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What is Creative Automation?

Today’s complex digital marketing landscape calls for the production of a lot of assets, used in different aspect ratios, on different platforms, in different languages, with different images and products, and many other variations. Consequently, creative teams are under a lot of pressure to create, adapt and translate more and more creatives in less and less time.

Most creative leaders tackle this issue by simply growing their headcount or outsourcing the content production to external agencies. However, not only is this strategy not sustainable or scalable, but it also ends up being extremely costly and often difficult to manage. Creative teams are meant to focus on designing, editing and animating their craft, rather than being consumed by avoidable repetitive tasks. Automated processes can help with that.

This article aims to shed some light on a lesser known solution: Creative Automation.

What is Creative Automation?

How do your designers react when you tell them that the brand new video ad they just finished creating needs to be made into 50 other versions?

“Hey, can you update the banner with our new logo?”

“May I have this image re-made for our X, Y and Z markets?”

“Change the price and Call to Action in this video. 12 times.” 

They may not show their dismay, but they’re likely dying inside. 

Creative Automation can offer respite from this. Creative Automation is the creative production process of leveraging technology to scale your creative asset production by automatically adapting and changing certain aspects of your banner or video content. For example, the size, format, CTAs, and graphic elements, which enables high volume content creation for high volume demand. By relying on the use of dynamic creatives, Creative Automation allows you to reach the creative production goals you are aiming for by taking repetitive work out of the equation.

Without Creative Automation, you would need to manually create each digital asset to ensure high quality and brand consistency. And that’s leaving aside the rendering process, which forces your designers to step away from their computer while it’s locked into rendering out the videos. This is a time-consuming and tedious process for your most important resource, your creative minds. The creative professionals who did not imagine that to create content at scale would consist of so many repetitive tasks.

“In our marketing team, we are producing content daily. Sometimes, we spot some trends and ideas that work in all of our games. With Creative Automation, we can use these ideas and put them into the Storyteq platform to save time, be more efficient, and deploy a large number of videos in less than an hour.”

Sébastien Noiret, Marketing Artist at Voodoo

What drives Creative Automation and what problem does it solve?
> Most creative leaders tackle the issue of a growing need for creative assets by simply adding to their headcount or outsourcing the production.

> There is a more affordable solution for this in Creative Automation. It allows you to reach the creative production goals you are aiming for by taking repetitive work out of the equation.

> Creative Automation leverages the power of templates in order to automate the process of outputting a large amount of “versions” of the same base ad.

How does Creative Automation work?

There’s still a considerable lack of awareness surrounding the process. It involves transforming your creatives into templates, and the process is usually as follows:

1 – Create a strong digital creative asset that serves as your base creative or master template.

2 – Tailor your creative into custom, reusable templates with dynamic elements.

3 – Select dynamic elements, such as text, images, complete scene, etc. and link your data (product feed, spreadsheets, or manually) to each variable element.

4 – Generate all the versions you need in just a couple of minutes.

5- Share them with your customer, add them to your channels, or use them for split-testing.

That is what we call Creative Automation. By linking data sheets to variable elements within their templates, creative teams can output all the versions they need in one go, without reopening After Effects or rendering out the assets from their desktop computers.

Benefits of Creative Automation

Through Creative Automation, companies are 4x more likely to see improvements in their creative asset post-production processes. But how exactly? 

There’s more to it than removing or automating non-essential steps from our daily workflows. In this section, we’ll share what it means for your creative content in practice. Creative Automation is a necessity for any creative or marketing team hoping to keep a competitive edge because it helps:

Modernize your workflows

Centralizing the creative production through a Creative Automation platform helps companies bring everything under one roof. Creatives can be rapidly commented on, reviewed and reiterated, thus keeping control of creatives and eliminating the need for sending emails back and forth. To top that off, keeping the list of creatives and their respective iterations on one single page helps the editors keep track of all versions they produce. 

