Consumers care. They’re loyal. They expect a lot from their favourite brands. These things ring true not only for the product or the service that they’re buying, but also across every brand touchpoint – from the moment they see an advert online all the way to the moment at which they complete the purchase. This is why the advert itself is so crucial to the equation – a loyal consumer will want to see content that excites them, piques their interest and captures exactly why they fell in love with the brand in the first place.

Yet through a cloud of data and layers of technology, the ability to deliver creative and engaging online content is becoming increasingly difficult for marketers globally. But as we take our first steps into 2019, we must commit to changing this status quo. With AI-powered adtech solutions only growing in sophistication, marketers must look to the tech for the powerful data insights that they need to produce truly creative advertising and keep their loyal customers just that: loyal.

Data killed the creative star…or did it?

 Alarmingly, in a study of more than 500 brand marketers from across the US and Europe, 67% of people pointed to the growth in digital advertising as a key reason for the waning creativity from brands and agencies. And this makes sense. As marketers have struggled to come to terms with the rising complexity of the digital landscape, the need to place an ad in front of the right person, at the right time and in the right place has outweighed the need (and the budget) for the content that they’re actually delivering. In fact, 71% of marketers said they find it difficult to achieve ad reach in the face of fragmenting audiences. And with 62% of marketers stating they feel the media landscape has become too complex, it’s no wonder that we’ve started to lay the blame at the feet of digital media; especially as it continues to become more segmented year on year.

Technology isn’t the enemy, it’s the hero of the story 

The challenges we’re facing thanks to evolving technology are multifaceted. On one hand, every marketer understands the importance of data analytics and personalisation, yet they’ve also become well-acquainted with the headaches that come with data access (hint: the GDPR and the impending ePrivacy Regulation). Yet while it may seem that technology is at the heart of these issues, one well-known, much-talked-about solution holds the key: AI. Yes, it’s the biggest buzzword out there but for good reason.

Not only does AI deliver a way to analyse and apply data at scale, it also gives marketers a secret weapon when it comes to creativity. The technology can help agencies understand the exact components of an ad that will determine the success or failure of a campaign. From the right colours, images, words or specific product promotions, AI gives creative teams a chance to dive into the minds of consumers, to see what creative content resonates and why. And to take it a step further, AI can analyse all the components of an ad and make small variations almost in real-time.

This means advertisers are able to tweak campaigns to suit an individual consumer’s preferences to a tee – whether that’s serving Jack an ad for his favourite brand of golf clubs set against an image of the Scottish Highlands rather than the sands of the Caribbean; or showing Jill an ad for the latest Audi convertible in racing green as opposed to canary yellow. AI can help uncover these idiosyncrasies that make each of your consumers unique, so you can ensure ads are delivering the content that will inspire people to purchase. 

The road ahead

Moving into 2019, the narrative will only become more focused on the need to prioritise performance-driven creative. Further pressure will fall on marketers to create the adverts that capture consumers’ hearts and minds, while delivering the sales and profits that brands need to survive. In fact, the overwhelming majority (91%) of marketers acknowledge that their digital ads must be more engaging, so they can achieve their brand’s goals. So, while the rise in digital marketing may have brought with it more complexity, more technology and more data, it has also given marketers more opportunities to fine-tune creative content and deliver the perfect campaign to the perfect audience. By combining data, creative and media together and building a foundation that is driven by AI, brands will become more empowered to build campaigns that meet their business goals.