Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dynamic Creative Doesn't Require Decisions

One of the things that annoys me with dynamic creative is when the first conversation about deploying is around 'decision trees'. If this is the first conversation about dynamic creative, it's usually a sign dynamic creative isn't fully understood and that there's going to be a fun conversation around what we are using dynamic creative for.

Decision trees are an amazing tool that Flashtalking popularised.
The tree shows a nice clean process where certain rules trigger certain changes to the creative. These changes aggregate up to a wonderful world where the creative will appear to respond according to things we know about people or know about the page the person is on.
To be clear, I think this is a wonderful tool and a massive step above the excel sheet driven approach of most of their competitors. My problem with it is that it conflates these decisions with the creative. Therefore we often see these decision points leading the creative process, leading to the horrible messes we often see within product ads (more on those later).
The idea of having creative that is dynamic doesn't require rules to be defined - creative can change themselves based on nothing at all (and often are changing at random).

Decision Twigs

Since the majority of creatives actually only need one decision or rule, I suspect there are a large number of twigs out there. This should be normal - most of our audience aren't paying much attention to our advertising and we shouldn't need to be deploying huge levels of creative complexity.

A single decision can mask a huge number of creatives

Imagine a decision based on the title of the page the ad is deployed on. The creative could show an Italian picture and some Italian copy based on words within the title. If the title contains France, the pictures and copy could be altered. This could continue into many other countries.
This single decision could be extended out into dozens of individual creative combinations. These will take time to input into Flashtalking's decision tree or another adserver's excel file but will only really involve a single decision from the adserver.
The actual achievement here is that Flashtalking have managed to sell a trafficking technique so well that creative agencies are selling on their behalf. The problem is that the creative agency then obsesses over how to make these trees look more complicated so they can feel that the dynamic setup looks 'clever'.

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