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

An increasingly complex digital landscape can easily spiral out of control

The art and science of marketing are equal parts human and machine. Brands are quick to match the human to the art and technology to the science. The truth is that technology is now transforming every area of life and is most successful when it automates manual tasks and maximizes the time available for creative minds to flourish.

Technology and creativity have come together in many ways already, of course. But as the number of outlets where marketers can advertise and the volume of content increases every year, it’s becoming ever more essential to have access to tools that support and enable such a fluid industry.

For technology to meaningfully benefit and add value for creative teams, it must meet the growing complexity of building, managing, and distributing marketing assets. It also needs to improve the entire creative flow — not just introduce tools, additional processes, and tasks that become a drag for the users.

Future-proofing creative operations is crucial in giving brands a competitive advantage. As they consider the use of technology within the marketing processes moving forward, brand managers need to ask the following questions:

  • Does a tool empower creativity by freeing human minds to do what they do best?
  • Does a solution significantly streamline workflow to enable speed and precision and reduce risk?
  • Does the technology provide insights that help team members understand the effectiveness of their advertising spending?

Media strategists, planners, and buyers must be wildly creative — albeit steeped in online analytics — in navigating an ever-growing menu of channels and customer touchpoints with the aim of driving optimal results for their ad campaigns.

The Age of Agility
Marketers face growing challenges in distributing their content to the right customers, at the right time, at the right place, wherever they are.

Unlike the early days of advertising, customers and prospects are always-on, absorbing content via multiple channels, 24/7/365. Marketing only works when it delivers relevant, targeted messaging that suits individuals at a specific point and place in time. As more content is pushed to consumers — as opposed to them “pulling” the content — they are more personally affected by it, positively or negatively.

The behavioral changes put more pressure than ever on brands to create content that is both culturally sensitive and time appropriate, while being compelling and appealing. The role of technology providers is to lift the weight of administrative tasks and give people their time back to devote to the creative thought-process.

Considering the challenges confronting marketers, it’s past time for a comprehensive reset of how brands boost workflow efficiency across the entire creative lifecycle, including developing, casting, and producing brand stories.

Heads in the Cloud
In the current marketing climate, virtually every business worldwide leans on cloud technology to enable their day-to-day operations. Supporting the creative process is no different. Cloud-hosted solutions are fundamental to effective global collaboration, enabling users across markets and organizations to work together in real time, designing, sharing, approving, managing, and distributing assets and materials.

Cloud-hosted, end-to-end solutions should facilitate great ideas rather than obstruct them. For the marketing industry, this means supporting the entire process: turning creative ideas into finished assets; distributing them in perfect quality to all compliant media outlets, residing in any geography; and tracking them according to media buys and the overall plan. The technology should seamlessly integrate manual activity, streamline workflows, and provide clear visibility for everyone involved in the process.

The best way to achieve these goals is to use solutions that are flexible to business needs, configurable to custom business rules and taxonomy, and open to integration with existing tools and programs.

The proliferation of media assets and content — while a creative person’s dream — can present a contractual and rights nightmare. Centralized solutions can also play a vital role in tracking the planning, cost, use, and payment of talent, and the control and legal compliance of usage rights.

When the breadth of asset distribution is so wide, the risk and potential cost from fines and breaches is enormous.

Connecting the Noncreative Dots
An increasingly complex marketing landscape can easily spiral beyond the control of marketers. More companies, with more participants, assets, media outlets, and customer touchpoints than ever, mean technology solutions need to provide simple control, tracking, and visibility for marketers to feel comfortable with their investment decisions.

Through the use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) marketers also need to auto analyze data and information and begin to make recommendations for ways to optimize and improve asset deployment.

Having one, seamless creative supply chain at the core expands the value of marketing from purely marketing efficiency to cross-business value. It connects and integrates with other business systems, pushing and pulling information at the right time, with the right supporting data.

As marketers grapple with a post-pandemic future, agility is shaping up to be the most powerful attribute for successful brands and organizations. The ability to onboard and drive adoption of new solutions must also be considered in technology selection. Businesses want to obtain value and benefit quickly, with minimal effort.

Finding the right solutions is fast becoming a top priority for marketers. Those solutions must be simple to adopt while improving efficiency and facilitating global collaboration. They must also provide clear business insight and value while easing the burden on marketers to ensure their stories connect with an increasingly discerning customer.

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