How DCO fuels a full-funnel ad strategy

Blog posted by Kelsey Meuse
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Kelsey Meuse, Product Marketing Manager, Dynamic Creative at Sizmek talks about dynamic creative optimisation and how it can benefit an ad strategy.

Dynamic creative has served as a great tool for adapting ad messages to different audience segments, switching creative elements, copy, and calls to action to drive the best results for each audience profile. It’s that last part, though – the CTA – that perhaps gets an undue amount of attention when it comes to dynamic creative optimisation (DCO). Dynamic creative is often viewed as a tool exclusively for direct-response advertisers who optimise based on site visits, products viewed, and other retargeting signals.

This reputation is further cemented by the ways brands keep their direct and brand marketing teams separated. They’ll build brand awareness with highly engaging messaging developed by a creative agency, and confine their DR strategy to ads that simply display the product a consumer was just looking at.  

This thinking is far too limiting for modern DCO. If marketers can tear down the siloes they’ve built for branding and DR, they’ll find that DCO technology allows them to streamline their efforts, resulting in continuous, always-on messaging that combines branding and direct-response elements across all parts of the purchase funnel in a single campaign – sometimes even in a single ad. 

To understand this idea in action, let’s first examine how many marketers currently execute their branding and DR campaigns. In automotive, many advertisers will run prospecting campaigns that target consumers on auto sites, as well as using conquesting tactics to lure consumers away from competitive model pages. In these dynamic campaigns, advertisers use creative elements that showcase different models and colour options. For branding campaigns, the automotive brand may run accolade messaging about one of their models, possibly using geo-targeting to tell a customer about a local offer or dealership.

As part of an always-on strategy, it would be possible to encapsulate different tactics within a single media plan, and rotate creative in and out as needed. DCO uses different target audiences to deliver the best possible creative message. So, if the audience is unknown (they have not visited a brand site), then it’s possible to serve them a brand ad or use geo-targeting to adapt the message based on location. If the consumer is further down the funnel and has visited the brand’s site, the ad can deliver a message related to the model they viewed, possibly delivering offers available in their area.

There are use cases available across verticals. Travel advertisers can easily use full-funnel targeting to tailor their messages built around destinations that might be attractive to a consumer based on where they live and the time of year. For instance, Marbella is a popular destination for Northern European travellers in the spring. If they know contextual information about what the user is reading on the publisher page, such as a travel destination or related interests, they can tailor their message with additional precision. A person reading about fashion or clubbing may be served ads for holidays to Ibiza, whereas someone reading about the cuisine of southeast Asia may receive deals for vacation packages to Thailand. The campaign can further tailor the message based around what kinds of packages the consumer has viewed on the advertiser’s site using retargeting.

With this holistic union of branding and DR, it’s easier for marketers to look across all of the digital media and get a clear view of consumers and ad performance. This works particularly well when ads are bought and served programmatically.

But despite the clear benefits, there are challenges to implementing this type of strategy. A lot of the resistance has to do with traditional operating procedures and teams. Creative and media are still kept in separate siloes, so it isn’t easy to bridge those two departments for an always-on campaign. What’s more, there is a general lack of knowledge and familiarity with the kind of technology needed to execute this plan, so it may seem daunting to any CMO who isn’t steeped in digital. 

Disappointingly, retail is one of the verticals where this kind of thinking is predominant, yet many retail advertisers are rich with creative elements showing their products. The big thing that keeps these brands from exploring these benefits is that many are tied to an old way of thinking, which is using beautiful banners that replicate a print catalog for branding, and more pedestrian ads for retargeting. 

But an always-on, full funnel strategy does not require sacrificing those captivating, eye-catching ads. What it offers is a lot of flexibility within a single unit, provided marketers are smart about building their ads. Brand marketers are not realising that a dynamic creative solution offers them the ability to use data to their advantage, using contextual information to adjust the creative depending on the season or a consumer’s personal interests. These kinds of signals allow these campaigns to deliver brand messages to the same premium audiences, but personalise the messaging based on what they know. Brands can go a step further, even using retargeting in their branding efforts to tell a story through sequential messaging, based on a consumer’s engagement with previous ads.

There is a huge opportunity here for advertisers, but also a challenge. It comes down to educating marketers about what’s possible in modern advertising, as well as fostering communication between internal teams. The days of rigid separation between branding and DR marketing need to end, in favour of a new approach. Even with separate teams who have different areas of expertise, it’s possible for marketers to plan and successfully implement an efficient always-on, full funnel campaign, as long as those teams remain coordinated.

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