January 12, 2016

Listening to the Data: Where Programmatic Enhances the Creative Process

What do you do when the numbers are telling a different story than your gut? In the world of programmatic, you seize the opportunity to open doors you may have otherwise kept closed. This is especially true for fine-tuning your creative work.

Last year, I spoke at several industry events about the importance of hiring, developing, and retaining programmatic talent within agencies. More than a few people in the Q&A sessions afterward asked me what programmatic means for “creatives” in the biz. In other words, where do the copywriters and art directors fit in as more dollars shift into programmatic, and agencies scale out their programmatic practices?

The truth is that smart creative is more important than ever. In fact, there’s never been a more critical time for media and creative talent to talk to each other. If the “holy grail” of marketing is not only driving a purchase but also understanding a customer’s motivation to purchase, then testing creative options and sequences can be tremendously informative. Programmatic buying by means of Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) offers transparency and efficiency. When you have the data to understand what’s working, you can make your marketing budget work that much harder for you.

A few months ago an agency client of ours ran a campaign for a financial services brand. The goal was to drive funding for existing accounts. The core targets were luxury and business travelers and other people nearing retirement, so the campaign team hypothesized most customers would fund accounts in accordance with stock market, global economic, and political trends.

The data showed otherwise. An unexpected cohort of customers was more likely to fund accounts on the second and last Fridays of a given month, indicating some customers were more likely to shift money when they’d just been paid, and perhaps also indicating a younger, newer investing set. Knowing this proved to be a huge advantage in terms of the way the media was optimized, but it should have also been important to the creative copy and art. Given what programmatic buying, and the insights derived from programmatic buying can show us, we should be taking full advantage of creative resources to talk to customers in the most impactful ways possible.

This is ever more important in the age of the customer-centric, cross device experience. Creative is not one size fits all. What you say and when you say it matters. As a marketer, your own first party data is your gold standard.

Target’s Kristi Argylian spoke to AdAge late last year, talking about how focused her team was on gaining a deeper understanding of who Target’s guest is. Leveraging their own first party data enables Target to have a clear understanding of how customers move from channel to channel. In other words, what segments of customers are buying what products? When and where are they purchasing?

Target isn’t alone. More and more marketers are incorporating their own data in the planning and execution of their omnichannel programmatic campaigns. It’s time for buyers to realize the importance of using both media optimization and creative execution towards spending their budget in the more effective way.