One of the great difficulties of advertising in the digital age is that – with all of the customisation and attention-grabbing ad units brands have access to – they still have to plan their campaigns and strategies well in advance. This is especially important with quarter four fast-approaching – the time when marketers are most concerned about the ROI they get from their paid media.

Creative is incredibly important for ads to distinguish themselves, and that ability to stand out and engage the consumer is what drives ROI. Marketers know they can take advantage of advanced rich media creative. Meanwhile, more and more are utilising dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) to deliver multiple permutations of an ad, and then optimising toward the version that performs best for targeted audience segments.

But what if a campaign misses the mark? The truth is that many projects require a great deal of preparation and planning as teams of developers build the ads and set up multiple versions. Marketers need the ability to leverage these engaging creative options quickly. Fortunately, there are new tools entering the market that can help, in the form of instant-creative templates.

Coding is a laborious process and, in some cases, explains why marketers might not want to take advantage of the kind of creative that can actually stand out amid the clutter of a page. As programmatic ad buying and serving continues to grow, advertisers don’t want to blast out creative that fails to capture consumers’ interest. Instant creative tools enable advertisers and creative agencies to deploy creative while greatly reducing development time. By using pre-built templates, marketers can alter campaigns in mid-flight without having to completely reinvent the wheel every time they want to make a change.

The ability to adapt creative in real-time opens up a world of opportunity for an advertiser, allowing them to be more flexible and improve elements that are failing to resonate with consumers. They can also advance different products or services if need be, based on what they learn about their target audience and early campaign results. Plug and play creative means that marketers are not stuck with a specific ad format, nor are they confined to concrete DCO templates. Instead, they are granted the flexibility to customise, easily removing some of the labour from the developer and giving it to the ad operations folks.

This isn’t to say that instant-creative will ultimately replace DCO. The two can actually be used in tandem, helping advertisers make crucial decisions about larger strategies. DCO requires upfront planning, which helps marketers capitalise on dynamic content. The main difference between instant creative and DCO is that instant creative executions can’t pull in creative assets from feeds or make variables change. While they do offer speed and the ability to change an ad on very short notice, the alterations still need to be made manually.

DCO campaigns are built with a clear strategy, utilising insights to adjust campaigns to tailor them to the strategy. That requires a bit more long-term thinking. If a marketer merely wants to conduct tests and look at the results, then instant creative is an easier way to do that. It’s immediate, and can give marketers a sense of how a different permutation or idea feels without investing a lot of time and labour.

Advertisers can still have all the capabilities of designing bespoke ad formats, but in template form. So, advertisers and creative agencies no longer have to settle for substandard versions of rich media ads to get consumers’ attention. They can deliver the ad experience they want faster, granting their creative development team even more agility and efficiency.

If nothing else, the dawn of instant creative provides marketers a tool to help them increase the rate of creative evolution in the industry. While media tools have developed by leaps and bounds, advertisers and agencies have lacked the creative-facing platforms to capitalise on marketing changes and consumer behaviour. Now, finally, they have the ability to maintain pace with the business and media sides.

Michael McNulty

Michael McNulty


Michael McNulty, Product Marketing Manager, Rich Media, Sizmek.