How Much Time are You Spending Managing PMPs that Don’t Perform?

November 6, 2017 — by Julia Welch0


Private deals are an important tool to access premium inventory. Many advertisers resort to them to exercise control of exactly where their brand appears. Others do it to ensure placement on top tier publishers instead of long tail inventory.

Managing the range of deals that are required in order to reach your customers can take enormous time and energy, and advertisers are often competing directly with other larger advertisers and agencies for privilege. In the era of header bidding, advertisers are increasingly locked in a zero-sum competition for priority in the waterfall, and advertisers can end up paying more for less if they are not paying adequate attention to their deal dynamics. This approach to inventory management is not scalable for programmatic, data-driven advertisers.

There is a better way. Save yourself some precious time this holiday season and beyond!

The MediaMath Curated Market is a compilation of publisher deals negotiated and procured by using an audience focused approach, which allows advertisers to find their best audiences at scale in a sophisticated invalid traffic-free environment. The Curated Market is essentially one big PMP, but we’ve already done all of the work for you. No need to troubleshoot, maintain publisher relationships, worry about scale or transparency issues—it’s all been hand-selected and negotiated by a team of experts. If you only remember three things about the Curated Market, remember these:

• Guaranteed SIVT Free: MediaMath has guaranteed that advertisers that purchase media through the Curated Market will be reimbursed for any traffic they run on suspicious invalid traffic.
• Premium Supply with Privileged Access: MediaMath has negotiated a privileged position in the waterfall of premium publishers based on the entirety of the advertiser demand that we represent, ensuring that when our buyers bid above the floor, we win.
• Audience Addressable: The Curated Market team has modeled and identified MediaMath’s clients best known and unknown customers and procured media against them to drive marketer outcomes.

Get started today — replace the PMPs that are not scaling in your campaigns with test strategies targeting the Curated Market. Or augment your existing PMP strategy with Curated Market strategies. Make sure to increase your bids to ensure that you win as much of the inventory in the Curated Market as it is at a higher price point than open auction.

Read more about the Curated Market here and learn about how to activate (for T1 users only) here.


Bolstering Brand Safety with Contextual Pre-Bid Segments

October 25, 2017 — by John Van Antwerp0


Seventy-eight percent of marketers report their brand reputation has been harmed in the past by “unintended” ad placement adjacent to inappropriate content, according to a CMO Council survey. In the contextual pre-bid landscape, our partner Grapeshot has focused on brand safety and their unique take on keyword segments — Predicts, which dynamically adapt to the relevant conversation happening on web pages, social and elsewhere. At a time when one of the largest perils of digital advertising is having your ad appear next to offensive or controversial content, Grapeshot’s brand safety segments are sought after by some of the largest advertisers in the industry. Their Predicts segments are a creative adaptation of keyword segments, along with an interesting application of technology, to create a differentiated and useful product in the market.

Today, we’re proud to announce our newest integration with Grapeshot, unlocking the entire Grapeshot portfolio of contextual pre-bid products in our platform to provide more choice and flexibility to our clients. The launch is the culmination of one of the largest integrations the Grapeshot team has performed in two years. Contextual pre-bid segments are available for both web and in-app including:

  • Brand Safety — make sure your ads only run alongside content that is appropriate for your brand
  • Standard Segments — target content based on a static set of keywords defined by the experts at Grapeshot
  • Standard Predicts — target content based on a dynamic set of keywords determined algorithmically and by following the social conversation across the web, defined by the experts at Grapeshot
  • Language — target based on page languages
  • Custom Segments and Custom Predicts — target content based on a static or dynamic set of keywords (respectively) created by you, tailored to your unique marketing needs

We’re excited to have Grapeshot available within our platform and look forward to hearing how it’s improved your targeting experience.


