Media Optimization Has Trumped Creative Optimization
It seems we've taken a step backwards when it comes to online creativity. Not so much in terms of its excellence, rather its importance as a factor in online marketing. Certainly technology has made possible a vast array of online advertising units which provide advertisers and publishers the ability to tailor programs to marketers' needs. But what happened to taking advantage of online media's flexibility as it relates to creativity?
In the early days of online advertising it was common to see marketers launch every campaign with 10 or more versions of a creative unit. Marketers would run them all, take a look at which ones performed and which one's didn't, then adjust accordingly.
After all, that was and is the beauty of the medium's fluidity. There is no closing date. No material due date. No finite printed piece that, once published, can never be changed. Everything can be changed (and should on a constant basis) to attain whatever goals have been established at outset.
So it is baffling to see so many marketers launch online campaigns with a single piece of creative, then complain about campaign performance without considering the importance of dynamic creativity. If the current creative sucks, it should be swapped out for something that works. Online publishers know exactly what we're talking about.
Perhaps the argument against multiple creative units is cost. Today, most banners are far more complicated and complex than the simple animated gifs that that were prevalent back in the day. Now we've got an endless selection of technologies, many of which are so-resource intensive that creating multiple versions of the creative just isn't in the budget. But more likely, it's due to laziness.
Some argue online advertising, in some respects, is similar to direct marketing. Well we all know direct marketers never, ever, ever stop until they find something that works. Never. They just keep sending shit until something clicks.
Just look at all the credit card offers you get. Each one is ever so slightly different than the one which arrived the day before. The terms might be different. The envelope might be a different color. The form letter inside might be worded differently. They want your money and they won't stop trying until they get it.
Now, it makes perfect sense to change an online campaign if it isn't working. But the media shouldn't be the only factor in the equation. Creativity plays a huge role, though its importance seems to have been trumped by the onslaught of endless technological wizardry used for the purposes of optimizing online campaigns. Well, creative can be optimized too. Sadly, in a technologically-driven medium, the creative element sometimes gets a bum deal.
Is it time to go back to basics? Should the cheaply-created animated gif be given the spotlight again? Should creatives rally for the same influence media has over the direction of a campaign? Should creative optimization be granted as much importance as media optimization? Your thoughts are welcome.