standard. The industry has then collectively put its stamp of approval on the move to better creative. Premium publishers such as TIME, ESPN.com, Forbes Media and Mashable, were part of the working group, indicating these players want change, and they want their ad slots to be more creative, and targeted.

There are two distinct technologies involved in the new world of dynamic, personalised digital advertising. One is dynamic creative optimisation, and the other is programmatic creative. The first one, also known as DCO, enables advertisers to personalise ads, deploy data and targeting tools, and use creative optimisation tools to get the best, most relevant, version of the ad in front of the consumer.

Programmatic creative, on the other hand, is actually a combination of technologies that facilitate impactful creative storytelling and capitalise on the things that make programmatic so useful in media and audience targeting.

While programmatic buying has increased efficiency through automation, the opportunity within programmatic creative is to leverage data, media, and creative technologies to craft an engaging narrative that reacts in a fluid manner to the customer journey. It’s important the industry gets it right, as the adoption of programmatic creative and DCO technology can improve overall ad effectiveness.

The media buying and creative teams have to work closer together, at the agency level, in order for dynamic content ad-serving to take off. As video content, and consumption, explode across the Internet, collaboration between these teams will become more necessary, if campaign objectives are to be met.

The digital industry needs more relevant, personalised high-impact creative advertising, across desktop, mobile, tablet, and maybe through the VR lens in the future.

Brand advertisers will benefit because advertising will be personalised, deliver the right messages to consumers who have already shown a strong interest in their products, and conversion rates will increase.

Most importantly, advertising will become more like a service to consumers and the old battleground of creative storytelling will rise to the top again.

Sophia Toh

Sophia Toh is Head of Strategy and Business Development, Southeast Asia at Sizmek.