Balance Ad Messaging with Creativity, Emotion & Data: Takeaways from #adtechNY

Continuing our live coverage from ad:tech New York, Day 2 had us pondering to what extent data should drive advertising.

As advertising and technology platforms evolve from planning and buying to content marketing and measurement, creative automation is the next step. By now, we’ve all heard database companies and marketers say that one-to-one addressable messaging is right around the corner. As our messaging changes from one-to-many, to one-to-some, to the ultimate goal of one-to-one messaging, what can we expect creative to look like? Will algorithms determine our headlines? Will copywriters advance from writing campaigns to serving advertisements live to consumers?

During Reaching Creative Addressability at Scale: Myth or Mass Messaging, Alan Schulman, VP of Global Digital Marketing & Brand Content at SapientNitro, reviewed the obstacles and opportunities for delivering creative messaging en masse.

This is a chaotic time for advertisers. As we previously discussed, new audience platforms are forcing marketers to learn how to tell a brand’s story across new channels while maintaining authenticity. As advertising today is much more technology-dependent than it was yesterday, the worlds of the CTO and the CMO are intertwined like never before, with both roles requiring intimate knowledge of the other. So, how can marketers strike the perfect mix of marketing, creativity and technology?

The balancing act

We need to bridge the gap between traditional mass-reach vehicles, digital channels, and one-to-one messaging.

Mass reach = traditional channels

Audience targeting = digital channels

One-to-one messaging = social/local

Alan recommends marketers make an effort to understand the poetry of big data (and not just the plumbing behind it). To do this, we need to update our definition of data. The new definition of data refers to the science that measures the art, emotion, message, media, and brand linkage.

What data should you as the advertiser pay attention to and what data do you need in real time? Because marketers’ responsibility is to elicit emotion that yields a positive brand impression, the response you receive to your content is the data you want to pay attention to.

While it’s an exciting time to be in the industry, many marketers have been seduced and distracted by a lot of emerging technologies and platforms.

We’ve seen programmatic data-driven creative in paid search, direct response lead gen, and in social. In instances where headlines are dynamically served according to different business rules, is this advertising moving anybody? Our concern here is not whether we can create business rules that auto-populate a banner or headline – that’s great, but does it have any impact on your audience?

Markets and media are dependent on scale. Human insights and creative ideas are based on scale. When something has been done once, we want to do it differently the next time because we don’t want to bore our audience (or ourselves, for that matter). Because we need to serve our messaging at scale, it may be tempting to rely on data and automation, but we need to be cognizant of the reaction our advertising elicits from consumers.

How can data help us deliver surprise and delight creatively?

Show me some examples:

Mass reach – When you’re sitting at home surfing through the channels on TV and come across the sports channel, you want to participate in what you’re watching in the same way someone who is at the sporting event participates. We should look at data as an enabler and create an experience that is real-time data driven. Think of this like encouraging the people at home to engage remotely by sharing videos of their reactions to plays within the sporting event.

Targeted segments – Nike took real-time data of the foot impressions of marathon runners through their shoes during a race, printed shoe boxes with the runners’ names on them and gave them a print-out of their foot pattern as they crossed the finish line. How cool is that? Marathoners would think this is great because it helps them determine what sort of shoe to buy based on the part of the impression that has the most wear. This is an excellent example of super-targeted advertising.

One-to-one – Dog-a-like is an app that pairs shelter dogs with prospective dog owners by matching the user to the dog that most looks like them. What? You read that right. Dog-a-like takes in over 500 new dogs a week, and as the dogs are brought in, their faces are scanned into the database using profiling technology. When a user snaps their own photo, Dog-a-like searches the database for the dog that most closely matches that person’s profile. Cool, eh? They have match rates of over 93%. If you can’t adopt the dog that looks like you, you can shake your phone to donate $10, keeping the dog alive longer (many shelter dogs are euthanized due to insufficient funding).

This innovative campaign was created by Pedigree and epitomizes bringing technology to a one-to-one experience.

All across the marketing spectrum, there is a drive for measurable ROI. However, if we swing too far to the data side and forget the emotional ideas that make people feel good about brands in the first place, our creative will be a big yawn.

As we look ahead to the future of our industry, we need to use data and technology as an enabler, not the be-all and end-all.

What ties us all together is that advertisers are still in the ideas business. We’re hired to differentiate one brand from another. We need to get back to brand ideals that reward consumers for spending time with us and invite them back into the “store.” We need to empower and reach our consumers on an emotional level if we expect them to remain loyal. While data often helps shape our advertising strategy, creativity and appeal to human emotion must come first.

Thank you for following along while the @AIMCLEAR team has been at ad:tech this week! Check back here often as we share industry insights and actionable tactics.

Image: wavebreakmedia

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