31 Oct 2016

Rediscovering Advertising in Real Time Advertising.

Being a parent can sometimes be hard. You walk home after a long day proudly holding your twin boys’ first“real” bicycles. After 5 long minutes instead of cries of joy, anticipation and gratitude you hear your two little devils say:

« Dad those bicycles are not fun,
they are not supposed to be games and they are so hard to master. »

First encounters are hard. It’s usually not fun to walk out of anything with scratched legs and bruised knees and still enjoy it. Learning to drive, as you pedal and you also try to keep balance is a small miracle in itself.

Well, if you haven’t guessed, I am that poor father and this is a real life event. Don’t ask me how and why but professional perversion has triggered some parallel thoughts on the status of Real Time Advertising. While the benefits of engaging with consumers in a personalised, context sensitive and real time communication manner are obvious we still seem to see only a minority of marketers getting it right.

« Gee, I thought, this is how advertisers should feel every time they are testing the waters with Real Time Advertising. It's like learning to ride a bicycle. Lots of things to master at once. »

This is also in line with the findings of the “Status of Programmatic Advertising in CEEMEA”, the annual research one of our companies, TailWind, does every year in parts of Europe and the Middle East. Complexity has been consistently one of the key issues for stakeholders since we started doing this.


It seems that our whole industry seems to be going through that same balancing act. We have a new shiny toy in advertising but there are only a few of us who seem to be having fun. We focus too much on the technicalities that we seem to lose the joy of the ride: creating good, impactful communication that speaks to consumers and adds value to our brands.

Having gone through this trip during the last 7-8 years myself I have ended up believing that there are 3 main conditions to reclaim advertising and start enjoying the ride again.

1. Discern the Relationship between Technology & Creativity: There is no better quote on this from what Sir John Hegarty of BBH once said:

« Technology creates the opportunity
but its creativity that creates value. »

2. Technology should become invisible: We need to “climb” the ad-technology learning curve so effectively that using technology is becoming invisible. We need to learn how to pedal, balance and drive unconsciously so that we focus on what’s important: human communication.

3. Creativity and craftsmanship are coming in many shapes and sizes. None being less important than the other. There are tons of creativity to be found in the data analysis and audience creation part, in the media buying strategy and optimization process, in the creation of new advertising formats (check our Project Agora's gallery for some of them), as well as in the creative strategic planning and the actual content creation function.

The CMO of 2020 should start scratching and bruising her knees with Real Time Advertising today. Once she has changed her mindset and has gone through the technicalities she will certainly enjoy the ride (and the results).

Check those 3 cases below for some CMOs who are already enjoying it and have seen great results from Real Time Advertising.

Unilever / Axe: Romeo Reboot: Online film changes to match viewer's interests. In August 2015, Axe debuted Romeo Reboot in Brazil, a short film that adapts to each online viewer’s interests (factoring music taste, previous purchases and more). There are a total of 100,000 variations of the advertisement that include changes to the music, the story and even the background, which can change from an office setting to a sci-fi one.

Red Roof Inn - Saving Stranded Travelers with Search: No one likes flight cancellations, and the last brutal winter saw up to 3 percent of U.S. flights being grounded daily—nearly 500 flights on average per day. As a result, thousands of travelers scrambled to find hotels at the last minute. Using mobile location targeting and customized messages, Red Roof Inn was able to beat its competitors and quickly reach customers. The custom media buying invention got the lodging chain's messaging in front of 75 percent of consumers searching for last-minute reservations.

Post-it - "The Banner That Makes You Like Banners": Retargeted banner ads are the sledgehammer of the Web, bashing you again and again with the same random product you looked at once, whether you like it or not.

But 3M figured it could use the retargeted banner's weakness as a strength. If the same banner comes up again and again, the company figured, why not make it a Post-it note where you could jot down info that might be useful later—when the ad pops up again?


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