The need for creativity in the programmatic age

Axe's Romeo campaignCreativity is at the heart of good advertising, but with programmatic trading growing at average rates of 15% per quarter in the UK and 291% during the past 12 months throughout Europe, is the automated nature of programmatic inadvertently killing this creative heart?

Many visionaries of programmatic predict a standardised media landscape with display ad sizes and formats that fit the automated templates, but these are as restrictive as the standard banner – which has not changed shape or size since its inception in 1994. If this happens, creativity will certainly suffer as we attempt to force square pegs in round holes. Instead, we should be pushing for a programmatic world that has creativity at its core.

The future of programmatic isn’t one in which creativity fights for equal recognition alongside the technology. It’s one where programmatic is recognised for removing the heavy lifting associated with administrative campaign tasks and allows creativity to flourish.

Imagine an enhanced form of programmatic advertising that ensures pre-roll ends up in the best environment and reaches the right audience, but it also chooses a creative that pairs the right format with the right viewer, rather than using a format simply for standardisation’s sake. Programmatic crosses both channels and screens and the creative needs to follow suit.

Applying this creative approach to programmatic can make waves. Axe, the Unilever brand,
recently completed a programmatic ad campaign that remade the story of Romeo 100,000 times. Using customized creatives that were delivered based on four target segments, Axe was able to create 25,000 permutations of the same ad for each segment – and programmatic allowed these creatives to be optimized based on how consumers responded.

A recent GHD campaign that Adludio worked on consisted of several permutations of the same ad and was optimized throughout the life of the campaign to deliver the best results. Other programmatically delivered campaigns have shown how useful it is re-prioritise time in order to create an advertisement that truly speaks to the target audience.

This is the beauty of being creative in the programmatic age; with programmatic automating the
way ads are delivered, more energy can be placed where it matters, towards the actual creative.

At its core, advertising is about finding creative solutions to business problems and we shouldn’t lose sight of that as data and technology change our industry. The future of programmatic is not simply about improved efficiencies, but also about paving the way for a positive shift in creative thinking as well.

Jacques Kotze is co-founder and CTO of Adludio