Agencies Blend Creative, Programmatic, and Media Planning

Last quarter the advertising industry gathered at Cannes, and one of the things that was discussed was programmatic creative. Although “programmatic creative” seems like a contradiction in terms, it’s time to discuss how better creative and more precise targeting can help the industry fight the onslaught of ad blockers.

Ad agencies at Cannes always stress the creative, and the ad tech companies that gave the parties on their rented yachts talk about data. But letting the media planner into the discussion about data and creativity will get the right message to the right customer.

It’s one thing to do customer research and know what your messages should be, and to design creative based on good storytelling for that customer. But if the media planner is only buying to hit targets for reach and frequency, without adequate input into the process by which the story finds the customer it was created to find, the process will break down at the level of programmatic buying.

We look for media buying to become far more complex in the near future, as media planners learn about what goes on in the other departments of their agencies. And where media is bought almost wholesale by large agency trading desks, changes will also have to occur. No amount of good data and great creative will save a poorly designed buy. The buy may have to be broken down into smaller, more targeted pieces, and the creative changed for each piece.

… it’s important to distinguish between the “big idea” on the one hand, and dynamic creative optimization (DCO) on the other. DCO is widespread in display, though unevenly implemented, and is now coming to new formats like native and video.

“The next phase will be dynamic video capabilities,” said Jos Pamboris, chief product officer at Flashtalking. “The idea that you can run thousands of variants of your preproduction video has been available but hasn’t been hugely successful yet.”

So, a more nuanced take might be that the question of who owns “programmatic creative” is not a zero sum game. DCO can be reasonably handled by the marketer’s agency and technology partners, while creative agencies can incorporate customer data and known segments into their ideas. Creatives may also choose to alter their pre- and post-production workflow to allow for dramatically more versions of a video ad, for example. But that will take work.

Creatives are usually on a separate floor in agencies, or at least in a separate room. But that practice has only produced silos, as creatives often have no clue what is going on with either the customer data side or the media planning side. It only makes sense that if you re-organized agencies into cross-functional ad hoc teams, perhaps by account, perhaps by project, we’d get less intrusive, more effective advertising,