Is creativity being replaced?

Creativity by JD Hancock FlickrMuch has been made about increasing prominence of technology vendors in the media sphere, with the Wall Street Journal being one among many to suggest that creativity has taken a back seat. This has been an industry-wide debate for some time, with marketers, creatives, agencies and vendors alike coming forward to defend human input within the marketing process.

In reality, we all know that machines cannot replace imagination, but could technology in fact be encouraging creative thought?

In recent years, technology has provided a whole plethora of new channels like smartphones and tablets, which have enabled advertisers to supplement premium, linear content like TV with complementary ads across devices. These devices’ personal nature has also prompted marketers to think less about creating broad, ‘safe’ ads that appeal to all demographics and audience segments, and more about tailoring creatives to specific audiences, targeting consumers with relevant content. Other contextual considerations can also be brought in, such as the time that the ad appears, the content it runs alongside, the user’s location, as well as the type of device the consumer is using.

Consumer expectations are rising too – a recent article in Campaign noted that Instagram ads, for example, need to be both beautiful and non-intrusive to be successful on the platform. This is part of a wider trend where consumers are spending increased amounts of time online and having a continuous experience uninterrupted by ads, with native ad formats and content marketing becoming increasingly important. Dynamic and skippable ads are also raising the bar and forcing brands to consider what consumers want to watch and how it complements the rest of their online experience.

All of this has resulted in a shift away from creating a set of ads to run across display and print, and longform video ads to run on TV. Ad formats like Vines and GIFS encourage advertisers to move beyond 60 second ad formats and think of new and innovative ways to grab the attention of distracted consumers – FIAT’s GIF TV ads are certainly indicative of marketers stepping outside of the confines of traditional advertising. The future is going to provide even more opportunities for creative agencies to think of new ways to make the most out of technology to engage consumers. Innovative tech like Oculus Rift and Myndplay are providing new ways for audiences to interact with media, and as these things eventually become mainstream brands will be able to use this increased consumer engagement to their advantage.

Nobody can deny that the face of advertising has changed beyond recognition, but creativity will always be its backbone. As the world throws forward new ideas and develops new technologies, and we all become increasingly connected, the outlets for creative thought can only increase – something that is incredibly exciting for our industry.

Nick Reid is managing director at TubeMogul