Large marketers are adopting dynamic creative in greater and greater numbers. But for this technology to reach the mainstream, marketers must first answer the question of how to scale it effectively and efficiently.
For large consumer packaged goods (CPG) advertisers, the practical question is not only how to scale, but how to do so across multiple brands simultaneously. The prospect of coordinating variable strategy, creative, media, and analytics teams across multiple agencies for multiple campaigns across 50-plus brands can at times seem too daunting to even attempt.
While dynamic creative requires additional thought and planning for marketers in all verticals, CPG has a unique challenge. In retail, travel, telco, and other categories that are well-developed for programmatic creative, you have the advantage of a single brand with far fewer campaigns and website interactions to guide automated logic-driven content, and larger budgets are allocated per campaign.
CPG does not have any of these advantages. So for CPG companies to realize the full benefits of dynamic creative, they can push for changes to the process that agencies use to plan and execute online ad campaigns. It’s an institutional shift that absolutely can be activated, if CPG marketers know how to ask for it.
• Expand the creative brief to cover more target audiences: Most creative briefs tend to follow a familiar structure: They describe a singular “most valuable consumer,” explain what they think/feel/believe about the brand today, describe what they should think/feel/believe after experiencing the advertising, and describe the unique insight or selling proposition that will provoke that change in thought.
But in the world of dynamic creative, a marketer doesn’t have to settle for a single consumer profile. A brief can exist for each consumer type that can contribute to sales.
For example, while a campaign might target the elusive “working mom,” dynamic creative presents an opportunity to speak differently to a working mom with young children versus one with teens. Further, we can speak to those moms situationally: a different message during the work day, at the softball game, after work on a weekday, or before a major holiday.
• Develop a messaging architecture: Creatives yearn to flex their narrative storytelling prowess. Message architectures allow them to do just that, by describing the way the key selling message can be enriched and made more relevant to a consumer as it is delivered over time and circumstance. Recognizing context is critical here: Consumers experiencing ads have both an online context as well as a real-world context. A message architecture forces creative and media agencies to collaborate to create and prioritize the grid of relevant contexts for which we need a different message.
• Build out the asset library that will be plugged into the frameworks: This is often the most challenging part of the process: to scale your copy development, find or create the visual assets, resize all copy lines, images, and animations for each ad size, and plan for approvals.
• Include a data strategy for creative, as well as for media buying: The data used to target audiences may not be sufficient to guide the dynamic messaging architecture.
CPG marketers should consider expanding their data strategy to encompass additional signals needed to trigger the best communication at each moment for each consumer and interaction. Finding the consumer isn’t enough; one needs to understand the person’s context in a given moment.
• Build flexible dynamic creative frameworks designed for efficient production: Dynamic creative requires forethought and planning, but there is no reason to overcomplicate it. Audit what messages already exist, and make the most of what you’ve got.
Then thoughtfully design creative frameworks that make it efficient and economical to quickly create the versions demanded by the message architecture. It helps not to try to force every/any messages into a framework, but even if 80% of the messages can be accomplished with existing assets, it will leave more time to come up with unique approaches for the other 20%.
• Evaluate and optimize media and creative performance: For CPG, there are typically fewer online “conversion” signals than we have in other industries. Use them when they are there, but otherwise rely on careful analysis of the delivery metrics.
Integrate cookie-free tracking and cross-device and deterministic audience verification to understand true reach and frequency for viewed ads to real people. If there are tangible conversion metrics like coupon offers, recipe prints, and in-banner engagement, consider extending fractional attribution analytics to give each and every moment-based message proper credit for influencing the intended outcome.
Yes, this process represents a fair bit more work than simply creating one ad for one narrowly defined audience. However, like anything else, it gets easier with practice and experience, and the payoff is a more effective ad program that delivers far greater bang for the media buck.