By Benjamin Arnold, President, North America, Adludio
2024 is set to be a pivotal year for the digital advertising industry, with the deprecation of third-party cookies, the proliferation of AI and made-for-advertising (MFA) sites, and the continued fragmentation of the media landscape leaving advertisers seemingly fighting against the rising tide.
Despite these challenges looming large, it’s of course not all doom and gloom for brands. Indeed, there are plenty of opportunities to thrive. However, achieving success here will be more likely if advertisers ensure they are prioritizing the pillars of creativity, data, and technology above all else.
Reclaiming the crown
Creativity has always played a pivotal role in delivering successful advertising but suffered in the 2010s when the industry entered a period of tunnel vision around hyper-targeting and tracking consumers across the web. Now, with the ability to track users dissolving, brands should distinguish themselves from competitors by optimizing creativity. This is essential in the saturated advertising ecosystem, where the window to capture the attention of consumers is smaller than it’s ever been.
While the industry once debated the “creativity versus data” dilemma, the current scenario demands seamless collaboration between the two. Consequently, creativity is reclaiming its well-deserved spotlight and once again is positioned at the forefront of advertising.
The strategic use of the right data can empower advertisers to discern the elements of successful creativity, ensuring that the right campaign is being delivered to the right audience at the right time. Thankfully, advances in data science and artificial intelligence (AI), in particular, mean that advertisers are now able to seamlessly unlock the “right” data and use it to produce the most effective advertising possible.
Creativity fueled by intelligence
Speaking of AI, it’s reached a stage where it feels like everybody in the industry is shouting about the “mainstream emergence” of the technology. That said, the influence the technology is already having – and will have – on digital advertising cannot be understated.
Many within the industry have long been acquainted with AI, as it has powered real-time bidding and search engine optimization for many years. However, recent advancements have elevated the technology to a level where its impact surpasses that which was previously thought possible. And while AI is poised to make a significant impact right across the digital ecosystem, the area where perhaps the biggest impact will be made is around creativity.
AI technologies can enable advertisers to deliver highly engaging, interactive advertising experiences that are targeted with precision. Particularly, deep learning technology, computer vision, neural networks, large language models, and reinforcement learning have evolved to a point where they can be harnessed to understand and optimize at a more granular, individual object level.
For example, computer vision can break down images and videos at a frame level, using this to inform and guide generative AI in content creation. Meanwhile, deep learning and neural networks collaborate to demonstrate the value of marketing efforts by correlating engagement with specific business outcomes.
By combining various AI technologies, marketers can ensure the delivery of not only the best-performing ads, but also gain insight into why these ads are successful, informing future campaigns. Beyond that, AI technologies also mean that marketing teams aren’t being tasked with the tedious – and nigh-on impossible – task of manually breaking down swathes of data and making it actionable. Instead, internal resources can be used to focus on areas where the team’s skills would prove to be more useful.
Of course, AI’s integration has wider implications for internal processes, remits, and job roles. While many out there fear a general AI takeover, the reality is that humans will always be needed in the loop for quality control. Indeed, AI will augment our creativity – not replace it.
Only the best will do
The phasing out of third-party cookies, coupled with a broader commitment to prioritize privacy, has made it clear that striving for quantity is no longer a viable approach to digital advertising. Instead, marketers must focus their efforts on delivering the highest quality content to consumers.
By honing creativity, bolstered by effective data and AI technology, advertisers will position themselves optimally to craft top-tier advertising. This ensures both the capture of attention and crucial engagement from precisely the right audiences.
The coming year may present challenges for the digital advertising landscape, but within these challenges lie opportunities for advertisers to continue reaching consumers and attaining tangible business outcomes. It’s high time for advertisers to refocus on the power of creativity once again, or risk being swept aside by the competition.