As every brand has a limited number of employee hours available, workflow automation takes redundant tasks off your team members’ to-do lists, they can fill those hours with higher level work. The result is better productivity for your team and a quicker time to market.

“When I think about post-production efficiency, I definitely think about Storyteq. It helps us deliver more value to our clients by keeping them away from the studio and offering multiple relevant content for all their requirements upfront.”

Thom Specht, Digital Producer at Boomerang

Brand consistency: Humans do it better

A key ingredient in building a successful brand is the ability to be consistent. Brand consistency can generate a 33% higher increase in overall growth, an evident reason for making sure you have the platforms you need to succeed with your process.

For many creative teams, branding compliance is just an extra bottleneck in the constant battle to get a marketing campaign launched on time. But in today’s digital environment, branding compliance has moved beyond just trademark attribution and copyright designations.

Creative Automation allows your teams or clients all across the globe to output the versions they need using your universal guidelines, without the constant need to keep teams accountable for their deliverables.

Personalize your content with own branded media

With more privacy laws in place, personalization and individualization will be more difficult to achieve. However, it won’t be an impossible task. 

As we enter a cookieless era, instead of “profiling” their audiences, large advertisers will have to reconnect with their customers and shift their focus towards strategies such as contextual advertising. Brands are going to rely on owned data to fine-tune multi-language campaigns or geo-location targeting for better engagement.

Focus on the premium quality of your creative itself: even this small shift towards how you conceptualize and craft the ads you deliver will improve results a lot faster than trying to replace what’s lost due to cookies.

Optimize your creatives to gain valuable insights

The only way to find out is by testing. All ad strategies and underlying processes should be focused on agility, flexibility, and having the ability to adapt to changing circumstances fast.

A more personalized ad experience brings you closer to your audience. And with improved segmentation comes the ability to deliver a more personalized experience. If you know where your audience is in the funnel then you can serve them with the ad that is best suited to their stage and their preferences.

“Storyteq is ideal for us to perform A/B testing. We can change a lot of dynamic elements in the templates and try what works best in our target audiences. This can be copy, color usage, models, etc. Using Storyteq makes it very cost- efficient because we can easily create these banners ourselves.”

Marc Poelsma, Online Marketer at Allianz Direct

Enable distributed collaboration at scale

What does it mean to be connected in a time when teams and platforms are more distributed than ever? 

Today, enterprise knowledge workers switch between an average of 10 apps 25 times per day to execute work, resulting in unconnected communication, reduced efficiency, and duplicative work. This results in challenges to team alignment. 

When marketing teams embrace Creative Automation, it means there are systems in place, from who does what and when to what platforms are used for which tasks, to help everyone stay aligned, organized, and productive.

Key takeaways

  • Manual versioning is not scalable or sustainable.
  • As we enter a cookieless era, instead of “profiling” their audiences, large advertisers will have to reconnect with their customers and shift their focus towards strategies such as contextual advertising.
  • Centralizing the creative production through a Creative Automation solution helps companies bring all their creatives under one roof. This is particularly helpful for brands who are used to working with remote agencies, as creatives can be rapidly commented on, reviewed and reiterated, thus eliminating the need for sending emails back and forth.

Wrapping up

Customer behavior has changed drastically due to shorter attention spans and a competitive multiformat omni-channel advertising space. This requires more customized and localized content to capture their attention. As your creative production requirements increase, the processes should evolve with them.

Soon enough, many advertisers will start to see how essential a part Creative Automation will play in the future of content, as they will realize that manual versioning is not scalable, whether or not the process is outsourced. This will be especially relevant to the brands who care about both the storytelling conveyed by their ads and their performance. Creative Automation is no longer optional.

New contexts require new approaches and it’s those who embrace Creative Automation who will gain an innovative edge and stay ahead. So, don’t wait for our solution to see a surge in price two years from now, and get a head start today. 

Jul 24, 2020
Guillaume Fernandez
Marketing Manager at Storyteq

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