Why Has Digital Creativity Flatlined?

McDonalds


 

In the past 15 years we’ve seen a massive, unparalleled shift in the advertising industry. Not only have we completely revolutionized the media buying process, but we’ve overhauled the ‘agency culture’ that dominated for over half a century. The ad tech boom continues to balloon, and we’ve made leaps and bounds towards better data management. Optimization is king in an advertising ecosystem where every consumer is just a few click away. But amidst this shift, quantifiable copy has begun to trump the single most important element that’s historically driven campaigns— creativity.

The Quantification Shift

Today’s advertising landscape looks nothing like the Mad Men culture that continues to dominate public perception of the industry. As Sir Martin put it, “Don Draper wouldn’t recognize 75% of what we do.” Where the ‘Draper Era’ agency focused on creative engagement, today’s end goal is always optimization. In 2015, digital spend surpassed television for the first time, and 2016 digital ad revenues reached a staggering $16 Billion for Q1 alone. And as ad tech continues to consolidate through M&A, the data/targeting relationship is becoming stronger than ever. But this optimization evolution can be a double-edged sword. Creativity is increasingly becoming an afterthought, especially in more data-dependent spaces like b2b.

 

AD-versity Is Stronger Than Ever

26% of Facebook users block ads. Infographic via Wall Street Journal

26% of Facebook users block ads. Infographic via Wall Street Journal

Optimization cannot drive engagement alone. In fact, it can actually destroy it. A recent Harris Interactive Poll found 74% of Millennials object to over-targeting by brands via social media.  Even worse, 56% of those surveyed have either cut back, or stopped using social media outlets all together due to advertisements. When we take this into account, the ever-increasing reach of ad blocking should be much more alarming. Just this week, it was announced that over a third of ALL digital page views are now impacted by ad blocking. That’s staggering!

The problem is so significant that Facebook alone reports over 26% of its user base use ad blocking. The company recently announced their intention to circumvent ad blocking on their desktop platform.

What Value Do We Assign Creative?

Overcoming ad blocking will require a shift in the way we approach content creation. In a column for Marketing Land, Rob Rasko asks the question, “What’s the ROI on creativity?” We could easily assume this question has an answer, but the reality is that our industry has left creative ROI vague and undefined. Rasko believes fewer, large-scale ads that are creative-centric will deliver the solution. This could easily be applied to content marketing, as creative strategy is much more inherent to campaign success. Ad tech solutions should seek to partner with entities focused on building unique, engaging content. In the mean time, what can the creative side bring to the table? Streamlining measurement tactics that directly link creative to engagement could be a start.

This is not to say Digital lacks any standout creative teams. There are some amazing agencies that have used the power of optimization and contextual targeting to create show-stopping consumer experiences. Unfortunately, they only capture a very small minority of digital spend. Which is why it’s important to remember that a marriage between data and creativity will forge rock solid pipelines for brand engagement. It’s just a matter of time before the industry wakes up and recognizes this necessity.

 

Learn more about how Duplici works with b2b brands to build creative, engaging content. Contact us today

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