Art-driven or Data-driven Creatives?

“Should ad creatives be driven by art or by data?”, asked Rob Rasko to a panel he was moderating yesterday on advertising, before calling for a show of hands.

Both panel and audience were split. Half thought UX and visual appeal should be top of mind for creative agencies, the other half believed data-driven optimization shall guide ad content creation.

“Scale is an addictive drug” trumped Warren Zenna from Havas, “and we’ve gotten to a point where monetization is getting in the way of good user experiences.”


Better high performing than “artsy”

Programmatic is all data driven. Marketers are getting more comfortable with targeting directly specific audiences, and focus less on which publications their ads show into.

More importantly, offering non-standard creatives does not scale. These “high impact” creatives look awesome on paper, but brands just don’t have the assiduity to build non-standard creatives. Too many operational issues.

IAB did invest in standardizing native creatives over the last year, but adoption has been slow and there is little appetite for exotic format standardization any time soon.

“Is anybody involved in programmatic advertising?” I asked around, perplexed.

Nobody was but me.

2017 Native Predictions

I and the other members of the IAB Native Standardization committee wrote our predictions for native advertising in 2017.

My notes:

Native standardization by the IAB has bridged the gap between social marketing and the programmatic display ecosystem.

At PulsePoint, our social marketing & sponsored content distribution platform used to be siloed from our programmatic offering.

Native standardization enabled us to distribute native-style display ads across hundreds of publishers, leveraging existing OpenRTB integrations.

Similarly, our DSP partners started scaling up native campaigns without worrying about the how their ads would blend within publisher content, enjoying far greater engagement and reach than with banner.

In 2017, we anticipate native advertising to be our fastest growing channel, slightly ahead of pre-roll video.

In-feed will still make up the bulk of native ad revenue, as many of PulsePoint traditional publishers focus on text-heavy or user-generated content.

We have big ambition for native video for next year. Constraints are mostly demand-side, but both publishers and advertisers are getting more comfortable with embedding video content within in-feed ads, at a substantial CPM premium over static media.”

This said, and as a few of my co-members noted, adoption of native has been below expectations in 2016.

Video is the main reason, as Kayla Wilson noted: “DSPs de-prioritized [native buys] when they realized this year was actually all about in-app video”.