Marketing Wiki: Omnichannel’s Importance to Consumer-Centric Marketing

September 20, 2017 — by Cassandra Vitelli0


Consumer-Centric marketing is an approach to media that allows marketers to create seamless experiences for customers across screens. Marketing is most effective when it is centered on the customer — understanding their behavior, relationship with the brand, and location in the buy cycle. This is extremely difficult to do well, particularly as customers begin interacting with brands on mobile devices, connected TVs, social media, and emerging touchpoints. In order to create customer-centric experiences, marketers need to purchase their media on all of these channels, as if they were a single channel, with a unified view of the customer and a coherent strategy about how to interact with them across devices.

Why is Consumer-Centric Marketing important?

Years ago when people just watched TV, read print and listened to radio, it made sense to execute one omnibus buy across channels and blast out a single message. In 2017, the average person uses  7.2 Internet-connected devices and that figure is likely to rise as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes mainstream. In this environment, it’s important not to hit consumers with one message at too high a frequency or present them with inappropriate messages. The benefits of this approach include: 1) unified audience and media management 2) holistic machine-based learning and attribution across all channels and 3) a consolidated source of measurement aligned with marketers’ goals. By contrast, operating with point solutions or channel silos leads to a lack of cost transparency and a fragmented message, among other issues.

What is the difference between Multichannel and Omnichannel?

Just because you put the same creative on multiple channels does NOT mean you are omnichannel. Multichannel means that a marketer is using other channels through disconnected platforms that cannot fully share data. In order to get to omnichannel, marketers should be using a cross-device identity solution and a single DSP to sync their strategies, budgets, messaging, frequency, and measurement across those channels.

What are the problems with realizing Omnichannel?

For the most part today, omnichannel is more an ideal than a reality. Only 14% of marketers say they can track consumers across channels and act on the data they uncover from those interactions, according to L2. In practice, it can be difficult to establish a consumer’s single identity across various devices, synchronize marketing messages across platforms and attribute a sale to the right media and messages. Today, marketers should be laying the foundation of their omnichannel strategy by establishing cross-device solutions, implementing a data strategy to maximize your first party data, and organizing your marketing teams around shared goals and views of the customer


Back-to-School Starts Early for Marketers

September 6, 2017 — by Laura Carrier0


This article originally appears on MarTech Advisor. 

Back-to-school is just around the corner, and spending is projected to go up by 9.4 percent from last year. To help ensure advertisers are targeting and reaching back-to-school shoppers this summer, MediaMath put together tips and trends to help them optimize for their campaigns before school’s back in session. Laura Carrier, VP, Vertical Strategy, Measurement at MediaMath explores these tips and provides the best ways to fully optimize a campaign through an audience based, omnichannel, brand safe approach. 

Back-to-school shopping is the second largest online retail season in the US, after the winter holidays. It serves as an essential revenue generating period that can help retailers get ahead of their revenue targets before Q4. The National Retail Federation projects that back-to-school spend will go up by 9.4 percent from last year and 54.8 percent more than a decade ago.

We looked for patterns in the way that our best brands made the most of this fruitful season, including the way they think about timing, budget, media, targeting, data and more. Here are a few of the best practices that our advertisers use to get the most out of the back-to-school season:

Know your Audiences

It has always been the case that marketers need to understand who they are targeting to inform creative and targeting decisions. And the digitization of retailing has allowed unprecedented understanding of who your marketing audience is, where they are and what their interests are. There are two cohorts of back-to-school shoppers, each of whom exhibit very different shopping behavior. Parents of K-12 students are the biggest spenders of the season, responsible for a projected $75.8 billion total spend in 2017. They are volume shoppers that focus on clothing and shoes. The other cohort of back-to-school shoppers are the parents of college students, who are responsible for less overall spend at $45.8B, but have larger budgets for electronics. The average college student parent spends approximately $899.19/person, more than $200/person –  higher than the average K-12 student parent budget.

Marketers should understand which audience, or percentage of each audience, to target based on their product category and industry. It will inform your media and data strategy to find the right way to reach them, and should be essential in the creative that you use to reach the audience. Remember that you are advertising to very different sets of parents, even for the same products!

