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Creative Is Data Too

*This article was written for ANA Forward and originally published on the ANA website.

Marketers may be missing a wealth of data hidden inside each piece of advertising creative

Marketers have probably heard the phrase “own your data.” The natural tendency is to think this applies only to the stream of media, audience, conversion, and sales data coursing through the advertising fire hose. But marketers navigating the modern marketing landscape must also take ownership of the data behind all their brand creative.

A renaissance in advertising creative is unfolding in front of all eyes across all screens, and that is driving a need for marketers to maintain end-to-end control of every creative asset and the data relating to what, when, and by whom those assets are being used.

It’s a safe bet that the future will require more production than ever and that the importance of managing, leveraging, and tracking all of that output will be paramount. Certainly, it’s exciting to see the promise of data-driven dynamic creative optimization (DCO) getting closer to being a scalable reality. But building that reality will require data, some of which is right under every marketer’s nose, tucked inside each piece of ad creative.

This data can help marketers at each stage of the creative workflow — if they have a centralized way to organize, manage, and maintain control of their assets. Here’s a closer look at the layers of data available within a marketer’s ad assets, and how that data can help drive more effective marketing and better ROI while ensuring precise compliance with talent and rights.

Base-level Creative Data
Every unique ad amasses rich creative data as it moves from concept to deployment to storage. While not a comprehensive list, the types of data generated during each of the eight core functional workflow processes include the following:

  • From the production payroll workflow: Crew size, crew team, shoot locations, payroll details, time stats, and fringe costs
  • From the asset ingestion workflow: Uploader stamp; date and time stamp; quality control process results; watermarks and closed captioning; broadcast and video transcode data; media type, size, and length; metadata and keywords; and Ad-ID, ISCI, and other unique identifiers
  • From the talent and rights management workflow: Cast and session fee details, completion reports, usage costs and details, rights costs and details, guarantee agreements, and talent contracts
  • From the asset sharing workflow: Permission details, usage tracking, terms and conditions, reuse ROI tracking, reporting, and usage expiration data
  • From the traffic and clearance workflow: Linear TV instructions; video, OTT, and advanced TV details; network clearance; creative rotation data; first air-date reporting; and pull and destroy details
  • From the linear TV delivery workflow: Order and cost details, spot codes, delivery date and time, destination details, special instructions, and receiver affidavits
  • From the video, OTT, and advanced TV ad serving workflow: Publisher details, tag data, creative details, targeting data, and spend details
  • From the physical and digital storage workflow: Asset ID details, asset history data, location details, retrieval and usage reports, renewal and discard data, and cost tracking

The metadata accrued from each workflow gives the marketer a complete record of everything, from the production resources to how the asset was used and reused, by whom, and for what purpose.

Return Path Creative Performance Data
Increasingly, a brand’s creative assets move through IP-based paths (i.e., video, OTT, streaming), which means that wherever an ad plays, the process returns creative-specific metrics that give brands and their partners more exposure and performance data than ever before. By no means does this suggest that the art of brand storytelling should ever be programmatic, but it does mean that brands can examine more consumer behavior associated with a specific creative than ever before.

Return-path performance metrics reveal viewer response to and interaction with ads, including an overall breakdown of impressions by ad length, media type, and device; completion rate; average time spent; click-through rate; and general invalid-traffic filtered rate.

Marketers have always been focused on delivering the right message to the right consumer, but now DCO is actually possible through data-driven technology. Seamlessly coupling exposure data with brand assets is the foundational step toward realizing this goal.

Creative Effectiveness Data
While setting out to understand how a video ad spot emotionally resonates with a consumer may feel like the pursuit of something as elusive as the holy grail, the rise of the internet gives marketers new ways to rapidly test creative assets before they reach the market and to observe reactions and sentiment in the hours after a campaign launches.

While there will always be robust debate about how best to measure human response to a piece of creative, near real-time data around resonance can help brands navigate a complex storytelling landscape to attain key insights. That data can inform a new way to reuse creative elements to better resonate with various target audiences.

Own Your Creative Data Too
With marketers developing more creative for more use-cases than ever, centralizing assets will be key to managing that growing arsenal of creative content. A powerful byproduct of having those assets in a centralized workflow platform is that the data are amassed as part of the standard processes for launching campaigns. Having that data in-hand can make it easier for marketers to reuse assets more effectively, track the ROI on production costs, and stay in compliance with talent and rights contracts.

As marketers develop more sophisticated strategies for how to compile and use data to drive business results, the easiest piece to put in place right now is a means for managing and leveraging the data that exists behind the creative itself.

Owning this data set, spanning the spectrum from base-level metadata to performance metrics to emotional-resonance scores, will be increasingly critical for marketers and their partners as they forge new paradigms for brand storytelling and creative allocation across an increasingly multichannel marketing landscape.