Can Creative Execution Ever Catch Up To Facebook Targeting?

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With the emergence of Facebook as a leading direct response venue, and as the new “Target Marketing Data” behemoth, it seems likely that the upper hand in the “merry war” between the data wonks and the creative teams may have gone to the wonks for good.

Here’s the deal: the data riches for targeting based on information shared on Facebook and (especially) from behaviors tracked throughout the web, now stretch outward from Facebook’s Targeting Basics, into infinity and beyond. As long as people keep “liking” things, viewing videos and taking surveys about which member of ABBA they are, the data wonks will never run out of new options for creatives to try.

But the availability of a Fort Knox of targeting data isn’t the only new source of demand for creatives. There’s also the rapid ascent of the world’s (vastly) preferred medium: video.

Video… And Carousels, Connected Video & Retargeting

Think about it: when you first signed up for Facebook (or Instagram) you probably weren’t thinking of either as a platform designed for or dominated by video. The same could be said for mobile as a whole. But everyone’s experience online in the past two years has increasingly been shaped by video. In fact, Cisco predicts that 80 percent of the world’s Internet data traffic will be video by 2019.

And if they haven’t already, your creative team will tell you that video is significantly harder to produce in multiple variations than copy and design elements, but are increasingly in demand. Carousel video ads, and sequential and retargeting video options, are adding to the demand. These methods will become increasingly popular over the next several months as brands experimenting with them continue to succeed.

How Can Advertisers Keep Up?

With the explosion of demand ushered in by this vast growth in both technical capability and customer appetite, we wouldn’t blame creatives for retiring early. But creative directors and CMOs are already seeing that the current methods for sourcing creative can’t possibly keep up with future (or even current) demands for creative variation and nuance. Programmatic placement and re-targeting may be a reality, but robotic creation of video isn’t.

Here are some ideas that can help you think more critically about just how much variation you might practically need, what kinds and how you can up your output levels to meet new demand as it inevitably ladders up:

6 Keys For Meeting The New Demands for Targeted Video

Master Narratives: One of the ways to reduce overall strain on the creative team is to focus on creating and sustaining narratives that have depth and broad application. Do the digging – the best work comes from deep foundations.

One-to-One? If you read the advertising and marketing press, you’ll come across someone who is declaring the one-to-one future for advertising. That said, until targeting and production become free, marketing is always going to be a game of getting a max return on the combination of these two investments.

Story Based Variation: When you’re considering what kinds of variations in execution really do have significance, let the variations on your themes proceed from the story you’re trying to tell, and the audience(s) with whom you’re sharing it, rather than “external” attributes like product color options. Think primarily in terms of people, and develop variations that extend the story naturally – then let the data folks get their tests on to find out how you can further refine either your story or target. Think of that master theme as a living thing that needs to breathe and grow.

Mindset and Process: A big part of being prepared for greater volume and breadth of creative output – especially for video – is simply knowing that’s the game you’re playing. Today’s discipline is very different from the time when brands only had to worry about making a few ads per year for network television. Now you have to make the most of every shoot, work with agility and speed, delegating across a broader population of individuals and production teams. You have to dedicate more time to creating visual and verbal standards that can be readily understood and applied in a variety of contexts and situations.

Augment Your Creative Team: The great thing about making changes in mindset and process is that it puts you in position to successfully augment your creative team. You’ll want to make your brand essence, creative constraints and project specifics something you can “export” efficiently – even when you’re not there. Make your standards clear, concise, and portable, and your creative team can be anywhere.

Inclusive Storytelling: The ultimate way to augment your creative team is to invite your customers to become part of it. That’s not merely a matter of working with a crowdsourcing platform – though that can certainly help. The real key is designing your master narratives and stories for inclusion.

The other great thing about your customers helping you to develop your stories? It may be the only sure way to stay one step ahead of the data wonks.

James-4085_300ppiJames DeJulio is the co-founder, president and chief creative officer at Tongal. His mission is creative populism — empowering people from all over the world to pursue their creative passions, and helping them to earn a living with their talent.

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