It’s Still Not Too Late to Start

The main back-to-school shopping season kicks off after the Fourth of July holiday weekend, but conversions do not begin peaking until around July 22nd, and they remain at their highest volume through the end of August. Marketers should plan to have their campaigns launched and at full force from the last week of July through the end of August.

How marketers time these strategies will also depend on which cohort they target – college parents complete their shopping by the Labor Day holiday, while K-12 parents continue making last minute school purchases all the way through October.

Summer is For On-The-Go Shoppers

The last place that anyone wants to be in the hot summer months is in front of their desktop, at home or in the office. During most of the year, desktop site traffic is significantly higher than mobile traffic. But during the summer period between July 10 – August 28, site traffic is just as likely to come from cellular devices as it is desktop site visitors, a major shift that’s sustained for almost the entire summer holidays.

If marketers are not taking an omnichannel approach to their back-to-school strategy, they are leaving even more money on the table than usual. Optimize across channels so that you reach people who are even more on the move than usual.

Understand the Importance of Digital Influence

Back-to-school shoppers overwhelmingly purchase in stores, however the influence of online marketing and research on offline purchases is continuing to increase. This is important for marketers to understand with respect to the ensuring continuity of conversation: if you are not speaking to your customers online, then you are missing more than half of the conversation they are looking to have with you, and you are missing the start of the customer journey. Not only do most customer journeys start in a digital channel, but digitally influenced offline store sales are much greater than all of e-commerce sales. Brands must understand this in laying out their digital strategies, such that they are building up their online and offline presences to act in concert together, not as wholly separate strategies. Creating relevance for back-to-school shoppers is about understanding that a retailer’s physical presence drives online conversions, and additionally their online presence drives offline conversions – customer journeys flow across the entire “phygital” world.

Quality Counts

Brand safety concerns should be especially important when running a campaign targeting parents who are shopping for their children, and marketers are becoming more aware than ever of where their brand appears. In looking at back-to-school campaigns, however, we also saw that ads served on premium, curated media had a 2X response rate compared to all media during back-to-school campaigns in 2016. Marketers should test some strategies on whitelists or premium media marketplaces to see if overall engagement and performance works for their audiences – those higher CPMs are certainly worthwhile if they are justified with higher quality brand experiences that drive conversions!

The second largest shopping season is nothing to sneer at – summertime is a perfect period for retailers to get ahead of their revenue targets ahead of Q4. Also, since the holiday season is just around the corner, it’s a great opportunity to implement new technologies and sharpen best practices.


CMO Q&A: Joanna O’Connell

August 31, 2017 — by Amarita Bansal0


This article originally appears on DMN News

What led you to a career in marketing?  Was it an early decision or a more recent event?

I’ve been in the space for over 15 years and started my career in the digital agency world as an integrated media planner/buyer ,so I’ve been able to see first-hand how marketing has evolved over the years. I love math, and I loved being exposed to — in those early days of digital advertising — math playing a foundational role in marketers’ decision making. And that was more than a decade and a half ago! The critical importance of math has only grown since then.

Have you always been a marketer, or did you train for a different role prior to that (and if so, what)?

Technically, I’ve come full circle in my marketing career. I started my career as a media planner/buyer, which was an invaluable experience. I really cut my marketing teeth there. After working my way up, then launching ATOM Systems, Razorfish’s programmatic trading desk in 2008, I became a research analyst at Forrester and AdExchanger and am now CMO at MediaMath. I reached a moment in my career when it became clear it was time for me to move from connecting with the industry from the outside to shaping it from within. That’s what propelled me to take my current role in the fall of 2015 — to move from thought back to action.

If you could pick out one thing you find most challenging about marketing, what would it be?

Treating customers as people. We get so caught up in personas, buyer types, in data and targeting that we often forget to treat them like we would ourselves want to be treated as consumers. What compels you to click an ad or open an email? What needs do you have that a product or service could solve? What resonates with you emotionally? What do you love in ad experiences? What’s just downright annoying or creepy? This is how our customers are thinking. And so should we marketers.

