To offer personalization, brands need to leverage a combination of data, channel, and optimization.
I recently came across a study by Salesforce.com on customer expectations that caught my attention. 59% of consumers today expect brands to personalize the information they receive from them. Furthermore, 79% are willing to share information in exchange for relevant experiences. The 1:1 consumer experience is clearly the new battleground for brands today.
The need for relevance has heralded tools such as creative management platforms (CMP) and dynamic creative optimization (DCO) in recent years. Among DCO platforms, there’s a wide range of personalization abilities. All the while, brands are trying to decipher which tool can help them achieve the coveted marketing goal of delivering the right message to the consumer, in the right channel and at the right time.
Dynamic creative is often confused with creative versioning, a technology which, as the name indicates, generates versions of an ad for different audiences. Most ad servers and Creative Management Platforms (CMP) offer this capability. However, they only use elementary data such as general demographics to inform creative. They do not evolve the creative along with the customers’ journey as it unfolds over time, leaving them with an experience that is far from relevant.
A successful dynamic creative strategy goes beyond creative versioning to offer personalization.
The difference between the two is akin to buying a dress versus getting it tailored. In a store, there may be a ton of variety, but little relevance for the customer if the clothes don’t match her needs. With tailoring, there is immense scope for customization that stems from two-way communication.
In other words, marketers need to not only speak but also listen to consumers as they interact online.
To achieve personalization with DCO, brands need to leverage three key ingredients: Data, Channel, and Optimization.
- Data: Versioning technology uses limited data points often confined to audience placement information. But generating ads based on elementary data such as gender, age, or even basic retargeting is just scratching the surface. Personalization requires a wealth of data such as CRM, contextual and third-party. Advanced DCO can incorporate such data and render creatives in real-time using a decisioning engine that can handle complex logic. The end result is a message that resonates with the context of a customer. For example, a retail brand can very well version messages based on the gender of the viewer. But it can go a step further and incorporate current weather data to recommend products ideal for local conditions.
- Channel: As per the same Salesforce report quoted earlier, brand customers on average use 10 channels to communicate with companies. While many still operate in silos, more often than not, they are willing to share data for a consistent experience across channels. Ad servers and CMPs are generally restricted to one or two channels. Personalized DCO can render messages across display, video, social, native, website. and e-mail. It can also sequence these ads to keep the messaging relevant as the customer journey evolves.
- Optimization: Sophisticated decisioning and omni-channel capabilities pave the way for true creative optimization. With AI-enabled DCO, marketers do not have to wait until a campaign ends to analyze performance. Real-time insights can be gleaned to identify the most efficient paths to conversion. This, in turn, can inform media and creative decisions while the campaign is still underway. Strategic, data-backed decisions thus replace the typical ‘spray and pray’ mindset.
The mere adoption of DCO though does not guarantee personalization. After all, Rome was not built in a day. Harnessing dynamic creative requires a strategy that learns from experience. In an upcoming 3-part series, we will explore how brands can scale personalization with DCO over time. We call this the ‘Crawl-Walk-Run’ approach.