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The Five Most Common Creative Oversights in Programmatic Advertising, as Observed by a Non-Creative

January 12, 2016 by Aimee

While data is the fuel for great programmatic advertising, laser-focused targeting and budget optimization can only do so much. Creative plays a critically important role in attracting and engaging audiences.

While we’re not design school graduates here at MediaCrossing (not all of us, anyway!), we have learned a great deal about creative best practices over the years. While some of these recommendations may seem incredibly obvious to more seasoned advertisers, you’d be amazed by how frequently they’re overlooked, even by some of the smartest brands and marketers. So, without further ado, here are our tips:

  1. Include a call to action. We’re starting with the most obvious first here. Every ad should have a call to action (CTA), whether it’s “Download the Whitepaper” or “Buy Now.” Your call to action is more than a hardcore sales tactic. It’s not pushy or rude - it actually provides a better user experience. By giving your audience a clear CTA, you’re giving them direction, you’re letting them know how they can engage with your brand or take advantage of your offer. And it gives your ad a purpose --  a raison d’etre, if you will.
  2. Make sure your ad is readable. Another obvious one, and yet, so often clarity takes a back seat to aesthetics. There are a few distinct issues we see with respect to readability:
    • ALL CAPITALS! Sure, caps make a statement, but they really are hard to read. The shape of a word in lowercase is much easier for the eye to discern. Ads can be scanned much more easily if they’re in title or sentence case.
    • Teeny-tiny fonts. You may have a lot to say, but if saying a lot means reducing your copy to 8-point fonts, brevity - and larger fonts - may be the smarter option. Save your benefit statements for the landing experience.
    • Fancy typefaces. Everyone loves a pretty ad, but don’t sacrifice your readability for a curly-cue font. If no one can read your ad, no one is likely to respond to it.
    • Reverse text. White or super-bright fonts against a dark background can look really cool, but the contrast may be hard on the eyes for some. When combined with all-caps, fancy or tiny fonts, reverse text can be a clarity killer.
  3. Running video? Be sure to identify your product or brand in the first three seconds. YouTube gives advertisers less than five seconds of mandatory viewing time in a pre-roll ad - and that’s all the time you have to convince viewers that your ad is worth watching for another 10 seconds. And yet, we’re constantly surprised by how many advertisers let those three seconds slip past without so much as a logo. Don’t make the same mistake. Put your most compelling content - and your logo! - right at the top of your video ad.
  4. Let your data guide the creative. (Yes, we’re talking about data again, because we love data.) In the past, we left the creative decisions to the Don Draper types. But today, we have data to tell us exactly who our audiences are, what they like and what drives their purchase decisions. By analyzing that data, we can draft a creative roadmap that will guide us to our buyers. We can learn simple but important facts that can guide every aspect of our creative, whether it’s that the audience is women aged 18-24, that they read the Twilight books, that  they love country music, that they have a taste for muscle cars and WWE, or that they prefer to shop at Walmart. Any or all of those factors could and should influence the creative process.
  5. Test, optimize and test again. Never assume that your creative is perfect. Let your audiences decide what needs to change by testing. Test different images, different calls to action, even Title Case versus Sentence case. The smallest changes can often have tremendous impact, so test every element you can. If an A/B test is all that fits in your budget, do it. Take every opportunity you can to learn what resonates with you audience, because that’s how you’ll develop increasingly successful ads.

Programmatic may make advertising more efficient, but if your ad creative falls flat, no amount of data or automation is going to help it. Start your campaigns off on the right foot by following these creative best practices and developing the best possible ad.

Want more tips? Contact us to learn how we can help! 

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Filed Under: creative, Blog, optimization, programmatic advertising, programmatic meda

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