The power of data-driven creative

At our recent Serpico x Google event, we explored the opportunities that data-driven creative presents for digital marketers. Here our Creative Production Lead, Maria Evrenos, sums up the key points from her talk.

Almost 20 years on from Mel Gibson’s bathtub and electricity induced revelation in What Women Want, we’ve got a new way of listening in to consumers’ most intimate desires in order to inform and optimise ad creatives: data.

Our hopes and dreams, pain points and unmet needs are pouring into social media networks, Google’s search bars, and whispered to devices at a staggering rate. Have you met “Hello Barbie?” There are even AI-driven Barbie dolls that can speak to young children.

Yet, what do many advertisers and digital agencies do with all this data when it comes to their ad creatives? Not much actually.

“Up to 97% of programmatic campaigns lack a targeted creative for each audience segment,” according to research by AppNexus from 2017.

However, many studies show that consumers prefer personalised ads, they are perceived as more relevant and more memorable. In fact, Google’s Internal Data Report from 2018 found that 50% more conversions were generated from data-driven creatives compared to standard HMTL5.

So the big question is: How can we make the most of this opportunity to use data in order to create more effective advertising?

We believe the first step is to understand the value of ad creatives, even in performance marketing. This Nielsen study (and there are a few other studies to choose from as well) set out to quantify the weight creative has in terms of its contribution to sales. And this is what they found – that it’s actually the main driver behind marketing sales.

This is something we’ve seen time and time again; that the creative is the main difference between a meaningful brand experience and time-wasting spam when it comes to advertising online.

Serpico x Google

So, how do you get started?

One way to start is to isolate data – which is basically a fancy word for saying “what do we know about this person” and seeing how you can leverage this knowledge to create more relevant ads.

Let’s look at a few different approaches that can be drilled down into deeper. But these are all good starting off points for when you’re brainstorming new creatives and campaigns.

  • Location: If we know where the consumer is, what does that unlock?
  • Audience:  If you know who they are, why not talk to them about what matters to them?
  • Remarketing: If you know what page or section of your website they’ve been on, what can you say to them to make them convert?
  • Context: Tailoring your ad to the environment in which it will be seen makes it more memorable and helps you connect with users through what they’re interested in.
  • Offline events: Digital ads are alive on the internet and can be updated in real-time, something you can make the most out of in so many different ways. Like integrating the latest scoreboard or weather change into your ads to be constantly relevant and useful in your ads.

And there are so many other data sources we use – including Custom Surveys, Hitwise, TGI, CRM data, social listening, keyword research, and more. The list goes on and on.

Tips and advice

  • Start small, and have a clear hypothesis: It’s important not to overwhelm yourself and your teams, by testing thousands of messaging variations and audiences at the same time, just because you can. Have a clear hypothesis, do a test in a smaller section first, and only roll out and expand if you see an uplift.
  • Interrogate your results: There are several ways that data can be misleading, so when you analyse the performance of your campaigns before you male decisions about what creative performed better than another, make sure the data is sound. Make sure the result is significant enough and that you’ve considered all the relevant factors.
  • Cross-channel campaign planning: Get your data scientists, your media buyer and your creatives in the same room to brainstorm campaigns. At Croud we have regular cross-channel innovation workshops where we discuss emerging ad formats and technologies across different teams.
  • Use technology to scale: We use Google Studio and DV360, as well as our network of digital experts and proprietary tech platform, in order to produce the high volume of assets needed for tailored personalised campaigns. We also use Bannerflow and Google Webdesigner. It can be very labour-intensive to create personalised ads at scale so you need to embrace the latest tools.

Get this right and the rewards can be huge.

If you’d like to see Maria’s full presentation, or to find out more about Croud and Serpico’s approach to data-driven creative, contact us.

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