How important is it for anyone joining your team today to be comfortable with data-driven marketing?

It’s very critical. Marketing done right is powered by data, but it’s also about finding the right place and time to show a marketing message that’s relevant. Smart marketers realize that it goes beyond just having a lot of data — it’s about having the right data, extracting signal from noise. it’s about granular segmentation, yes, but it must be smart, meaningful segmentation. Targeting is great, yes, but are you finding those targets in the right moment? On the right device? With the right element of your marketing story in their buyer journey?

What’s the single most important component of your marketing stack (by description and/or vendor name)?

We believe in eating our own dog food and so are big users of our own technology! Our own omnichannel platform, our data management platform, our proprietary audience data asset, our own curated, premium media environments — we use all of these in concert to deliver great marketing and support our sales team’s efforts. In short, these tools let us communicate with our own prospects and customers across channels, formats and devices throughout their buyer lifecycle.

If you weren’t a marketer, what would you be?

I’m an animal person, through and through. I’d be a dog trainer or volunteer full-time at an animal rescue. Spending all day with animals sounds pretty darn good to me.


Market Forces Drive Addressable TV To Become Reality

August 30, 2017 — by John DeFilippis0


This article originally appears on MediaPost. 

YouTube, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix all have mountains of data on their users. They are also digital natives that operate on the backbone of the Internet.

For these companies, content delivery is automated, data-driven, smart, fast and on-demand. It is of course no surprise to see those that are ad-supported set their sights on TV ad dollars. For all of them, digital video and originals are at the top of the priority list and this is what will finally drive the industry to broad addressable TV solutions.

For years, addressable TV advertising has been an ideal that was often theory more than reality. Rather than place a television buy that reached tens of millions of households, but would only appeal to a small minority of those households, the addressable buy promises to largely remove the waste.

On its face, the appeal of such a targeting mechanism is clear: efficient marketing meant to drive higher ROI.  In the digital world, if a  campaign was targeted to people in the market for a new car, the TV buy could follow suit instead of relying on broader targeting aimed at everyone who was watching the same TV program at the same time. (Of course, addressable targets by the household meaning if a family of four resides there, no one will be sure if the target consumer will be watching at any given time).

What has made the prospect of addressable TV advertising frustrating for many marketers is that while it is technically achievable, the economics are sometimes difficult to balance.  Meanwhile, tapping data from third-party sources requires extra work for  marketers and it may not always be worth the effort.

But there may be a real shift in the market coming soon. The highly targeted audiences that are and will be available from the media giants mentioned earlier will (eventually) attract marketer budgets that are earmarked for traditional TV — cable, networks, local, etc. Traditional TV, the incumbents, will not passively stand by as the market shifts. The stakes are too high. So this is one of the primary market forces having an impact on change in the traditional TV industry. The other is a change in consumer behavior. Consumers want top quality programming, this is nothing new, but they want it on-demand and on all devices, which is an inherent characteristic of digitally delivered content today. Evolution is inevitable.

As a result, I expect to see a  rise in addressable TV advertising, but it will remain a relatively small slice of the market for the next few years as the industry sorts itself out.

The current state of addressable

At this writing, tens of millions of homes in the U.S. are able to receive addressable TV advertising and some 70 million will be able to get it by 2020.  But just a fraction of homes are actually being served ads this way. According to eMarketer, addressable TV accounted for just 1.3% of the total market in 2016, a figure that the researcher predicts will jump to 3% by 2018.

As those numbers indicate, addressable has been used more for experimentation than a  regular line item on media plans. So far, carmakers have shown the most interest in addressable. For example, Toyota promoted its Prius Prime to 18-49 year-old tech savvy consumers with annual incomes of $75,000-plus last year. Hyundai placed a similar addressable buy to promote its Genesis model, targeting consumers with annual salaries of $100,000 or more.

