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From Mad Men to Math Men: The Future of Dynamic Creative Optimization

Lisbon, July 12th, 2018

Codedesign, a Lisbon-based independent digital agency has been making interesting discoveries using Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO).

We spoke to Codedesign’s founder Bruno Gavino, to get an insight on the evolution of DCO and what impact it might have for brands and marketers.

Can you please define Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO)?

Delivering the correct message to a receptive customer has been the dream of every marketeer since the origins of Marketing. With the expansion of segmentation and Programmatic, Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) represents a huge breakthrough in the way brands and advertisers communicate with audiences.

DCO refers to the ability to offer personalised ad creative in real-time to a specific user, integrating two worlds we are very sensitive to at Codedesign: creativity and analytics. DCO allows the advertiser to generate real time adverts based on context, behaviour, demographics, etc., resulting in the most engaging ad experience ever created.

How is DCO shifting the landscape for advertisers?

Nowadays, the user is everywhere. Target audiences are totally fragmented, but this set of tools allows us to customise our strategy to reach users in different contexts. This is huge for markets such as USA or UK where we’re unable to have reach, let alone frequency, to the entire inventory.

The ability to leverage data into DCO also opens doors to do programmatic with audio in online radios. This is a huge opportunity for old and dead medias such radio and FTA. Targeting technology is changing the game. It is providing us with much more insightful information about behaviour and deeper knowledge of the consumer.

Real-time YouTube and TV ad rolls are just around the corner using data for targeting specific families. Full digital integration is no longer a technology constraint, but only an eminent status quo “optimization”.

How long has Codedesign been offering DCO and why?

At Codedesign, we’ve always used several sources of data for deciding and optimizing all the digital assets we handle for our clients. Being a performance driven digital agency comes with great responsibility because you need to look closely to everything that might bring differentiation to your clients. Our job implies that we are always looking and staying ahead of the curve for all tech breakthroughs.

We have been using DCO since the start of programmatic. Originally by dynamically retargeting shoppers with products they had viewed or left abandoned in their digital shopping carts. That now has evolved into something much more interesting and targeted, mixing several sources of data into design.

How does DCO differ from Programmatic creative?

DCO is an expansion of Programmatic creative. In one sentence, programmatic refers to the process of adding automation into the creative process. DCO takes this even further by including additional layers of data and using optimization techniques like multivariate testing to find the best contextual solution.

Let’s say you have a user, in his thirties, browsing for cars and with an interest in surfing. Why shouldn’t we use all this information to test different creatives? We do, and that has a direct impact on the campaign performance.

What technologies are used to achieve DCO?

There are several. Cost-effective, automated DCO tools are here and expanding. Currently we use Sizmek and Appnexus, but Google AdWords also has offers to do this.

What skills are required to create DCO?

The skills required are: design, storytelling, programming, campaign management, and analytics.

But like all aspects of digital marketing, PPC will always perform best when all the different disciplines/departments work together to support the same goal. A well rounded campaign should have analytics at the core, include powerful copy and creative and lead to a strong landing page, so these departments should really never work in isolation.

What industries/types of clients are leading the way on the use of DCO?

I would say that Financial services, Automotive, Telecom, Ecommerce, Retail, Travel and Entertainment are leading the way. Different verticals have different approaches to DCO. For example, Financial services companies can use DCO to leverage the vast array of constantly fluctuating stock ticker prices, or rates and promotions. Automotive and Telecom can use localization because certain regions may not carry certain vehicles, or not offer 4G and Fiber services to areas where only 3G infrastructure mostly exists. It’s all about creating and delivering the best message for the unique context, in real-time.

In which industries do you think DCO is more interesting to use?

It’s a very interesting question, but I wouldn’t focus so much on industries, as for most verticals we usually find a way to optimize information.

Optimization can work on targeted and untargeted campaigns where messaging and calls-to-action can easily by varied and optimized. We can use segmentation like Geo-targeted campaigns with localized information such as local promotions, products reflecting local tastes, local storefronts or product-based campaigns targeting users who have shown purchase intent, and that’s quite common among several verticals. Also, user journey campaigns with ad variations tailored to each step of the purchase path have a direct uplift in campaign performance for almost any vertical.

Of course, some specific features are more suited for specific industries. For instance, retargeting users with abandoned shopping cart promotions, upsells, and cross-sells are variants that are a must have for E-Commerce businesses.

What are the key points to bear in mind when doing DCO?

While DCO is a powerful tool, this doesn’t mean you can neglect your other channels. We’ve seen clickthrough rates triple as a result of using a DCO platform (specially for remarketing).

A number of cases that we’ve seen have also led to significant increases in conversion rates and average order values, but this only works integrated with the overall digital marketing strategy and remaining marketing initiatives.

What would you advise to companies that might be thinking about implementing DCO and are not sure?

Consult with experts. Haphazard advertising can be damaging to a brand image, so make sure you are working with a team who knows what they are doing.

Can a machine optimize creativity dynamically?

Yes, if all the data is accurate and aligned with brand objectives.

Any last thoughts on DCO?

Recent concerns about personal data protection may have stirred some doubts that data-driven marketing would be facing a setback. But the truth is, data is shaping marketing in an irreversible way. We have only scratched the surface of what can be achieved with DCO, and there’s still so much left to explore. The future of advertising isn’t in the hands of the “Mad Men”, but the “Math Men.”

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