In part 1 of this series, I gave an overview of beliefs the DAM community has developed over time that need to be reassessed. In my part 2 I went into depth on the first of those beliefs, highlighting how the need to manage content across silos is becoming both more critical and easier. In this post, I'll talk about another belief.

Forty thousand years ago, prehistoric artists in Spain and Indonesia sprayed pigment on a cave wall, and art was born (Mel Brooks pinpoints the birth of art and art criticism even earlier). And in the intervening eons, it's remained the case that creative content is handcrafted. But the times they are a changin'. We have to expand our thinking beyond handmade content, because of the mainstreaming of programmatic creative. Here are a few examples, just from the last month:

  1. GoPro campaignAdweek awarded GoPro's campaign, "There's a Hero in All of Us," it's Media Plan of the Year award for Best use of Programmatic. The campaign was aimed at consumers in 14 countries, speaking 9 languages, and using 5 currencies. The campaign included 1,600 pieces of addressable content that spoke to each consumer. For example, German consumers love travel photography, so they might receive a message featuring the camera's waterproof design. The campaign generated over 150 million impressions and returned $7 in profit for every dollar spent. (Source)

  2. And it's not just imagery. Also in September, YouTube announced Director Mix, to let advertisers create thousands of video ad variations and serve them dynamically. Campbell's Soup, for example, ran ads on YouTube clips from Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" with the tagline, "Does your cooking make prison food seem good?". And they showed people who watched Beyonce's "Single Ladies" music video a similar spot, but with the line, "Dinner for one?” (Sources 1, 2, 3)

With the rise of this kind of personalization and targeting creating an insatiable programmatic advertising beast, content creation has become the bottleneck to marketing scale. You can't realistically create a million different ads when each one requires a human-driven creative process. But there are signs a future of effectively unlimited content creation might be possible, and not that far off.

But before we talk about that future, let me show you an example of the bottleneck of content creation. Imagine you're launching a new campaign for a car. As part of that, you might need a Facebook ad, so you turn to your creative director Melinda, and ask her for help.

Melinda is a great creative director, so with limited input and just a few days, she comes up with something. Fast forward to Friday and she's writing back. Unfortunately, as you can see, the result isn't quite what you'd hoped for (not that your ask was very specific!)

Of course this toy example is pretty silly. It's a really bad process to request stuff by text (but we all know that in large companies we have to use any tool at our disposal to work around the lousy systems we're often given).

But more importantly, it also illustrates the huge wasted effort that often goes into creating an ad that then has to be rebuilt. And if this was a more complicated ad, like a video, that effort would be magnified manyfold. And maybe most importantly, the marketer seems to be making decisions about what the ad should look like a bit on the fly. They didn't provide specs of airport, car color, or what model to use.

So that's the old way, the way of fully handcrafted content. How is the creation process changing to facilitate the massive scale required by programmatic campaigns? What we see is an increased focus on connecting the three required parts of the creative supply chain: creative production, creative management platforms and dynamic creative optimization tools that assemble ad combinations (learn more about these here, and programmatic creative assembly in channel (Facebook, YouTube, etc,), to make it much easier to clear the creative bottleneck.

Using the targeting descriptors a marketer has in mind, like airport, model gender and age, call to action text, and copy, they would be able to pull relevant content in from their DAM directly, making it easy to assemble 35 thousand–or 35 million–ad variants in just minutes in a creative management platform and upload them to channels that allow programmatic creative assembly to serve the ads to the appropriate audiences.

Beyond advertising, this same technique can be used to optimize owned media, like multivariate testing of content for a travel portal or retail site. Multivariate testing, like personalization, requires generating a lot of different combinations of content that are then tested against one another to identify the best performing combinations. If you combine testing programs with personalization, as is common, the potential variations required grows even more.

So if your creative operations or agency still insists on reviewing every single execution of every single piece of content, you'll find yourself at a growing disadvantage. It's time (past time, really) to start adapting your processes to deliver much faster throughput and embrace today’s programmatic reality.

In my next post, I'll talk about a trend closely related to programmatic–just as the content we marketers are creating is becoming increasingly atomic, so too is the attention span of our audience. What does content that's ever more ephemeral mean for DAM? Stay tuned to find out!

If you're enjoying this series, I'd love to chat with you about DAM trends, and what you can do about them, at the DAM LA 2017 conference in mid-November. You can register at a discounted rate by using the code URI100. I will be speaking more about the ideas in this series in a Keynote on Day 1; and on the vendor panel on Day 2. I look forward to seeing you there!