Capturing The Spirit Of Summer 2021 With Intelligent Creative

By Pablo Dopico, Head of Agencies EMEA, VidMob

A combination of the roadmap out of lockdown and an effective vaccine rollout means UK consumers are starting to envisage a more positive future.

Early signs of exuberance included a surge in outdoor dining reservations when restrictions were eased on 12th April, along with a doubling of high-street footfall. There was also a reported 630% increase in easyJet holiday bookings following the roadmap announcement, while Saturday tickets to Leeds Festival sold out within 24 hours of the decision being made to continue with the event.

While this optimism is welcome news for brands, they need to carefully consider how best to respond in their digital ad campaigns this summer. Alongside the economic and social turbulence caused by the pandemic, new privacy regulations and policy changes from the likes of Apple and Google are set to make 2021 a transformational year for digital advertising. Ad platforms are losing the ability to collect and surface third-party data about consumers, and this signal loss will make it extremely difficult for brands to deliver relevant, personalised messaging that truly resonates with shifting consumers moods and attitudes, using traditional methods of audience targeting.

To succeed in this dynamic environment, they need to take a radically different approach to campaign optimisation that relies on first-party data, and specifically on creative data. With signal loss meaning creative will soon become the most important driver of digital campaign performance, we’re entering the era of intelligent creative where the elements of ad design, rather than targeting and media placement, will drive campaign outcomes.

The basics of intelligent creative

For too long creative has operated in a silo, with creative teams passing finalised assets across to media planners before moving onto the next campaign. While ad targeting and placement is scrutinised and optimised through complex algorithms, the same creative is recycled time and time again, with little thought for how the message is received.

Intelligent creative breaks down this silo and uses data on the creative to help brands understand and optimise the visual and audio details in ads that drive desired outcomes like clicks, views and purchases. Creative data is drawn from the DNA of an ad, turning each and every detail – from the colour of a person’s coat to the expression on their face – into a line of code or a data point that can be analysed to deliver scalable insight. While transcoding ads manually is a massive undertaking, advances in computer vision and machine learning make this process far more manageable.

By combining creative data with first-party performance data, bands generate creative intelligence. It enables them to analyse every aspect of ad design, from the backgrounds, objects and people, to the text, call to action and branding, to understand which are driving outcomes and which are missing the mark. They can evaluate the sentiments or emotions contained within different creatives, and can examine the smallest design details, such as which brand logo placement is most effective. They can explore the use of colour, and the way temperatures, vibrancies and contrasts stimulate different consumer responses.

With advanced measurement tools, creative intelligence can be viewed at varying levels. Brands can uncover deep, detailed insights at the account and campaign level, or discover broader trends that showcase the best performing creative elements across multiple platforms.

Delivering the right creative at the right time

Understanding how the on-screen or audio elements of ad creatives impact campaign outcomes is interesting, but it’s only really valuable if those findings are used to make improvements in real-time to enhance campaign performance and targeting. Insights that drive action are far more valuable than those that simply answer questions, especially if they encourage brands to rethink their approach and take campaigns in a new direction. By defining specific metrics that have an impact on consumer response, brands can optimise creative to those KPIs to boost performance.

Generating creative data used to be a slow process, with insights only received after a campaign had finished, but now actionable information is produced within seconds of a new ad creative launching on digital channels. This situation means brands can gauge how consumers are responding to their campaigns in the moment and can make real-time adjustments to optimise creative for consumers’ immediate needs and mindsets, however quickly they are changing.

This ability to deliver the right creative combinations, at the right moment – in what continues to be a challenging marketing landscape – will give brands a vital advantage this summer as competitors struggle to make audience targeting and media placement work in an environment that is increasingly signal free.

There is certainly cause for optimism as UK consumers embrace the many opportunities an easing of lockdown brings. To understand what they need at a time when behaviours are changing rapidly and third-party data signals are quickly disappearing, brands can embrace data-informed creative to deliver relevant messaging that really resonates. The era of intelligent creative has arrived and brands are beginning to realise digital advertising creative optimisation might just be the most attractive option this summer, and beyond.