With Signal Loss a Reality, Creative Is The Intelligent Place for Advertisers To Focus

By Stephanie Bohn, Global Chief Brand Officer at VidMob

Advertising has long been about three things: audience, placement, and creative.

The signal loss from cookies means that audience intelligence is harder to come by. Placement insights, in the form of contextual data, are certainly helpful and are a likely place that many advertisers will turn. But creative, the third path through these woods remains the road less traveled. This is a huge missed opportunity. Creativity is the most important factor in campaign performance.

With signal loss a reality we all face, the ad world is about to enter a new phase in media planning and buying. The role of creative intelligence is massive, and advertisers need to grab hold if they want to seize the opportunity.

The creative solution

The days of hyper-targeted ads, and ads that know a consumer’s every move, are ending. With fewer signals to navigate by, the ability to fine-tune messaging at the level of an individual ad, or to track a user’s every movement online, is slowly going away.

As marketers have hitched their fortunes to the cookie crumb trail, they’ve largely avoided travelling the creative path to campaign success. It makes sense – the creative trail appears less founded in measurable data. But, even as ad tech has conditioned marketers to focus on optimizing targeting and media placements, creative has been the number one driver of campaign success all along. And the ability to understand the value of creative is more accessible than ever before.

In an increasingly cluttered world, there’s more need for big thinking and enormous power in great ideas, with creative as the canvas. Research backs up what we intuitively know to be true: creative assets are still the most important element in driving sales, responsible for anywhere from 56% to 70% of campaign ROI.

Using creative insights for intelligent creative

Despite the looming hurdles coming from the loss of cookies and IDFA, ad dollars continue to flow toward digital. Cord-cutting and proliferation of subscription and ad-supported video-on-demand platforms have cut into linear TV’s appeal. These incremental brand dollars are going towards high-quality digital placements, streaming, video and mobile app partnerships.

However, all digital roads eventually lead to a need for tracking of some sort. Large digital placements must be measured, but without IDs, advertisers won’t be able to assess the way they have to date. The surging ecommerce industry — which is also fueling digital growth — relies heavily on targeting and measurement as well. With all of these expectations, advertisers need some way to understand if and how their campaigns worked.

This means that going forward, one of the best ways to maximize paid media dollars is to optimize the performance of creative. Fully leveraging creative intelligence as a practice results in the output of intelligent creative and makes a difference in your campaigns going forward. Marketers need to study detailed insights on how their creative compares to their competitors, how it’s performing, and the subtle changes that can make a big, big difference in the performance. Creative optimization has never mattered more.

Human creative intelligence still matters

AI-powered tech can help analyze the performance and optimize your creative, but it can’t produce the creative itself. Brands need actual, living intelligence to do that, now more than ever.

For many ad buyers, programmatic trading has become a science, but it’s an incomplete picture of the world. Surviving the future is going to require everyone to embrace the outsized role of creative once and for all. While AI-driven insights can help brands optimize each detail of an ad creative so it performs well in the context, creators well-versed in what works best on a specific platform, app, device, or even with specific kinds of an audience can optimize at the outset, and through the course of a campaign.

Even seemingly small elements of a creative are measurable and have a proven impact on outcomes. Elements like the emotion of a person featured in the ad, the direction they are looking, the colors used in the background, and even the order in which text and sound are introduced in the first second or two, can dramatically affect how the ad performs.

Other performance elements such as the price a brand pays to use a famous spokesperson who may actually evoke negative reactions, or images of a product or new slogans that turn viewers off, show how creative can offer strategic insights that resonate far outside of media buying.

Digital marketing is in a period of great change. The technology and legal landscapes are shifting, revealing a path ahead that offers greater privacy for users, and a renewed opportunity to rethink the role of other campaign elements in ad measurement and performance. By taking advantage of creative intelligence that comes from both tech and human sources, advertisers can develop a strategy that delivers results, without leaning on cookies.