Let’s face it: consumers love to hate advertising. It’s not that we really hate it, it’s that we think that we are objective, and would never – ever – be persuaded by a brand’s message. There’s a cognitive dissonance in that, because we all have brands we love, and we are all moved by some advertising.

The real problem here is that advertising needs to get better. People don’t hate all advertising – they hate advertising that is intrusive, annoying, or irrelevant. The onus is on the industry to change this, and it is getting better. Creative agencies are using technology to make ads that are more interactive, custom and relatable than ever before.

When YouTube first gained popularity around 2006, it seemed like the dawn of a new creative age in advertising. Every brand flocked to YouTube, and everyone wanted to “go viral.” YouTube seemed like a magical place where the age-old distinctions between advertising and content disappeared. Evian could captivate hundreds of millions of viewers with roller-skating babies. Ray Ban could stealthily seed an ad that would cement its cool factor with a new generation. In this new world, all your brand needed was the right creative agency and you would never have to buy video ads — people would watch and share your content far and wide.

While brands continue to earn millions of views with great creative, this model never scaled. Advertisers quickly found out that for every viral success, there were 10 failures, and they could not reliably reach viewers or measure success in the way they could with TV (or search advertising for that matter). Paid advertising had to enter the equation, and it obviously did. YouTube joined media companies in putting pre-roll on its videos, slapped the bulk of it on its exchange, and the rest is history. Repurposing TV ads — not creating long-form viral videos — became the norm.

Now it seems like the pendulum is swinging the other way, and the media agency executives are the coolest kids on the block. The conversation slowly transitioned from “going viral” to trading desks and programmatic and industry protocols for the interface among video players and ad units. Despite this, over half of the pre-roll ads in video continue to be repurposed TV ads. That’s too bad, because automation can change the game for creative people as much as media people.

The promise of automation is to make advertising more relevant than it ever has been. It’s not just about streamlining buying processes or reducing media waste. It’s about telling a different story to consumers based on where they live or who they are.

Consumers will always be willing to see ads as long as they get something in return, and that will never change. So this kind of happy trade-off is not only the future, it’s the past and present too. Its past relies on disruption but its future depends on data, targeting and technology. Who knows? Someone may even enjoy the ads they see.

As an industry, we’re moving towards a model where the traditional media and research silos are being eliminated and planning and buying is done holistically across teams and mediums. In other words, media teams and creative teams aren’t isolated anymore. Thanks to digital advertising as a medium, we don’t have to water down the creative to cater to a national audience anymore. So, the closer that creative, research, and media teams are, the more effective we can be on behalf of advertisers.

The history of adland has always been a tug of war between creative and media people. The real story is that this distinction is blurring, and the question is what agencies will do about it. Here are three recommendations TubeMogul has to ensure that creative agencies can embrace the programmatic revolution:

1) Clearly Establish Goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

This may seem obvious, but telling creatives what you’re trying to achieve goes a long way in helping us come up with something compelling and engaging. Do you want the viewer to watch the entire video? Click-through and convert? Enter their name and email via a secure-data field? Burn a hole in their memory? Let them know how we’ll be judged, and they’ll let you know how you can meet your goals. Yes, digital creatives understand (and relish) metrics and data.

2) All Assets, Upfront and in One Package

You would be amazed at how often deadlines get moved around because deliverables aren’t on time or are incomplete. Campaigns are often contextually relevant to current events and/or have short flight dates, and everyone has to move with a sense of urgency. Delivering a single package on time, with everything spec’d correctly, can save everyone from unnecessary emails and future headaches.

Also, don’t forget to include the click-through URLs and a list of every event to be tracked!

3) Technology is NOT an Afterthought

When other creative teams, marketers or media agencies engage digital creatives about technology in the interactive video advertising space; they always fall back to the KPIs and goals for said campaign or creative (individual ad unit). There are an amazing assortment of technologies that can be implemented from integration with 3rd party APIs and widgets (e.g., add–to-calendar, downloadable coupons) to dynamic content based on geographic or behavioral targeting. However, usage should be planned holistically with the campaign’s goals and KPIs in the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Technology isn’t a solution unto itself; you’ll always need a solid concept and engaging storyline. However, when applied correctly technology amplifies creative effectiveness, increases relevance and maximises engagement.

Ryan Levitt

Ryan Levitt


Ryan Levitt, Global Communications Manager, TubeMogul.