How much time does your agency or brand spend on strategy? On technology? On planning, budgeting, reporting? Probably a lot, I’ll bet. Now, how much do you spend on the creative that’s actually at the core of your advertising?
Far too often, it seems like all that other stuff demands way more time than we have to spend on creative, especially as the pipeline automates between brand and end user, with fewer hands touching the process. Yet, end users will only see (or care about) one tangible thing: the creative. And if you’re spending your resources on everything but the creative, what are the chances the result is bad? Very likely.
This is particularly a challenge with mobile advertising, which like the rest of the digital ad space is rapidly becoming more automated and fragmented. And mobile is even more complicated and demanding than its traditional and digital predecessors.
Available screen space is limited, and shrinking, while viewer patience seems to last only a handful of microseconds. The ad must capture attention without annoying the end user, and still deliver real value to the brand and the publisher. And the goals for each ad can vary widely from brand to brand. Every ad on a mobile platform is essentially a micro-moment that must be treated differently from TV or even desktop browser ads, and tuned for highly specific and targeted audiences.
This set of demands has made storytelling on mobile devices as complex and difficult as any platform ever, even as the sector attracts more and more attention, money and interest. It’s no surprise that creative can get pushed to the backseat while everyone tries to address all the other priorities and technical issues that also must be served.
Yet, the need for creative storytelling is eternal. If we don’t tell a compelling story, there’s not a business. Someone in the process must ensure that the creative is, well, creative. That the creative leverages and fits the right available technology. That it can deliver value without annoying users.
To thrive, every ad needs the protection and attention of an empowered player in the middle of the process. That player must ensure a given ad uses flexible, highly granular, creative-first solutions that can stand out in the cacophony of the current ad climate. That means the ad should:
- Be polite. Don’t grab the end user’s attention by torturing them.
- Put the end user in control. If users get to decide whether to join an experience, they’re much more likely to enjoy it.
- Make sure it’s the right tool for the job. Is this solution the best one to tell this message to this specific target audience?
- Always put creative first. I’ve listed it last so you won’t forget, but creative has to be both the first and last thought, and never an afterthought for the organization shepherding your creative to success.
Better ad solutions such as these can empower brands and marketers while driving more revenue for publishers. No longer are agencies putting dollars in the market and spraying and praying. They have very different and unique goals for each of their clients, and they need partners that can provide the full breadth of creative and tech options.
So who can take care of the creative? One vital option can be the right creative-first ad tech company, configured and positioned to be your team’s quarterback on creative. But that quarterback must come to the game knowing the technology backward and forward. It needs a creative team integrated with its tech team. And it needs to know how to optimize your message for specific publishers and audiences using the right delivery system.
Putting creative ad tech in the middle may make some uncomfortable. Plenty of people have been unhappy with the ad-tech business for a while now, and for good reason. But the good news is the sector’s bad actors and superfluous players are getting squeezed out. Increasingly, what remains are focused partners who can shepherd your creative to the right places. It’s those kinds of partners who can ensure that creative is at the core of your ad, not the last consideration after all others.
About the author
Daniel Meehan is the CEO and founder of PadSquad, a creative-first mobile advertising stack with a focus on user-controlled, in-line mobile ad formats that foster polite engagement with consumers