Marketers, looking to gain more of a 360-degree view of their customers, are also clamoring for more data so they can connect all of their audience buys across all screens. Ultimately, driving outcomes that build a business is the goal and knowing what budget to spend and where to spend requires a holistic planning, execution, measurement, and optimization effort. That said, I don’t expect the addressable TV market to crack wide open too soon. There is much invested in the history of the industry; cable operators, for instance, are likely to keep experimentation on the edges until they see a clear benefit.

But the momentum is moving toward an addressable world. That means that even though addressable TV has been on the table for years and the pace of progress, for some,  has been a source of frustration, marketers may soon start achieving what until now has merely been an idea.


Solving Ad Fraud This Year

August 25, 2017 — by Kyle Turner0


Ad fraud has been menacing the digital ad industry for years and has grown beyond critical mass…Though one study by the Bot Baseline report predicts that fraud will fall 10% this year, not everyone agrees. An estimate by Adloox claims that ad fraud will cost the industry $16.4 billion this year, up from $12.4 billion last year.

The report details that nearly 20% of digital ad spending was wasted in 2016 and up to 29% of programmatic spending ran on invalid traffic.

From my vantage point, as head of Inventory Quality at MediaMath, I would agree that this industry problem is bad. In part this is because fraudsters are ingenious about inventing new ways to rob advertisers and steal from the ecosystem. Here are the three biggest trends I’ve seen this year:

1. Counterfeit/”spoofed” domains. In a sleight of hand, fraudsters show premium domains during the bid request (like but when the impression is served it actually arises from something like, which is phony. This may lead to putting the legit domain ( on an advertiser blacklist. One of the tools available to mitigate this issue is ads.txt, a tech tool developed by IAB Labs that helps to identify fake or unauthorized sellers. MediaMath supports ads.txt and is eager to see publisher adoption grow.

2. Invalid traffic. Also known as “non-human traffic,” this is a bit of a misnomer as it can actually be created by humans. Whether generated by bots or people, malicious invalid traffic wastes marketers’ money and undermines confidence in the digital media ecosystem. The scope of such activity is huge; security firm Imperva found that 28.9% of all web traffic last year came from “bad bots.” MediaMath leverages a mix of proprietary techniques and certified third party vendors to combat invalid traffic, and does not tolerate invalid traffic being sent to our platform

3. Brand safety. This isn’t a new issue, but it garnered new attention this year as journalists highlighted instances of brands advertising on brand-unsafe video content, along with an increased awareness of the challenge of “fake news.” Many advertisers have taken steps to limit their exposure to user-generated content and rely on ecosystem partners to enforce brand safety across their campaigns. MediaMath’s Curated Market guarantees marketers that their messaging won’t run on brand-unsafe properties.

What will fraudsters come up with next year? Unfortunately, it’s likely that the cat-and-mouse game between ad tech providers and bad actors will continue. But we hope that this year will represent a turning point in the industry’s efforts to combat fraud. Leveraging the right tools and partners, marketers can help ensure that their ads run in clean, safe, authorized, authentic and well-lit environments.

If you’re attending IAB AdTech & Data Brazil, head down to see our General Manager of Supply, Lewis Rothkopf, speak on Inventory Quality and Brand Safety Tuesday, August 29.


Let’s Make an Ad!

August 24, 2017 — by Peter Gosling1


Over the past few weeks we have explored some of the exciting opportunities but also limitations of being creative in a programmatic world. The potential for delivering a perfect ad is there. Who knows what the future really holds? But today I want to get real and look at actually making an ad. Specifically an animated banner ad.

In the past, there was really only one option, Adobe Flash. If you ever wanted to do anything more advanced than a static image, or animated GIF, then Flash was where you went. Today, HTML5 is the default and things aren’t so simple.

One of the greatest benefits of HTML5 is that it is totally open and uses web standards of HTML, JS and CSS. Each HTML5 banner ad is essentially a little self-contained webpage. As such it can be authored in any way that you would make a standard web page. This naturally brings a lot of benefits, but also challenges. There are so many options for creating HTML that it can become overwhelming to know the best way to do it.

