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Take a Ride on the Creative (Workflow) Side

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

It looks seamless, but it’s a winding road from the edit suite to the screen

Thanks to technology and the proliferation of screens, devices, and content platforms, today’s marketers live in a world without borders. Advertisers have more avenues for reaching their audiences, and more formats for telling their stories, than ever before. Without skipping a beat, advertisers are quickly and effectively capitalizing on all the new opportunities the market presents.

To wit, since 2014, year-over-year video ad spend has been increasing by double digits as advertisers work to get their messages to audiences everywhere and anywhere. The results of that activity? More ads, in more shapes and sizes, and in more places.

The way great video creative gets spread everywhere in today’s evolving and increasingly fragmented media market might seem easy, but it’s highly complex from a workflow standpoint, and it’s getting more so by the day. In fact, when Extreme Reach took a deep dive into its customer database to get a by-the-numbers view of the proliferating workflow challenges resulting from the new advertising mandates, it opened more than a few eyes.

What is clear is the creative asset workflow — the steps, processes, and paths from the moment a master file is ready to when all assets are prepared and formatted for campaign launch — must be optimized for speed and efficiency.

It Takes More Than a Village
Marrying finished creative with today’s all-screen media plans takes an entire metropolis of teams to prepare the assets, set the flight plans, secure the rights for usage, and deliver the ads in the right format to every entity so that campaigns happen as planned.

Every single advertiser has a unique approach to its roster of trusted partners. Regardless of the complexion of that portfolio, there are many different functional teams that all play a vital role along the journey of readying assets for deployment.



Extreme Reach Sees Rise in Number of Teams Needing Access to a Brand’s Creative Assets to Launch Campaigns

The average size of an advertiser’s partner portfolio is 35 external teams, going as high as 153 for larger companies


note: This is an analysis of 200 Extreme Reach customers over the first three quarters of 2018.
source: 2018 Extreme Reach internal data


When Extreme Reach looked across a 200-plus sample of customer portfolios, it found that the average marketer today supports six brands with advertising and taps 10 creative agencies, eight media teams, and 17 post-production houses to source, manage, and deploy ad creative. The number of teams balloons to more than 150 for companies with roughly 30 different advertised brands. That means hundreds of people, likely within different companies in different locations, need access to creative assets so they can get to market fast and execute flawlessly according to plan.

Big Bang of Assets
For all the expert hands required along the asset conveyor belt in the modern media landscape, those numbers pale in comparison to the actual assets needed for just one campaign. Sometimes a single ad needs to be transcoded into hundreds of formats so that it can run on any screen or device.

Extreme Reach data shows that in 2015, on average, brands were holding 4,646 active assets in their creative portals. This year, that number spiked to 13,264 — a 185 percent increase. And for smaller companies — those that in 2015 only had 400 or so active assets — increases of 250 percent and more are the norm. It’s not just a result of the proliferation of screens but the ability to better target and personalize ads to local markets.



The Number of Ad Assets Has Grown Steadily Over the Past Four Years

Percentage Increase in Total Number of Creative Assets: 2018 vs. 2015

note: This is an analysis of more than 200 Extreme Reach customers over a four-year period.
source: 2018 Extreme Reach internal data


In addition, Extreme Reach’s examination of its customers’ workflows revealed that brands and their partners produced almost as many documents and data files to accompany the creative as the creative itself. In the average creative asset portal, 50 percent of the files include print images, traffic instructions, scripts, storyboards, and other administrative documentation that safeguard and shepherd the video ad creative from its finished format to its many destinations, and finally, to its safe and secure archive storage.

Short(er) Stories
Contributing to the asset explosion is the trend toward shorter stories. As brands generate more video creative to reach consumers across screens, they are also creating smaller packages to keep pace with consumer viewing habits. Extreme Reach data reveals how the triple threat of corporate budgets, consumer attention spans, and technologies that enable ad skipping are coming together to influence the length of video ads. Among the company’s client base, an increasing number of brands are running more 15-second variations and exploring the super-short realm of the six-second ad. It’s a trend reflective of consumer tastes, but also one that necessitates more formatting than ever before.



How TV/Video Ad Lengths Have Trended Over the Past Five Years

Shorter ads represent an increasingly larger percent of all ads year to year.


Consumer Packaged Goods Beverages

Fast Food/QSR

note: This is an analysis of more than 200 Extreme Reach customers over a five-year period.
source: 2018 Extreme Reach internal data


Not surprisingly, Extreme Reach sees this “short is better” trend playing out even more so in fiercely competitive, impulse-purchase categories like CPG-beverage, fast food, and quick service restaurants where frequency is key.

Taking Care of the Talent
And then there are talent rights to consider — the strict guidelines and processes for compensating the people who make the sight, sound, and motion of ads come to life.

Every advertiser and agency has experts in this complex arena because it involves big bucks and leaves no room for error.

Extreme Reach estimates that the average brand advertiser spends close to $30 million annually for all aspects of commercial talent and rights. That figure rises exponentially for the roughly one in two companies that make use of popular music or tap celebrities or known figures who get “guarantees” as part of their contract.

This is all to say that the underbelly of ad execution is not only complex but a major cost and resource drain when each aspect is done in a silo and with a dependency on manual hand-offs.

The technology exists today to integrate the interrelated and co-dependent functions of the creative asset workflow into one seamless platform. Every team, anywhere, still performs their very precise and essential step in the dance. But with synchronicity, they get to market faster, execute better, and future-proof their workflow for every tomorrow.