Kelsey Meuse
Kelsey Meuse 31 July 2017

Why no vertical is immune to the benefits of DCO

If marketers and consumers agree on one thing, it’s that personalisation is now an essential part of the online experience. But despite the availability of enabling technologies, verticals that have a limited ecommerce or digital presence – such as finance, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods (CPG) – seem hesitant to apply that truth to their digital ad creative.

Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) combines data-driven decisioning, rapid-scale creative production and machine learning to serve personalised messaging that consistently maximises campaign performance. Its use is moving beyond display to include channels such as in-stream video and native, and it allows marketers to achieve relevance at massive scale, while reducing wasted impressions. 

Yet despite verticals such as retail, travel and automotive making good use of this technology, uptake of dynamic creative in other sectors remains slow. Marketers  use the huge volumes of high quality data they have available to deliver programmatic advertising to specific audience segments, but by failing to also adapt their creative to those audiences, targeted media will never truly fulfil its potential.

So what is making certain verticals think twice about DCO and are these obstacles surmountable?

The misconception of complexity

One of the key things holding back the adoption of large-scale creative personalisation is the misguided perception that it’s too complex to explore. Concerns centre on creative assets, and the belief they will need to be custom built, costing time and money, and requiring outside expertise to be brought in.

But today’s cost-effective DCO tools mean the technology can be quickly and simply deployed for just about any campaign, regardless of size or vertical. Marketers can make use of flexible templates with standardised dynamic elements such as background images, features and benefits, prices, calls to action, and messaging. They can upload reusable assets, which can be automatically combined to build virtually unlimited creative variations. Established targeting strategies can be used to quickly and easily create custom audiences, with assigned creative variations.

DCO can be as basic or as complicated as the resources available allow. Marketers can determine which creative elements are dynamic and how many variations there are for each element, according to the investment they want to make. The simplicity and flexibility of DCO tools makes testing and optimising creative variations easy and cost-effective.

Understanding how DCO works for specific verticals

DCO is an effective strategy for any business that wants to deliver personalised, relevant messaging to consumers, but it’s not always clear how it works for specific verticals. Marketers don’t always understand the type of campaigns DCO can be used for, or how to include it in the creative process, which can also lead to hesitation in adoption.

Campaign types that can be executed using DCO include – but are not limited to – geo-targeted campaigns that adapt to user location, behavioural campaigns that vary by user interest, contextual campaigns that are dynamically tailored to page content, and product-based campaigns that take into account browsing history.

Let’s look more closely at how DCO can be applied to specific verticals:

Financial services: Within the finance sector, DCO can be used to automatically create multiple ad versions for different audiences, reducing production time and maximising conversions. For instance campaign creative promoting a new credit card could dynamically adapt to the interests and behaviour of the user, displaying travel, home, or entertainment related messaging depending what the user is most likely to use the credit card for. It could also feature different benefits such as loyalty points or low interest rates depending on the needs of the user.

DCO is a particularly effective tool for financial services providers and retail banks as it can adapt in real time to reflect continually fluctuating offers, rates and promotions, allowing campaigns to instantly respond to market changes. It also allows financial services with a large footprint of local agents, such as insurers, to run geo-targeted campaigns.

Pharmaceutical: Pharmaceutical marketers are understandably wary of new advertising technologies as they have a number of specific medical and legal obligations that must comply with their ad creatives. Ads are subject to a rigorous review process and they must meet in-depth guidelines around the copy, images, and calls to action, as well as providing vital safety information about their products.

But none of this precludes the use of DCO. Variables that change on a weekly or even daily basis can adapt dynamically, while other elements such as safety information can remain static. The variables that are used to create different versions of the ad can be reviewed in advance, allowing creative to adapt to the needs of the user in real time.

Consumer packaged goods: CPG companies often offer a wide range of products that can vary by geography, making this vertical ideal for DCO campaigns that adapt to locality. In addition CPG companies tend to create branded digital content, such as tips or recipes to keep users engaged. This content can be used in episodic creative that rotates through ‘tip of the week’ or ‘recipe of the month’ for example.

Audience targeting on its own is not enough to personalise the online experience, marketers must also adapt ad creative to their target audiences to make it relevant and engaging. Rather than fearing the complexity of DCO, or questioning its suitability, marketers across all verticals must focus on how best to implement this cost-efficient technology to achieve large-scale creative personalisation.     

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