Design compelling creative

Bringing a brand to life in digital means bridging the power of technology with the impact of creative. At the heart of brand advertising is a great story told with compelling creative. Audience insights fuel creative development, and technology ensures it works across screens. By harnessing the power of technology to develop relevant, engaging experiences, brands elevate their appeal and, ultimately, get rewarded with brand love.

  1. Audience insights make ads personal and real-time

    Brands can use audience insights to inform ads in the moment they are served, bringing a relevant creative experience to every viewer. Insights on audiences, including the content they enjoy, the channels they spend time with and the devices they use, can help creative teams build ads that resonate.

  2. Cross-channel, cross-device ads put audiences first

    Audiences divide their time across channels and devices, so it’s important that brands’ creative executions aren't confined to channels or screens in silos. Signals about the device and environment (web or app) on which an ad will show can inform the creative so it’s relevant to the user. The best cross-channel, cross-device creative executions meet audiences wherever they are, in a format that is most engaging for that context.

  3. Scale engagement across your campaigns

    Creative agencies spend a lot of time designing and hand-coding custom creative executions, such as homepage takeovers, for digital campaigns. Brands can bring that same high-quality creative to all of the ad placements in their display campaign. Creative agencies have powerful tools at their disposal today to accomplish this at scale.

Important features for driving ad engagement

Consumers’ answer to "How important is each of the following in getting you to interact with online ads?"

- “Brand Engagement in the Participation Age,” AdAge and Google, February 2014

Why it matters

Today’s consumers are in control. They reward relevant messages with engagement, and penalize one-size-fits-all messages by tuning out. When they do engage, they like to control when, where and how. They're constantly connected via smartphones, tablets and computers. In addition, they often shift between devices - choosing the best digital companion for the moment. For these reasons, advertising creative should not just be compelling and relevant, it should also speak to an audience across channels and screens.

Although 20% of time spent on media is within a mobile environment, only 4% of US advertising spend is on mobile.
- "Internet Trends 2014,” Mary Meeker, May 2014.

Brands and their creative teams are now tasked with creating experiences that run seamlessly across screens, that take full advantage of the capabilities of each screen and speak directly to their intended audience. And programmatic buying can deliver these messages to audiences one impression at a time, providing relevant brand experiences to audiences, wherever they are.

To guarantee the ads you pay for actually appear and look great on all screens, you should insist to your ad agencies that your advertising creative be developed in a mobile-compatible format. And the one open, industry-standard, universal format for building mobile-ready creative is HTML5.
- An Open Letter from Publishers to Advertisers, IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence

How to succeed

To design compelling creative for brand building in a programmatic world, follow these three steps:

  1. Build creative that is ready for all screens and all channels at all times

    Build HTML5 creative that can work on multiple devices and in multiple channels. Customize some creative units to the unique characteristics of mobile devices by using features such as the touch screen, accelerometer, location-based information, and call functionality. Then, use programmatic buying to put creative to work at a moment’s notice.

    Keep in mind

    There are more people in HTML5-compatible environments than in Flash-compatible. Still, 84% of ad units are built in Flash.

    - Google internal data, September 2014
  2. Make it personal with "smart" creative

    Build a logic-based ad with dynamic creative to deliver the most relevant ad for each viewer, in real-time. The ad can use signals from a brand's organized audience insights, such as demographic, location and interest-based signals, to make each ad impression the most compelling possible for its viewer. To accomplish this, creative, analytics, and media teams need to be involved in conversations from the outset of a campaign to ensure a shared understanding of the data and targeting options that will inform the media buy.

  3. Share campaign results with creative teams

    Make sure to share campaign results with creative developers, designers and creative directors so they can optimize the creative strategy. Establishing a feedback loop will help them understand the ad sizes, formats, and special features that work best. They'll find value in knowing which creative assets have the best engagement, which videos have the best completion rates, which permutations of dynamic creative get the most attention, and any brand lift results that may be available.

Case study

See how TalkTalk increased reach while decreasing CPA with HTML5 and dynamic creatives

  1. TalkTalk

    One of U.K.’s largest broadband and voice providers, TalkTalk Telecom Group, and their creative agency 22Design, used HTML5 creative and programmatic buying to boost campaign performance across screens. The goal was to maximize reach, and lower costs. Noticing their Flash ads weren’t rendering properly on mobile, TalkTalk realized they were showing suboptimal creative (static backup images) to their audience. To fix this, 22Design used Google Web Designer and the DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform to build and run HTML5 ads instead of Flash. This reduced backup images from 7% to just 0.5%, and opened up a new area of inventory: mobile programmatic. TalkTalk expanded their programmatic buying strategy, ultimately lowering the campaign’s effective cost-per-action (eCPA) by 12%.

Executive summary

  • Step 1 – Organize audience insights
Step 2 - Design compelling creative

Get creativity and technology working together so that audience insights inform creative in real-time, ads render across screens and programmatic technologies deliver relevant, engaging ads.

  • Build creative that is ready for all screens and all channels at all times. Include HTML5 creative and some creative units that take advantage of the unique characteristics of mobile devices.
  • Use dynamic creative to deliver the most relevant ad for each viewer, in real-time.
  • Share campaign results with creative teams so that they can optimize the creative strategy.
  • Step 3 – Execute with integrated technology
  • Step 4 – Reach audiences across screens
  • Step 5 – Measure the impact

Engagement comes more easily when creativity and technology work together

To consistently produce compelling creative, brands can use audience insights to fuel creative strategy, perform real-time creative optimization and empower creative iteration. Technologies like HTML5 and dynamic creative can make ads both smart and engaging. Programmatic buying can deliver ads to all devices and all channels, at all times. These ways of bridging the power of technology with the impact of creative can be powerful drivers of brand impact.

A guide compiled by