Marketers have a treasure trove of customer data that they can use to precisely target their digital ad campaigns. But the next degree of ad personalization is dynamic creative optimization, which allows for more effective customization of the ad experience. Greg Sobiech, founder and managing partner at digital consultancy Delve, spoke with eMarketer's Nicole Perrin about what's involved in dynamic creative optimization and the barriers in the way of fully executing it.
Sobiech was interviewed as part of the November 2018 report Dynamic Creative and Digital Storytelling.
The concept of dynamic creative optimization allows data to work harder and serve consumers better ads, but what's holding a lot of marketers back from executing it?
It’s difficult to do because it requires integration between your website data and your media data, which may live in silos. You may also have third-party data that you buy from companies like Experian or Acxiom, as well as your CRM [customer relationship management] data, which may come from call centers, website activity and so on.
Marketers love the idea of delivering more engaging, smart and relevant messaging, but they're not able to deliver on the idea just yet.
Are brands getting closer to making all of their data actionable?
Marketers love the idea of delivering more engaging, smart and relevant messaging, but they're not able to deliver on the idea just yet, especially larger brands. But regardless of size, some brands are agile and understand that it takes several months to define a data strategy. Others don't understand that it isn't just a switch you can flip.
That sounds like it's more of an organizational problem, but are there still technology problems, too?
Providers like Google are only recently creating technology that allows us to embrace the different aspects of creative. But now you have situations where users' data is being better protected—like with the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] and UserID now missing from DoubleClick. It's harder to identify users across devices. My whole data strategy goes to hell unless I work with vendors that have that cross-device user ID.
When we work with brands, we educate them on the data strategy and connecting everything together. It’s the foundation—you can’t see it in the ground, but without it, you can't build a castle that people will be dying to visit.
My whole data strategy goes to hell unless I work with vendors that have that cross-device user ID.
What's your advice for brands that are ready to tackle dynamic creative optimization?
There’s an ethical question. It's easy to piggyback on someone else’s machine learning algorithm. You don’t have to be a world-class data scientist to use machine learning—you just have to know how to apply the technologies to your tech stack. If that’s what’ll happen—and it will definitely happen—how do we ensure that marketers don’t forget about the humans they’re talking to? In an age of automation, how do we maintain our humanity?