Technology Alone Does Not Make Great Advertising

Alex Dixie in Advertising

in Advertising

Within the world of advertising, technology is no longer optional. As consumers switch increasingly to consuming content digitally, advertising delivery has moved away from traditional channels to become a digitally-dominated sector. “Programmatic”, “real-time bidding”, “cross-device profiling” are all buzz words which are now used on a daily basis by those working in this sector. Hyper-targeting of consumers is being pushed by technology players as the ultimate goal for digital advertising: if you can deliver an advert to a consumer perfectly tuned to that consumer’s interests at the precise moment that consumer is most receptive to such an advert then you have reached the holy grail of advertising. The consumer will be compelled to click on the advert and your click through rate will be 100%; ultimate advertising efficiency. Whilst this may be true, and the technology behind these platforms is frankly astonishing at times, there is one area of digital advertising which many believe is being neglected – the creative.

Consumer annoyance

As we have covered on ADTEKR many times, one of the biggest talking points within the adtech industry currently is adblocking. A substantial percentage of consumers are using adblocking solutions to prevent the display of digital advertising as they traverse the online world. Why do they do this? Poor experiences of digital creative. Adverts that are annoying. Adverts that interfere with content. Adverts which interrupt their digital journey.

These adverts may be targeted perfectly to the consumer sitting in front of the device in question but the poor creative delivered results in the consumer not only failing to react to such adverts but actually reacting negatively to the point of blocking all future advertising as a result (from both the advertiser in question and the wider industry). Adverts should engage the consumer and make them want to interact, not annoy or irritate the consumer. Attention from annoyance is unlikely to result in any form of positive brand association for the advertiser.

Technology could be argued to have actually diminished the quality of advertising creative or at least diverted attention away from the advertising fundamentals. When advertisers were unable to effectively target consumers, the way to stand out and attract attention was to create effective, memorable creatives. Although this is still the case with certain advertisers (whose campaigns are notably outstanding in the market), many argue too much of today’s advertising is based solely on the tenet of “if it is targeted, it will be clicked”.

Can technology help?

Targeting technologies of course help campaigns. Effectiveness can be increased by a huge multiple by ensuring an advert is delivered to the right people at the right time. If, however, your starting point is negligible due to poor creative (i.e. were you to deliver that creative without targeting, your CTR would be close to 0%), then even 100x that figure will still be a very small return.

On the horizon, technology itself may help with finding a solution – programmatic creative allows the delivery of different creatives to different targeted consumers, delivering advertising content which is tailored to the preferences of the recipient consumer. One of the pioneers of this technique is Unilever, whose Axe campaign in the US generated over 25,000 permutations per consumer segment of a video creative for targeted delivery. These changes between permutations varied from subtle to extensive but resulted in a noticeably different advert for each consumer subset.

And looking further ahead, technology firms are also exploring the use of artificial intelligence to dynamically adjust creatives to increase effectiveness. This summer saw the launch of the first artificially intelligent poster campaign which used a Darwinian algorithm and Microsoft Kinect sensors to evolve the digital creative and assess the response from passing consumers.

Back to basics

Even with exciting new technologies looking to help with improving creative, it is important to remember that technology cannot in itself replace good creative design.

In short, get the basics right and technology can amplify your message and take your campaign to new heights; get them wrong and it will not act as a magic pill to create a wondrous advertising campaign. Make sure focus is kept both on what’s in the rectangle as well as to whom the rectangle is being delivered.

Technology Alone Does Not Make Great Advertising was last modified: September 18th, 2015 by Alex Dixie