Elizabeth Grant
Nov 15, 2021

Is creativity coming of age in today's programmatic world?

With attention in short supply in digital, brands must rise above just offering standard advertising and embrace stop-you-in-your-tracks creativity, argues the operations director, APAC, Inskin Media.

Is creativity coming of age in today's programmatic world?

In this programmatic-driven world, it's targeting and creativity that builds brands, drives engagement and, ultimately, sells products. But in a cluttered, noisy online environment, where marketers more than ever need their brands to stand out, creativity is very much an afterthought.

And what is served up? Well, it's a diet of banners, MPUs, leaderboards and a raft of other standard display ad formats. And while science is centre stage in programmatic, with technology delivering advertising, the art of creativity has taken a back seat. But all this is changing. After all, what's the point in delivering advertising that no one pays attention to? 

Standard is no longer good enough

With attention in short supply in digital, brands must rise above just offering standard advertising and embrace stop-you-in-your-tracks creativity. Yes, standard display formats have been successful. Offering commoditised formats that can be traded programmatically has made them attractive to marketers. But while standard formats have limited – even stifled – creativity, the emergence of high impact formats now offer more space and scope to allow it to flourish. 

Developments in the industry are also strengthening the case for new advertising formats that deliver cut-through.

Firstly, how digital campaigns are measured is changing because current metrics just aren't good enough. With the demise of third-party cookies, the industry is recognising the need to kick its obsession with the click. The clamour from brands for metrics that deliver what they need – richer, more valuable insights reflecting the importance of attention and engagement – is finally being heard and addressed. And, secondly, now it's possible to trade these high impact formats programmatically, making them much more accessible.

Rebuilding trust in advertising

There's also the factor of trust. For too long, credence has been given to technology and how the message is delivered. Small formats, often shoehorned into a digital environment from another medium, coupled with a lack of creativity, have tarnished digital advertising. It's become seen as low quality and low value, focused on short-term sales rather than building long-term brand value.   \

But swapping these in for captivating, engaging, high-impact ad formats transform advertising. By capturing people's attention, delivering better experiences, and enhancing the environment they appear in, brand advertising is being elevated in the eyes of the consumer. And this is critical because when it comes to trust, creativity is the number one driver of this in advertising.   

But the impact of creativity is not just felt in attention. It also filters through to crucial hard business metrics. According to Nielsen, creativity accounts for a 47% contribution to sales, the single most important contributor by some way. And where does targeting come in? Well, this is contributing a lowly 9%, highlighting the industry limitations of focusing too much on data-driven approaches at the expense of creativity. 

Research that Lumen has conducted with British Gas shows that ad attention correlates to conversions and sales, proving that the longer you look at an ad, and the more times you see an ad, the more you convert. And coupled with this, the Attention Council carried out a meta-analysis by aggregating over 50 attention studies. In analysing case studies from multiple industries, they found a connection between attention levels and business outcomes, such as sales lift, reporting that there is "…overwhelming evidence proving the benefits of attention metrics".

For too long, the industry has dodged its creative obligations by entrusting technology to deliver advertising at the expense of clear messaging and engaging creativity. The emergence of innovative formats that capture attention means advertisers have no excuse now for not being creative. And these formats deliver exponentially higher attention—20x or more, in our case—compared to the standard display ads available.

These new opportunities herald a bright future for creativity. The value of creativity, combined with technology, can deliver the effective advertising brands need to stand out in a cluttered environment. Creativity also shows respect for a publisher's content and is welcomed by consumers, all helping rebuild trust in advertising to the benefit of everyone. 


Elizabeth Grant is APAC operations director at Inskin Media.

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