Imagine a world where you can launch ad campaigns on time without slogging on weekends to meet deadlines.
Your designers feel fulfilled at work. Your prospects find your email creatives relevant and personalized. The return on investment (ROI) of your advertising efforts improves massively in a few days.
Sounds like a dream, right?
But it’s also one that’s within the realm of possibility.
Even I felt skeptical when I discovered Creative Automation — a system to create 1,000s of pixel-perfect videos, creatives, and banner ads using automated customization.
This article will explain what creative automation is and how it can make your life easier by saving time, money and removing repetitive manual work.
Creative automation is the idea of using technology to simplify the modification of creative assets like video or banner ads using automation.
It removes the repetitive, manual effort needed for customization at scale and empowers teams to produce thousands of high-quality video or banner ad variations from a base template in minutes.
Businesses that need to design or customize a large number of video or static creative assets frequently benefit from using this automation tech.
It can help companies in marketing localization while ensuring brand consistency globally. It also reduces a campaign’s time to market while lowering the marketing costs.
Creative automation software applications make it easy to create, optimize, and manage visual content. They can rapidly create multiple versions of a base template — both static and video — using automation.
Designers create the base template using tools like Adobe After Effects. Then, dynamic elements (text, image, audio, background, etc.) are identified for customization. Teams or individuals then map each component to a field in a linked spreadsheet or a type of data repository. A change in the spreadsheet causes elements like text or audio to change simultaneously.
Note: people often confuse Creative Automation with Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) but they are not the same
This video gives an overview of how most creative automation platforms help companies do faster content versioning and content localization.
A large percentage of marketers and designers are unaware of creative automation solutions. As per a study, only 18% of digital advertising decision-makers have completely automated processes for content versioning.
Manually doing large-scale content versioning is like driving 10 km to the same burger joint every time you feel lazy to cook instead of ordering via an app. In the end, you spend more, waste time, and feel exhausted.
Whether you version your creatives manually or use automation, content is the center of today’s digital experience. Companies that can produce high-quality and engaging content at scale increase the odds of grabbing the audience’s attention.
However, generating all of that content can be an arduous process if it involves heavy editing. Creative automation comes into play and removes production bottlenecks by automating content versioning.
Let’s look at some significant benefits of automating creative production.
Producing video and banner ads at scale makes up a significant portion of an advertising budget.
Imagine being assigned the responsibility of executing a global marketing campaign. Your boss has allocated “enough budget” to promote a recently launched phone — and it’s not Samsung or Apple. He has his head in the cloud and aspires to connect with regional audiences for faster growth.
When you got this opportunity, your energy level touched the roof, but you soon realized you were biting off more than you could chew. The number of ad variations needed for successful campaign execution causes more anxiety. The idea of hiring an agency for a timely campaign launch causes more stress.
You could have lessened this stress if you had the right tools (or unlimited budget) to scale creative production; while simultaneously connecting with regional audiences using personalization.
Manual customization is time-consuming and costly. Earlier, the headcount needed for content localization would increase with the number of variations. More employees mean more salaries.
By automating content versioning of video and static creatives, you can reduce your production costs. Start with one base template, let’s say a video ad, then swap the text or sound to deliver personalized video ads to your viewers.
Money allocated to hire more people for boring, repetitive customization can be spent elsewhere.
In today’s competitive environment, the ability to be in the right place at the right time has become difficult.
When Cristiano Ronaldo gestured people to drink water instead of Coke during a press conference, companies quickly cashed in on the opportunity. They subtly promoted their products using moment marketing. The effort would have multiplied for a global brand with the tweaks needed to align with different regions.
I’m not a designer, but I’m sure the thought of customizing creative assets repeatedly in such instances will cause a headache.
A study shows 64% of creative teams spend at least 5–10 hours per week on mundane edit requests.
Creative automation tools help you quickly launch campaigns for different audiences and goals. Automation can make your life much easier, whether you’re running a personalized email marketing campaign or retargeting prospects using ads. You can customize a base template into thousands of pixel-perfect variations based on data or content localization goals.
Most content versioning platforms also evade unnecessary feedback loops. They have the functionality to get approvals/internal reviews on the asset within the application and share them directly on social channels.
Marketers and designers spend hours upon hours creating and fine-tuning their marketing assets. When brand consistency directly contributes to revenue growth, teams can be oblivious to the hours they waste on manual editing.
Creative quality defines 75% of advertising impact.
Still, they often have a difficult time staying consistent across different marketing channels and countries. It happens because each channel or region uses creative assets from multiple sources.
Most creative automation tools help ensure brand consistency by enabling you to lock dynamic elements of your assets. Font, color, design can be disabled for editing when a video or banner needs to be customized.
Let’s take the example of Coca-Cola. Do you associate red color with Coke or McDonalds?
Suppose the beverage manufacturer needs all its creative assets to be published with red color, a specific font, and avoid accidental localization blunders by regional teams. In that case, they can disable change of color in the versioning software and reduce the possibility of a human error.
Colgate once launched toothpaste in France named “Cue” without realizing that it’s also the name of a French pornographic magazine.
Such incidents happen when you don’t involve a regional team while marketing your business in a foreign land.
Now, such blunders would be more destructive for a brand — thanks to the internet.
Regional employees or agencies are familiar with the local nuances, culture, and language. They can help you create assets that touch the right chord with your consumers.
And for most regional marketing campaigns, creative assets don’t need to be created from scratch. They only need customization.
But companies are skeptical about giving complete creative control to local agencies to ensure brand consistency. Creative changes made by regional teams go through multiple stages of approval before going live.
Creative automation tools can speed up the content localization process by removing unnecessary approvals and avoiding creative blunders.
As mentioned earlier, they have the functionality to restrict editing of dynamic elements like font, color. Also, these elements can be changed at scale rapidly using a linked spreadsheet or a data repository. No manual work, less scope of human errors — hence fewer stages of approval.
Companies can also use this automation tech to personalize their marketing. For example: to build different versions of emails with personalized information about each customer’s account or interests based on past interactions with the company (for example, adding products to a cart or filling a form). Once again, you only need to provide input once or link the tool with a data repository that’s dynamically updated and let the software do the rest.
Most marketers agree people hate seeing the same old and boring ads repeatedly. But companies cannot afford to create original content for each user.
Instead, they make manual modifications on a base creative for various audience segments and content channels. But this approach doesn’t work too well because old-fashioned customization is slow, inefficient, and dull. It also increases the odds of human errors and can embarrass a company.
The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager - Peter Drucker
Many creative automation tools, like Ad-Lib or Celtra (no affiliations to these companies), empower brands and agencies to create customized creatives at scale. It vastly decreases production costs and helps launch campaigns faster. They also help ensure brand consistency and help you connect with your customers using marketing localization and personalization.
If you or your organization needs to design or customize a large number of video or static creative assets, it may make sense for you to use this automation tech.