It’s Time to Redefine ‘Optimization’

By : Alex Collmer


For years, the term ‘optimization’ has had a very specific meaning in the advertising world. Everyone knows it. Optimization means making changes to budget allocations or targeting parameters in order to increase the performance of an advertising campaign. Originally, this was done manually. But over time, an entire Ad Tech industry sprung up to make optimization more efficient and more effective.

There’s only one problem: performance is a three-legged stool, and budget shifts and targeting enhancements are the two smallest legs by far.

When it comes to performance, creative is the overwhelming driver of results. We’ve seen a variety of numbers presented to marketers by our partners at Facebook, Google, and Snapchat on this topic, but they all say something to this effect:

So, if creative is responsible for 70% of performance, why does an entire industry accept that optimization only applies to the two, far smaller drivers of results? I asked a CMO of a large brand this exact question a few weeks ago, and her answer was simply to look into the distance, pause for a moment, and say, “Huh, that’s interesting.”

Moments later she extrapolated on this, “I guess it’s because it was never possible. We didn’t have data fast enough. It was too expensive to make changes. And even if we could afford to do so, it would take so long that by the time we had new creative, the campaign would be over.”

And all of this makes a ton of sense. Every bit of it was true. But it’s not anymore.

Data on most digital platforms is essentially instantaneous. New creative platforms are making it cheap enough and fast enough that a brand actually can iterate on creative mid-campaign. And a creative platform like VidMob, that ties data and creativity seamlessly together in one unified platform, makes it possible to use data to inform and create smarter creative mid-campaign.

At VidMob, we talk to our clients a lot about inverting the decay curve. Gone are the days of launching something and watching its performance deteriorate over time. This is simply not acceptable anymore.

We’ve seen the results of this, and they are not small.  Here’s some math to highlight what I’m talking about:

How about an ROI calculation? 

And that’s just on one campaign. When you apply this process to an entire year’s worth of marketing, two things happen:

    • First, your entire marketing operation gets smarter. VidMob’s Creative Intelligence tool, available in Creative Studio, accumulates learnings from each piece of creative, in each targeted demographic, learning over time what are the specific creative attributes that are driving a brand’s success or failure.
    • Second, you accumulate huge marketing efficiencies. If you want to change the nature of your relationship with your boss, imagine walking down the hall and showing her a screen showcasing how your creative platform drove media value improvements of over $100 million this year? I’d love to watch that conversation unfold.

So let’s all agree to put the old definition of ‘optimization’ to bed. Advances in technology have finally brought us to the point where we can reasonably expect to optimize the thing that matters most—creative—and not just the things that were possible in a low-tech world.

And when we all look back at this a few years from now, I’d be stunned if this wasn’t one of those things, like moon boots, bleached tails, or Pontiac Fiero’s, where we literally can’t believe we all collectively had it so wrong for so long.