Here comes programmatic creative!

This post is by Stephan Argent, CEO of Argedia Group and a member of the Marketing FIRST Forum, the global consulting collective co-founded by TrinityP3

Well, if you just dropped that cup of coffee you were holding, don’t worry – programmatic creative isn’t a new way of automating the creative process, or something’s that’s been dreamed up in someone’s garage and is about to become the new darling start-up.

It’s daft. And about as useful as an inflatable anchor.

Programmatic creative

From math men to mad men…

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Sir Martin Sorrell’s comments that advertising has moved from “math men to mad men…” so much so, that I almost called this article, “The case for mad men”. But, as good as Sir Martin’s headline grabbing comments may have been, it’s already in need of a bit of a brand refresh.

The issue is that analytics, media mix modeling, programmatic buying, programmatic algorithms, return on investment calculations and profitability metrics have been hogging the limelight recently, as technology enables deeper dives into the science of advertising.

Our craft still relies on both art and science

We may now have what we consider to be “start of the art” technology to help us dig deep, analyze and possibly predict consumer behavior, but our craft still relies on both art and science for it to work properly and effectively.

Bill Bernbach perhaps said it best when he said: “Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”

And that’s why I think it’s a little premature for anyone to be waving goodbye to the notion of “mad men” in our business. In my view, mad men (and women) are the heart grabbing, soul stirring, thinkers, and magicians who can turn a box on rubber into a car you can’t live without, or a bottle of bubbles into happiness. They can make us laugh, make us cry and perhaps even help us crave things we didn’t even know we wanted. That’s the art of advertising.

I don’t care if the canvas is now the size of a postage stamp or can be skipped after five seconds. It’s no different than not having all the lenses and accessories you once needed to take a picture with an old 35mm camera, that’s largely been replaced with something that can fit into your top pocket. You still have to find the shot. You still have to capture the shot. And you’ll probably still need to retouch it afterwards. And likely as not, it’ll certainly need a headline or a tagline to bring it all together.

If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative

Technology is helping to evolve our business so that math men have a greater role to play than they’ve ever played before. If we were robots without souls, without compassion, without needs, wants (realized or unrealized) and desires, then perhaps programmatic creative may one day become a reality. But we’re humans. And thinking, creativity, selling – and perhaps a little luck – will always have a role to play in advertising.

Because, as David Ogilvy once said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” And I seriously doubt anyone will create an algorithm that can stand up to that kind of scrutiny.

About Stephan Argent

Stephan Argent is a former agency planner from England, and has held senior roles in agencies in both Canada and the United States. Most recently he was Vice President of Digital Media at CTV, and is now President of Le Riche Argent, Canada’s leading independent Agency Search and Media Management Consultancy.” Visit Le Riche Argent here

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