Create Once, Run Anywhere: Omnichannel Creative Is the New Imperative

By Ben Kartzman, COO of Mediaocean and Flashtalking

Just under 30 years ago, a small innovation had an outsized impact on the Internet, suddenly making it possible to write one line of code and run it on any hardware. This was one of the key features of Java, which was designed at its outset to be portable across operating systems and hardware. It wasn’t perfect—but it was easy, reliable and efficient. And Java’s “write once, run anywhere” ethos unleashed the true potential of software development in the early days of the Web. Instead of needing to write software optimized for specific hardware and operating systems, software engineers could code something once and run it anywhere, on any machine.

The revelation

Fast forward to today and we’re at exactly the same moment in the advertising ecosystem. These days, the consumer experience is omnichannel, which means brand messaging needs to reach them across dozens of social media channels, including digital video, CTV, out-of-home installations, on phones, in retail, and across rapidly emerging new apps and platforms that are springing up every day. When it comes to paid media, creative has to be built to live on everything, everywhere, all at once.

Omnichannel fragmentation in consumer behavior has created a need for technology that can step in and play the same role in the advertising industry that Java once did for the software industry.

Advertisers are nearing a breaking point. If you’re the person running the creative department at a brand, or you’re at an agency working on behalf of a brand, your job is not to just build stuff that only works in display or build stuff that only works in video. It has to be able to run everywhere.

In short, marketers and their agencies need the tools to be able to “create once, run anywhere.”

The imperative

Fortunately, this is already well within reach. Here’s what it takes to get a create-once-run-anywhere (CORA) approach to campaigns:

An AI-driven understanding of creative variables to drive efficiency. There are almost infinite sizes and options for every platform and medium, humans can’t possibly keep up. You need AI-based tools that let you upload creative, combine various images, text, and calls-to-action, and push a button to see what it looks like on Facebook, what it looks like on Snap, convert it into a video ad, morph it into a display ad … and so on. In a world of endlessly multiplying platforms and formats, your creative has to be able to keep up.

Deployment via an omnichannel platform-independent ad server.  There are plenty of creative authoring tools, but “running anywhere” means you also need an ad server that works with those tools. That’s where the value comes in. You need to be able to build creative for all these platforms—and deploy it easily too. And ideally you have one ad server that works with all the platforms and formats you need without any biases towards one channel or company.

Analytics that bring it all together. If you’re doing all these creative iterations and using AI to label them, you also want to be sure you’re getting creative intelligence that tells you which elements of the creative are performing and where. And it needs to do that across display, video, and social so you know where you should be spending less (or more) too. Ideally, the analytics would also include verification for brand safety, invalid traffic, and fraud detection.

The state of advertising and media today is fragmented and chaotic, and omnichannel is an imperative. Once upon a time, you could manage an inefficient process across two or three channels. But these days that friction compounds with every additional channel—and more are arriving every day. With the right tools, however, you really can create once, run anywhere. And if Java’s continued popularity is any indication, this platform-independent approach can be a game changer for decades to come.