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Christianne Wahl 

Planners & creators must reconcile ahead of Christmas campaigns

Planners & creators must reconcile ahead of Christmas campaigns

All Christianne Wahl from VidMob wants for Christmas this year is for creative and media to unite in time for the festivities

This years Christmas shopping season will be critical for brands as they strive to make up lost ground following a tumultuous few months.

If marketers do just one thing to make their Christmas campaigns work harder and drive ROI at this crucial time, it should be to bring their digital creative and media teams out of their silos and unite them to foster a game-changing collaborative relationship.

Make the most of seasonal buoyancy

Although many brands are having a tough time, Christmas is far from cancelled. Instead, it offers a much needed beacon of hope.

Consumers are planning to make Christmas extra special this year, with three-quarters of 18-34-year-olds believing seasonal festivities are more important than ever. Despite some economic uncertainty, almost 60% of UK adults arent planning to reduce their Christmas spending, and 16% intend to spend more than usual, so brands must make the most of this seasonal buoyancy.

Yet with consumer behaviour and needs irreversibly disrupted by the pandemic, brands wont be able to rely on the same tactics and messaging they usually depend on at this time of year.

According to Facebook research into changing consumer behaviour, shoppers are embracing a new value equation of affordability, authenticity and action that puts equal emphasis on price, quality and support for causes they care about, when selecting a brand or product.

The research indicates consumers may be more sensitive to price than before, but also more receptive to new products and services. There is an increase in online and mobile shopping, especially among older generations, and shoppers are more likely to consider self-gifting to reward themselves at this difficult time.

With the COVID-19 situation and associated restrictions constantly changing, and consumer behaviours rapidly evolving in unpredictable directions, brands dont just need their festive ad creatives to perform, they need them to adapt to continually shifting needs.

They must be able to determine what is working, and what is not, and optimise creative mid-flight. This is highly problematic in a world where creative and media operate separately.

Bridge the great media creative divide

The current model is broken, with creative and media working as separate operating units. Often theyre part of different companies, located in different premises and using different systems, with little to no collaboration between the two.

The creative side produces a beautiful suite of ads and passes them over to the media team as a finished product before moving onto the next brief and rarely looking back. After all, their work is done. 

But this makes no sense, creative is the primary driver of ad performance, and has a far greater influence on ad effectiveness than reach, targeting, recency or context. In fact Google asserts media only accounts for around 30% of the success of brand campaigns, with the other 70% driven by creative.

To ensure campaigns resonate and perform this Christmas, brands need to break down these silos and encourage a more collaborative approach.

Creative and media are distinct disciplines with diverse mindsets, but they should both be working towards the same brand goals.

Rather than the creative teams role being over once the initial ads are produced, they need to receive insight back from the media team so they can adapt and optimise their work, continually improving performance.

There are two key elements needed to make this collaborative approach to festive campaigns a reality; effective measurement of creative performance and unified technologies that streamline creative optimisation.

Measuring creative performance

Generating performance data used to be a slow process, meaning it was too late to optimise campaigns by the time insights were received. But today, data is instantaneous and actionable information begins streaming back within seconds of a new piece of creative launching on digital channels.

With the right measurement tools, performance insights can be viewed at a number of depths, from high-level brand insights that reveal the best performing creative elements across all platforms and placements, to deeper, more specific insights at the account and campaign levels.

AI-based technologies such as computer vision and machine learning can be used to identify and tag every detail in an ad creative, frame by frame, and cross the data set with performance stats to determine which creative elements move the needle, and by how much.

As well as understanding which elements generate attention, it is also possible to determine exactly when audiences stop watching and which elements cause them to lose interest.

Brands can compare ad creatives to see which work best for a variety of performance metrics, and can see how elements such as logos, copy, text treatment, objects, animals, people, emotions and even hair styles or facial expressions impact ad performance.

Using advanced measurement techniques, brands can understand the major creative drivers of performance, and also assess how these stack up against platform and industry norms.

All of this data can be fed back to creative teams to power effective optimisation, but brands must take care in selecting the right metrics to act on, optimising to those that have a causal impact on achieving their goals.

The possibilities for measurement are now so vast it is easy to get distracted by metrics that arent actually meaningful for maximising performance.

Connective creative technologies

While passing insights from the media team back to the creative team to optimise creative performance sounds great in theory, the process itself needs to be streamlined and workable. This is where unified technologies come into the equation.

Instead of using entirely different software systems as they currently do, creative and media teams need a connective creative technology platform that can tie creative and data together.

This type of system can enable creators and media planners to continue to do what they do best as long as it facilitates two key processes.

The first is the delivery of insights to the creative side to inform creative optimisation, and the second is the rapid and cost-effective transfer of revised, data-informed creative back to the media side.

Such a platform should join creative learning and production, enabling creators to quickly and effortlessly produce intelligent ads, learn about their performance in real-time and put that insight to work to improve campaigns mid-flight.

Unified technology is key in bringing media planners and creators together and can increase performance in the hundreds of percents.

With Christmas fast approaching, brands have a golden opportunity to capitalise on festive enthusiasm and regain some of the ground they lost earlier in the year. But success will require agile campaigns that can be instantly adapted to continually changing consumer behaviours and needs.

By reconciling digital creative teams and media planners, using the latest measurement techniques and unified creative technologies, brands can drive performance and ensure their festive campaigns deliver much needed ROI.

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