November 1, 2020


In a world where nearly everyone is always online, there is no offline.

Article: The Right Creative, The Right Targeting – Matching the Pieces

Programmatic is smart but you need the right message

Programmatic marketing has the potential to make truly responsive media a reality. With the widespread adoption of technology today’s consumer can be reached in highly personalised and nuanced ways that were previously unavailable to marketers.

However, in many cases creative has struggled to keep up with this spectacular opportunity…

Some marketers approach online creative with an outdated broadcast mentality and they miss out on a chance to utilise the advanced technology with targeted creative.

With one-size-fits-all digital banners (that have dominated the web so far) audiences are being offered what are in effect mini versions of press and TV executions. But in today’s online that is more and more compressed and viewer controlled, you need to rethink how you talk to customers.

It’s time to change the way we think.

Digital has put the power with the consumer and reinforced the paramount importance of relevance.

Relevance with regards to the specific audience, when and where they are exposed to your message and the role that
your message plays in enhancing, rather than intruding in that exact moment.

Buying well is only the start of a successful campaign

So far, the focus of the media industry has been firmly on increasing the quality and efficiency of online media buying.

Technology has made amazing strides, making it easier to select and bid for units that will target particular audiences at particular moments in their day.

But with this focus on technology the fundamentals of communicating are often overlooked and creativity has become secondary – or at least
not fully taken advantage of.

To get the best results, we still need the right message for the right audience – at the right time.

So what’s gone wrong?

Why is it so hard to do what good marketing professionals have always done in the past – connect with the consumer?

It could be . . .
A lack of creative sources; in a recent survey 66% of marketers cited that as a limiting factor, and 55% said they had insufficient operational resources.

Marketers also say that targeted campaigns are too small or there is a lack of client interest to
merit increased investment.

And some marketers consider online advertising as purely a numbers game:
“Get enough impressions, or clicks and the rewards will outweigh the waste, regardless of the appropriateness of the creative.”

Unfortunately weight of numbers doesn’t always work in an arena where the consumer is king. Especially now that consumers have the ability
to block ads they don’t like, and property owners won’t allow ill-considered creative to annoy jealously guarded viewers.

What’s the solution?

If building ads that resonate with a particular audience at a particular time of their day seems time-consuming and prohibitively expensive – CHANGE THE APROACH TO LAYOUT AND MESSAGING.

The consumer enjoys the personalisation that technology has given them; they appreciate the freedom to celebrate their individuality in their social media choices and browsing preferences. They are unlikely to change their habits to make it convenient for advertisers.

The smart algorithms we can utilise today were created so marketers could step into the consumer’s shoes, and that’s the task that creative must fulfil.

‘Match the moment’ with customisable ad templates

By recycling ideas devised for press and TV in the online space, marketers risk producing ads that are not fit for purpose.

Instead they should endeavour to build messages specifically for online, utilising customised ad templates so messages can
be individualised and tailored for context using formats that change out easily.

A componentised approach to ad layout also provides an efficient method for responding to any metrics that are being fed back to campaign planners, ensuring the campaign team can measure, evaluate and evolve the messaging.

Dress for the part, limit the detail and understand the moment

Go native and integrate with the culture of the property you’ve bought space in. Look like you belong and there’s more chance your message
is going to resonate.

If possible, build short-form ads that work in the online space.

Cut, and then cut again. You know that the client’s wish list isn’t made for online, so push back – your campaign’s success depends on it.

Respond to lean-in and lean-out environments with creative that recognises the needs of the viewer on different devices. Think about how you use a smartphone or a tablet and build your messages accordingly.

It’s a golden age for silent movies

Video can be a powerful force across all devices if it’s created with the device in mind.

  • Assume that your video will at least initially play with no sound
  • If you haven’t hooked the viewer in 3 seconds you’ve lost them
  • Consider that mobile viewing is hardly ever in the landscape format of TV

Given these constraints it’s hard to see how a compelling video can be built, and yet the use of and demand for video content is exploding across social platforms, in niche markets and with mass-market publishers.

The demand for video is practically insatiable, yet despite its prevalence it’s sobering to realise that 98% of video fails to get shared. The Holy Grail of ‘going viral’ happens to very few of the millions of videos released online.

Four Oscar-winning rules for video

  • Set your goals with clarity of purpose
  • Be authentic – you can fit in but be yourself
  • Work with the mute button on
  • Test and learn because distribution is key and no one will share it if they can’t see it or it’s a pain to load

Decide who she or he is

Building an accurate Buying Persona is at least as important as deciding what you want to say to them, because the buying persona defines HOW YOU SAY IT.

The Buying Persona should go beyond demographics, and draw on the very rich information feeding back through metrics to build a personalised view of the audience. Motivations and goals; their behaviour patterns and the triggers they are likely to respond to should all be included in the creative brief.

Become your own research laboratory

There are lots of opinions about what works best with various audiences, and much of the advice you can find is valuable, but that shouldn’t blind you to your own experiences.

With online marketing you have a golden opportunity to research the triggers that your audience responds to, and componentised ad templates are an efficient platform for testing and measuring the response rates you get from different creative treatments.

Start with small variations to what you already know, testing visuals, colours, copy treatments and other elements. Build up a repository of knowledge that can feed back into your creative briefs. In doing so you will ensure that in addition to being effective, your marketing avoids stagnation, delivering fresh and responsive messaging.

Avoid the pitfalls that cause viewers to block your ads

  • Slow-loading ads (especially on mobile)
  • Long video ads that block content
  • Full page ads (it’s hard to look like you’re part of the show when you’ve squeezed everything else out)
  • Autoplays and pop-ups


As advanced as programmatic marketing is, it can’t do the job on its own. It is time to bring the creative back into the planning process and customise your message. Do it right at the beginning of a campaign’s inception to really take advantage of the latest technology with a creative that resonates and captures your customers attention.

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