• Genevieve Braine

Creative in programmatic contributes to 47% of sales uplift, yet is very underutilised, why?

By Gen Braine, Client Partner at TPA Digital


Creative is said to contribute to 47% of sales uplift in a digital marketing campaign yet a common conversation we have with brands here at TPA is regarding the difficulty brands have creating a higher volume of content to support better data-driven ads. Often this is due to a lack of skills in the team or not having the right processes to support the scale needed. This is backed up by industry research, for example; Thunder found that ads that use data to inform the creative generate an 85% conversion lift when compared to generic creative. Forrester also conducted research with 224 digital advertisers in 2020 and found that 70% of those advertisers are spending more time on content creation, yet only 44% agree that their processes are effective.


So why does creative continue to be an area that doesn’t get the level of attention or investment that it requires?

Marketers deploy creative in lots of different ways, often creative may have a different message for each stage of the marketing funnel, whereas other marketers may use the same message across the whole customer journey. In some cases, brands are using different messaging for different audiences but it often isn’t updated throughout the campaign lifecycle, losing its relevancy and gaining creative fatigue.

The data below illustrates the creative capability gap advertisers have and although this data is from 2018, we are still seeing the same challenges from the brands that we are working with in 2021.


What do we mean by dynamic creative?

Let’s first lay out what dynamic creative constitutes, and what the opportunities are, before understanding what is holding advertisers from doing more in this area.


At its core, dynamic creative is about utilising data and technology to deliver tailored creative messaging to different audiences or users. There are lots of uses for dynamic creative and there are a number of areas that fall under this title, so let’s explore the two overarching technology elements, which can power dynamic creative; CMPs and DCO.


Creative Management Platforms (CMPs)
  • Suited for advertisers that want to produce creative across multiple formats at scale quickly whilst retaining creative control

  • Assets are pre-built before the campaign with machine assistance

  • Little or no coding is needed for the build, as the production tools are often included

  • Multiple formats supported; display, social video, rich media

  • More creative control to move components

Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO)
  • Suited for advertisers that want to use data to tailor creative in real-time

  • Assets are built on the fly, automated and created as the ad request loads

  • Built using HTML, rules-driven and using a data feed

  • Often used for single display, video, native and social formats

  • Often built using templates (with exceptions)

What are the opportunities?

The programmatic industry was built on delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, so this provides a real opportunity to enhance the message that we are delivering.


Improved process and efficiency

Onboarding a dynamic creative solution will allow advertisers to improve the process and efficiency in building the creative suite. Some studies show that 83% of advertisers expect prioritising creative automation will allow them to improve their process leading to higher campaign production and improved levels of creative quality and relevancy.


Increased campaign production

As advertisers start to scale up production and content creation, technology can facilitate and support this increase with ease. 84% of advertisers also say that by prioritising automating creative they will be able to increase the volume of ad campaigns launched each year, leading to an increase in the speed of creative development avoiding creative fatigue mentioned before.


Improved creative quality and relevancy

Retargeting is the biggest use of DCO today with product feed ads, serving you ads in real-time making use of on-site data. There are many ways to enhance and use DCO beyond product retargeting, overlaying other data points. An example might be targeting them with their browsing interests overlaid with data points on the weather, tailoring the ad to the weather in that instance. There are many other data points that can be used, but this gives a simple example of enhancing ads with one additional data point to improve relevancy to the customer with ease.


Cookie deprecation

Changes in how we can use cookies are going to alter how we target our consumers in 2023, however, this doesn’t mean that dynamic creative will no longer be an option, as with media buying, it will just change. APIs such as weather and time will still be available, delivering advertising based on keywords and context will also remain. The challenge will be around 1st and 3rd party data and how we find those users, but there are many solutions emerging which are looking to solve these challenges. So although the landscape is changing, there is no reason not to deliver some creative relevance.


Social platforms are a good example of businesses that can run dynamic creative well, as their data and creative tools are in the same platform. They have an abundance of 1st party data to build some powerful ads in their platform in real-time.


What are the challenges?

Dynamic creative has been around for years yet is still underutilised. There are some large overarching themes that are still providing a barrier for many advertisers.


Team process and silos

Advertisers and agencies structures tend to work in silos creating barriers to being able to collaborate as effectively as possible. For example, many brands may have a separate creative and media agency, in order for this to work the two agencies would need to collaborate closely to integrate data, planning and creative together seamlessly. Similarly, if some elements are run in-house the programmatic/digital teams will need to collaborate with a creative team, ultimately it requires education and bringing teams together more closely than before.


Data challenges and consistency

Data makes up a huge part of dynamic creative, and to make the best use of its capabilities, data integration is essential. Many digital teams aren’t data experts and understanding how these tools integrate together can provide a challenge. Often the different data platforms work in silo, such as the CRM database being separate from the website database, limiting the integration of more in-depth data that can be used (we published this article on CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) to see if they are the answer to unify data platforms), which will limit how much data can be used in the creative decisioning. Data decisioning may come from the DSP to inform the creative, instead of from internal databases when using 3rd party audiences for example, so the data flow between DSP and DCO tool will need to be considered if this is a route that is explored. How data flows between the various platforms will be a large consideration in order to make dynamic creative work to its full potential.

Time and cost

Time and cost are also challenges to onboarding dynamic creative. The time needed to scope out which dynamic creative tool is the best fit based on your use cases and the additional time that designers will spend getting up to speed on a new platform (even though time per creative is down) rises due to the scope of the design request potentially getting larger. The tools themselves are also an additional cost alongside any existing creative costs such as agencies etc, which advertisers may find harder to justify. Conversely for those brands who are looking really lean in to iterate and test multiple creative, dynamic creative tools can provide great cost and time savings in the long run by making production more efficient and scalable than traditional creative builds.


Dynamic Creative Definitions

This may be a relatively simple one, but the definitions of dynamic creative are used interchangeably and incorrectly, which make it difficult to identify what is meant. We’ve worked with businesses who use DCO to encompass everything under dynamic creative when DCO is just an element of dynamic creative. This can be a particular issue when speaking across agencies and teams, so education and being clear is important so that briefs aren’t lost in translation.


So although dynamic creative can enhance conversions and sales uplift, there are still quite a few barriers to it becoming a staple of the digital toolbox.


Already making use of some dynamic creative, but want to do more? Not sure which is the best dynamic creative solution for your business and whether you need a CMP or more of a DCO solution (or both!)? Get in touch and we’ll work with you on the right dynamic creative solution for your business.