Is the constant drumbeat from ad technology firms overshadowing the importance of creativity?
For those of us left in the advertising business, it seems that every message we receive has something to do with ad technology and its unlimited possibilities for making advertising more effective.
We, as agency creatives (if that is still even a relevant term), are overwhelmed with digital platforms. From programmatic media buying, to optimization, to first and third person data, it appears that ad technology has become the means to the end.
As practitioners of a creative craft, what are we trying to accomplish? Once, our primary job was to inform and entice people to purchase our client’s products and services. This usually required the talents of humans that could string together words, pictures, thoughts and emotions into a memorable experience executed across different mediums.
To accomplish this, a deep understanding of human psychology, communication and interaction was required, intertwined with a point of view. The message could be perceived as funny, clever, sarcastic, and informative, a hard sell, or any one of hundreds of different tones and styles of human communication.
Ad technology is nothing more than a delivery mechanism
Ad technology providers would lead you to believe that the message is secondary to the channel from which it is delivered.
With all the streaming bits and bytes of data swirling around our sensory receptors, it is no wonder that the “human” part of us has learned in a relatively short time to tune out internet advertising.
The reason for this is that the message has been compromised by the delivery mechanism.
The religion of ad technology practiced by the providers of ad networks, mobile apps, and behavioral retargeting wants us to believe that the scripture of analytics trumps creativity and with enough retargeting, our resistance will ebb and we will succumb to the purchase of a product we don’t want or need.
The reality is that we have already learned to block out such annoyances that appear on our screens as we read the opinion page of the New York Times or catch up the on final quarter of the game we slept through last night.
John Wanamaker in 1898 was correct that half of the money spent on advertising is wasted. The trouble is knowing which half. I’d make the case that this still holds true today, considering half of digital advertising cascading across the internet is never seen by a human being.
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