Great programmatic media is creative programmatic media

Great programmatic media is creative programmatic media

By: John Drake

There was a time in the early 2000s when media planning experienced a renaissance. Spurred largely by Crispin Porter + Bogusky and their phenomenal work for Mini, media choices were suddenly much more creative. A personal favorite was how the Crispin team thought that the staples, which held together a Rolling Stone magazine, could be painted yellow for a Mini to motor around them.

Image: Mini ad by Staples from ads of the


Since then, many brands — often with the help of technology — have pushed the bounds of creative media planning into exciting places, from British Airways’ #lookup to IBM’s “smarter cities.”

It’s this lens of creative thinking that makes programmatic media so exciting. The further media teams can push their minds creatively, the better programmatic can perform. Drake Cooper pushes our programmatic media to be creative in four ways:

  1. Creative campaign setup

Tying ads to actions is one of the most important uses of programmatic, but thinking about this creatively is what can separate a good campaign from a great one. Programmatic planners should build campaigns that play off the content structure and behavior of the advertiser’s site. This takes retargeting to a more creative level because simply seeing specifically searched-for products in an ad can be creepy. But seeing ultra-relevant messaging about an area of a brand you expressed interest in is well-targeted advertising.

  1. Turquoise audiences

The ability to custom blend audiences in programmatic is a great opportunity. The combinations of demographics and lifestyle behaviors are endless, and they can each be tested with each other. As brands get increasingly better at articulating the unique characteristics of their customers, programmatic can be of increased value to find and acquire more of them. Our agency affectionately refers to such audience creation as turquoise audiences — take a little bit of blue, a little bit of green, etc. Great creativity here can find wonderful mixes of relevant audiences.

  1. Message relevancy

The instantaneous launch ability of programmatic media is one of its strongest and most creative components. It’s hard to find a better example of this than when Nike used real-time buying to deliver 3-D display ads during the World Cup.

Having media teams consider all the current happenings in the world creates some of the most relevant and exciting messaging opportunities for brands — which is why it’s difficult to disagree with Jim Kiszka, senior manager for digital media at Kellogg, when he said recently on WARC that for programmatic success, “Thirty percent is the media; 70 percent is the creative.”

  1. Design leadership

Media teams should be able to call the shots on programmatic calls-to-action without having to run everything through the creative department. This goes from key messaging to the action button. After all, these teams are seeing a collection of work across various industries, and they couldn’t be closer to what the audience is responding to — so they can certainly be trusted to create compelling calls-to-action. Within an agency, if everyone you hire is creative, then the risk is low.

The ways for media teams to be creative in programmatic are endless. Let’s put these opportunities to use in responsible, fun and surprising ways.

drakeJohn Drake is vice president of brand planning at Drake Cooper. Find him online at @JohnDrake

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