3 Reasons Creative Technology is Disrupting the Advertising Structure

Picture your creative department. You are most likely imagining a group of artists hunched over drafting tables, pens in hand, or maybe peeking out from behind a row of Macs, clicking away on an Adobe program. We understand that creatives use technology in their work – but shouldn’t they design for it too?

Over the last decade, we’ve seen technology fundamentally change the set of tools we use to create ads – what they look like, where we place them and how people receive them. The landscape is unquestionably changing, and creative agencies need to adapt to meet the new, higher expectations that clients place on them. In order to meet these challenges head on, our firm recently reorganized our engineering and creative teams into one cohesive ‘creative technology’ department. This allows our creatives to think about campaigns holistically; everything from aesthetics to user experience to functionality should be deliberately considered and designed by the people with an eye for it. Here are three reasons why every agency should think about technology creatively:

1. Advertising is becoming digital, fast

Think about this – mobile accounts for about 12 percent of ad budgets, despite Americans spending a quarter of their time on their phones. As tradition shifts toward profit, creative agencies will need to commit more resources and talent to creating for mobile platforms.

Consider that clients now expect programmatic buying options and automated marketing campaigns. We understand that our planning and lead nurturing get the best results when we utilize the newest digital tools and best online practices. But our creative departments have not yet caught up; many still operate within the classic model (Creatives design. Engineers integrate.) As agencies, we have to look beyond the horizon and predict not only where our audiences will be tomorrow, but also where they will be in five years, and set up our own creative shops to be successful in the digital space.

Part of that challenge is embracing a ‘digital first’ strategy. Clients are often hesitant to put all of their eggs in the metaphorical Twitter nest, but it’s part of our responsibility as brand stewards to know our audiences and how to reach them. The biggest consulting and IT companies understand the digital transformation that’s occurring and have invested heavily in that future. 

2. Brands are investing in new technology 

The giants in our field understand where we will be reaching future audiences. About a month ago, Time Warner announced it would spend $100 million on Snapchat content over the next two years. Virtual and augmented reality generated $3.9 billion in 2016, with some projections putting that number at $162 billion by 2020. At this year’s CES, Amazon’s Alexa was touted as the operating system for the Internet of Things.

3. Digital is trackable

You know the old saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Clients want quantifiable results. From the business perspective, CMOs increasingly value data-driven decision-making. As advertisers, we feel pressure to push the boundaries of traditional creative work to deliver innovative content across a breadth of new channels and also prove a return.

David Ogilvy would be amazed at how far our industry has come. Pixels, cookies and the power of retargeting is fully realized in digital ads. We no longer have to worry about guessing who we’re serving, which makes optimization easier and conversions quantifiable.

Technology has made the world smaller, but it’s also blurred the lines between agency responsibilities. If we want our firms to continue to be successful, we need to allow our creative departments to be involved throughout the process. We need to invest in creative technology.

Kyle Shivers

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