The Construct of an HTML5 ad
Before getting into some of the options for producing an ad, it is worth explaining exactly what goes into making one. From a tech POV there are four main elements: HTML, CSS, Java Script and Images.

  • HTML
    Typically named index.html – this is the core structure for the ad. This is the file that is initially loaded and all other components are pulled into this file. Learn more here.
  • CSS
    Cascading Style Sheets are the rules that are applied to the HTML content to give it its look and feel or ‘style’. Everything from font size, family, weight, color, positioning, line height through to page positioning, image placement and all other visual rules are defined by the CSS file. Learn more here.
  • Java Script
    The interactive functionality and animation of elements is typically handled by the JS file. Typically, the content of the HTML and the styles of the CSS can be controlled and manipulated by the JS file. (I say typically as JS can inject content, and CSS can also handle some animation). JS is really the code that makes the ads do something more than just be a static page layout. Learn more here.
  • Images
    While you can achieve a lot with just code in HTML, CSS and JS, more often than not you do require some kind of image in your ad. Typically a JPG, GIF or PNG. A lot of what makes building ads hard is file size requirements and limitations, most of which comes from images. The IAB has standards that ad servers adhere to, so always worth checking what the latest is, but as a rule of thumb it needs to be under 200kb. For photography, and images with gradients or a lot of colors, I use JPG. For anything with just a few colors, use GIF and if you need the image to have transparency, then you have to use a PNG. Learn more here.

So, that covers the technical building blocks. But when it comes to making a good ad, you also need the ad to work creatively. At a minimum, this includes a well-written headline, compelling supporting imagery and a strong CTA (Call to action). An ad creator won’t always have control over all components, but as stated in previous posts, the importance of having the creative as part of the discussion as early as possible is paramount to the campaign’s success.

Great, now we know what we need. What do we use to put it together? I see three main options for the production:

  1. Free software
    You can make HTML5 ads in a text editor, but honestly that would be silly. If you want to make an ad, you can get started with Google’s free Web Designer Software. It is an open Beta project and offers users a familiar interface to generate the required code. It is built very much with Google’s own products in mind, as most of the widgets and options are designed for use with their own ad tech. But you can produce pretty sophisticated HTML5 ads, and export them for use on any ad server.
  2. Paid software
    As you may have read, I am a self-confessed Flash lover. So, if you spent a lot of time with Flash and wish to continue, then Adobe Animate is available. You will of course need a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, but Adobe Animate brings the well-established and powerful Flash authoring environment to modern standards, allowing you to build very sophisticated ads and export to HTML5.
  3. Ad Platforms
    If you are making lots of ads consistently, then ad platforms offer huge benefits to designers. There are a number of ad platforms available, but essentially all offer the ability to streamline the process of building ads, especially when it comes to making variations of sizes and messages. This leads onto DCO, which you really have to use a platform for to offer any kind of sophistication. At MediaMath we use SpongeCell and its self-service platform allows for easy creation of ads, multiple variations and additional functionality to all be built in the platform. To get access to these advanced tools there is of course a cost, and often they have associated ad-serving fees, but when you need to support a campaign with a dozen different variations in a dozen different sizes, then this cost quickly becomes irrelevant!

In part two of Let’s Make an Ad, I will do a screen capture of making a simple, animated HTML5 ad in Google Web Designer. This will hopefully show people unfamiliar with the process what it actually takes to make an ad!


What is the Perfect Ad? : Part 2

August 17, 2017 — by Peter Gosling0


In part one we explored five different factors that would result in a perfect ad. Perfect defined as every impression leading to a business outcome. This required suspending belief at a few points, but overall each of the elements ARE technically possible. But, the actual creative asset needs to do a lot and be specific to each person viewing it. It is unrealistic to make a different ad for each impression so, logically, we need to make the ads dynamic.

