The Drum | Privacy – The New Canvas For Creativity

Whether you are a right brain or left brain marketer, privacy can be the creative differentiator in a data-centric world. We caught up with Lucy Ferguson, who leads content and privacy in Google’s UK ads marketing team, to find out how.

They used to say creativity knows no bounds, but others would argue that boundaries are crucial for all kinds of creativity. Some of the best marketing art (creative) is fueled by the science (data) – and while marketers may at first perceive privacy to be a creative blocker, it’s actually the creative enhancer that every marketing leader needs in their palette.

With constraints come challenges, but with challenges come opportunities. In what is now a golden age of opportunities – spurred by an unlikely catalyst: third-party cookies – the bounds of creativity will be limited only by those who don’t have their data house in order first.

“Balancing the art and the science of marketing has long been a source of debate for marketing leaders – but it shouldn’t be an either or situation,” said Lucy Ferguson, who leads content and privacy in Google’s UK ads marketing team. “They work hand in hand and in today’s privacy-centric landscape, the more data marketers have at their fingertips – collected in a responsible way – the more they can use it to inform the copy that consumers see in ads, leaning into their interests to make it more relevant and effective.”

Creative intelligence is the differentiator

As ad man Bill Bernbach famously said, creativity is “the last unfair advantage” marketers are legally allowed to take over their competitors. In a privacy-centric world, it’s true that collecting consented first-party data allows you to understand your customers better – and those insights can be utilized to generate new ideas and ignite creativity.

Creative intelligence can be understood as the ability to customize creatives without using third-party data, and deliver ads using the latest technologies to reach the right audiences, with the right messages, at the right time. For marketers, that’s the holy grail to tell better stories and enhance the relevance with the person you are telling the story to. You only have to look at how businesses are using data as the fuel to create new products and services, and provide a more personalized experience.

But to be able to collect first-party data and gain that consent, marketers need to build trust with customers for them to want to share their data in the first place. By adopting privacy practices that are meaningful, memorable and manageable – particularly in combination – Google’s Privacy by Design research shows that putting people in control and ensuring they feel in control can boost trust and marketing effectiveness for brands.

“It’s like a continuous loop for creative effectiveness,” says Ferguson. “Consumers lean into ads that are relevant to them, which is driven by the first-party data they are willing to share with brands they trust. Automation unlocks those creative insights so that you are continually able to test, learn and iterate on creative copy, improving efficiency and effectiveness.”

Building a privacy-safe creative strategy

The value exchange of customer data means that marketers can better produce quality, relevant, engaging creative content and helpful targeted advertising. With all of this in mind, how can marketers ensure they land their creative message in a privacy-first world?

1. Craft customized creatives in real-time

Customizing ads based on contextual signals like date, time, weather, live results and traffic conditions can play a huge role in helping marketers to craft creatives that are relevant and non-intrusive. Adapt to this creative context by combining these signals with first-party data to segment audiences – or even introduce statistical models to refine the clustering of audiences and predict future behavior. Pick the right mix of signals to tell a customized story to your audience, leverage data and technology to engage with your audience in new ways.

2. Invest in creative, then automate

It’s easy to neglect creative in a marketing strategy geared towards media buying and ad tech, but balancing your marketing budget between creative investment along with automation means you can shuffle creative assets to deliver highly-relevant ads to potential customers – saving teams precious time and energy. As a first step, invest in creative, then automate the asset workflow to build and edit creatives easily, and at scale.

3. Test, learn and measure

In a privacy-first world, there are new standards to measure success. It’s key for teams to update creative workflows from a linear process to a continuous feedback loop, allowing for creative dynamic ad templates that allow for elements to be added and combined according to live signals, in real-time. This requires continuous, automated improvements to build customer insights through experimentation and testing – almost like a “dynamic content factory” – to provide actionable insights. By continuously optimizing creative elements, you are able to collect insights and best practices that will benefit your brand.

A continuous feedback loop for creativity

Creative marketing is only set to increase, alongside the use of smart automation, as the marketing world transitions to a new privacy-first future. “Privacy shouldn’t be seen as a blocker but an enhancer, giving marketers a creative canvas on which to paint to make privacy their creative differentiator in a data-centric world,” says Ferguson.

With creative intelligence comes a greater ability to measure performance of the creative and better understand how creative is working and be able to give you a clear picture of where and when you can turn on and off particular creative, giving marketers the knowledge to be able to determine where to invest and develop further, enabling more creativity.

Responsible marketing in a privacy-first world is no longer about the art or the science. The two work hand-in-hand. When privacy is considered as part of the creative palette, the canvas is set, leading to more innovation, creativity and success.

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