How Your Brand Can Leverage Automation

By Deborah Folloni


Creative automation unlocks scale and flexibility for brands that need a variety of different creative variations — or need to easily change different elements within creative assets. A fashion retailer could have thousands of products that they want to show to different audiences. Travel companies need to update destinations and promotions across various locations.

With digital now driving the customer experience, creative teams are having difficulty keeping up with the sheer volume of creative assets. Creative automation has traditionally been one way that creative teams have tried to keep up with this demand, by building a template that can pull in the most up-to-date images and text to create efficiency for the team and more relevance for audiences.

However, many brands are not getting the most from creative automation, which is typically used at the very end of the creative and media planning process. At the same time, it is heavily relied upon for performance-based campaigns when it can be valuable for much more.

Too often, creative automation delivers a generic, disjointed advertisement that has little to do with an advertiser's actual brand guidelines and is overly focused on conversion. Brands are missing the opportunity to use creative automation as a highly personalized extension of a brand's larger relationship with their audience.

Creative Automation Is Moving Up the Funnel

Many advertisers think of creative automation as a "bottom of the funnel" approach. It became popular for conversion-oriented campaigns - retargeting audiences who abandoned a shopping cart, searched for a product or clicked on an ad. Today, people are aware of this tactic, and are more likely to ignore advertisements than ever before. Simply putting the right product in front of someone isn't enough. The entire creative needs to work as a cohesive whole.

What's more, creative automation can provide scale for a variety of different advertising strategies, not just performance-based marketing. Brands can create much more relevant experiences for audiences when they tailor the content, including more differentiated brand creatives for the top of the funnel.

Upgrade Your Approach

Creative automation can be used to up-level the brand experience to every product and to improve click-through and conversion. To experience these benefits, it's important to make sure decisions roll up to clear goals throughout the entire process and includes ongoing measurement.

Ensuring that intelligence is built in is key to building great content and creative to feed the template, and to an interactive design process that improves the overall creative (and performance) over time. There are some foundational actions that teams can take today to make sure that they are getting the best return on investment.

  • Get your product catalog ready: Retailers, real estate agents, and other advertisers with a high volume of different offerings often have a complete product catalog ready to go. Having structured data to feed the dynamic ad is critical to success and scale. This includes images and descriptions to match every potential creative. Many other advertisers, such as CPG, don't have this because they're not selling directly to consumers. Not only is it a must for scaling up creative automation, but it can also be optimized with top quality images and great text.
  • Consider your platforms: Not every platform has the same formatting. Using a branded template that's designed specifically for each platform will dramatically improve the look and feel (and performance). For example, for Instagram reels, is your template built to fit the reels format, or is it a repurposed TV ad that is squeezed to fit?
  • Test your templates: A finished template is not the end of the creative process. Create different designs and test them. One template might feature sales prices while another might have larger spaces devoted to product images; see what works where. One might work great for one platform while another works better on another platform.
  • Commit to quality: So often once a dynamic template is created, it's sent out into the world and forgotten about while other brand campaigns and brand updates happen around it. Make sure that your dynamic ads are part of your brand guidelines and feel relevant compared to other advertising activity to create a cohesive experience.

Create a Feedback Loop

When creative automation becomes part of the end-to-end creative process, it can actually provide new insights back to creative teams. Make sure to share results with them. Knowing which templates and variable data work on each platform can help inform new campaigns that will perform even better in the future.

The media team can also create split testing scenarios, where the text and images in a product catalog is broken into groups to test at a more granular level. For example, testing images of products worn on a model versus standalone images.

Creative automation unlocks scale, but the approach needs to be used intelligently to make it work harder. Creative is a major part of campaign performance, and with a bit of effort, creative automation can deliver big results.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Deborah Folloni is the director of product marketing at VidMob.