Before going deep on the issues, let’s highlight what I am talking about. Imagine one ad unit, in this example a simple 300×250 display ad, (but dynamic can and should be applied to all channels and formats). This particular ad has a background image, a heading, the company logo and a call to action. In a traditional work flow, a designer uses software such as photoshop or illustrator to design the initial version of the ad, get necessary approvals and then make different variations. Dynamic units, have a similar starting point, but all of the variations are done dynamically from a feed. In the graphic below you will see how a simple ad unit can be broken down into its core components, all of which can then be variables loading in different assets depending on what we know about the target user.

This is a very simple example of what can be done today.  So, again why aren’t all ads dynamic? The reasons are various and complicated. Way too in-depth for me to explain, but there are many smart people discussing some of them here:

  • Media planning and creative separation. The designers should be involved in the targeting conversations.
    “But media and creative agencies don’t always agree who owns dynamic creative as a service for clients. Dynamic creative emerged at media agencies because they had the skills to do audience-based targeting. But as the technology has evolved to use machine learning to deliver personalized messages to individuals, it will benefit from more creative thinking, said Diaz Nesamoney, CEO at Jivox.”
  • Overwhelming amount of data. Creatives need to able to understand and take actionable insights from all available sources.
    “There is more data than ever before, and it is only as good as what you do with it. And creativity is still the best way to solve really chunky problems. There has to be more of this marriage.”
  • Historical processes limiting the advancement of new technologies 
    “…many traditional marketers and their creative agencies are still largely inclined to make ads that tell the same story to the whole country or planet. And the disjointed nature of ad agency holding companies are a big obstacle to advancing programmatic creative”

Progress is being made and the IAB has outlined a Dynamic Content Ad Standard that will help standardize production. But we still have a long way to go. I would like to keep the dream going and believe that all ads will be dynamic. But not necessarily in how we see them today. Right now, dynamic creative assembles ads from multiple pieces. Pulling from a pre-defined list of messages, images, call to actions and information to assemble what it believes is the ad you are most likely to engage with. This could be a product image, or a different background, or even something like sports scores or if it is sunny outside. The ads are templates that fill in the placeholders from a set of options. This can be very effective and gets us close to truly personalized ads. A great example of this comes from  SpongeCell who produced a campaign for Tennessee Tourism that pulled together video clips dynamically and made a custom spot for you. It is a great example of what is possible today. But even that Cannes Lions-winning awesomeness was compiling an ad from a bucket of pre-made assets.

Perhaps, that is good enough? — You could argue that if there are enough combinations available to make a personal connection to every single person, then we’re pretty close to reaching that perfect ad we defined earlier. But I believe to really get there, we need to go further. TRULY dynamic ads, would generate the imagery and messaging in real-time, based on the thousands of inputs available to them. The closest example I can use to illustrate this is how far video games have come in the last decade.  Rendering a scene as you are playing and changing the visuals depending on what is happening. Graphics and processing power are at a point now where it’s photo-realistic and fast. So, if you are a sports brand selling sneakers – rather than making hundreds of image files of different combinations of how the runner looks (male/female/young/old) or what type of shoes they’re wearing (running/gym/casual/fashion) in a different environment (indoors/outdoors/city/countryside) instead of making all of those possible variations, the ad can ‘generate’ the right image based on all of the information it has about the user and the brands business objectives. You program the ad to deliver the right combination. I’m excited about dynamic creative, not because I can show you a different image based on if it is sunny outside, but by the thought that the role of a “creative” (a designer and the ad itself) in the future will not be limited by what combination of pixels you can put together in software. But by what your knowledge and imagination can communicate to a machine, that will then create something, checking all five of the boxes we outlined earlier. Producing the perfect ad… well, set of ads, there really is no such thing as a perfect ad as everyones idea of perfect is different.

Programmatic advertising isn’t killing creativity — it is opening it up to a new world of possibilities.

Phew! — ok back to earth… next week will be more real. I’m gonna make a simple ad in HTML5 using three different tools and show you how I did it. For me, today’s reality is exciting, but tomorrow’s potential is freakin’ incredible!

Next week: Let’s make an ad!