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5 keys to a successful programmatic creative campaign

5 keys to a successful programmatic creative campaign Stephanie Huston

You can look at programmatic creative as the art and science behind digital advertising. When properly executed, it leverages data to dynamically optimize ad creative, making it more relevant to individual consumers. But, if not well-planned and tended, the extra investment may not be worth it.

The potential of programmatic creative is undeniable. Whether you want to schedule ad versions around events, react to competitor activity, test and refine offers, localize multi-language campaigns, or simply save on production costs and traffic time, dynamic, continually optimized ads are a potent option for making every impression deliver value to your business. With sound strategy, meaningful metrics, appropriate version matrix, and a well-oiled serving and QA plan, you can realize that power time and time again -- and scale or extend your success over time.

By taking a few minutes to consider the five most common "big" mistakes made with DCO, the better path forward is clear. Here follows a primer on these missteps and an alternative way to handle them, in every case.

Align metrics/measurement with goals

When you boil down all the hard work that goes into setting up a campaign, it comes down to ensuring that those ads and placements are created to drive the winning metric goals for your client. There is an endless amount of options when creating a dynamic campaign: retargeting, sequence messaging, scheduling based on day or time of day, weather targeting, rotations, and more. Although we can exploit the power of retargeting, product-level retargeting, and personalized recommendation ads, it's important to spell your campaign goals out clearly so you can choose only the best options to build your creative in order to align with your metric goals on the campaign. For instance, if success means driving consumers to a coupon redemption, make sure that your ad's call-to-action encourages downloading the coupon, and that the landing page has proper conversion tags in place.

Manage creative scope

A matrix template spelling out all the version's copy and image options is an excellent starting point once you are clear on your strategy and ready to begin creative production. When your base file is being built out, you want to make sure that all dynamic variables are accounted for within the ad; by creating a version matrix and listing out all the options, you can ensure all will be available. Using a matrix also helps to give you a checklist on any copy, fonts, images, videos, or promo offers that you will need to confirm with the client, and lets you name each version so it can be properly checked in reports once the campaign is live.

Oh --and just because you have the technology to conveniently make 10,000 versions, doesn't mean that you should. Keep your strategy, impression budget, and your end goal metrics in mind, and resist the urge to go overboard on creating a wide variety of versions. Every campaign will be different and there will be a lot of great, unique data to parse at the end, but only if those unique versions get enough views to collect appropriate data for client feedback. If you do have many cool versions you want to run, your team can plan to use dynamic testing to drill down the best-performing versions, and feature those in your ads as the campaign moves forward.

Understand how different creative size effect dynamic variables

Once you have your version's matrix set and production has begun, keep in mind that the copy, images, and videos will all format differently across a variety of ad sizes. A 160x600 ad can have the same exact text and image as a 300x250, but the animation and rendering will be completely different due to the size and shape of the ads. Images will need to be cropped differently for a 728x90 than for a 300x600, and animations will have to be checked and aligned for each size. When base files are being built out for first approvals, make sure to test out a few versions across each size to determine a game plan for the sizes in your media plan.

Proper QA is more critical than ever

Just as you need to plan for versions rendering differently across creative sizes, you'll need to plan to QA for all of the versions as they render across different browsers. You may have just four creative base files, but if each base file has 100+ versions, that makes for a large QA check before trafficking tags out to sites, so add that step into your timeline in advance so the team has time to test them across Mac, PC, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari to avoid any issues with launch once the sites receive the tags.

So, go ahead with that complicated order. Just make sure you complete the groundwork to ensure success. Programmatic creative offers a host of options for your next campaign, and keeping the above words to the wise in mind will help you steer clear of these five DCO mistakes and take hold of the keys to success. This level of discipline throughout your workflow is the doorway to the promise of the "art and science" of masterful programmatic as it was intended.

Stephanie Huston is a strategic AdTech expert, career mentor, community volunteer, and world traveler living and working in New York City. Stephanie is the East Coast Director of Campaign Management at Flashtalking, leading a team of 14 campaign...

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