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Mechanizing Your Media Ops with DCO: Future-proof for 2023

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It’s almost 2023, and you know what that means — media planning season is upon us! It’s time for brand and agency teams to begin to make sense of previous year’s learnings while gearing up for new tests.

I’ve seen many brand-side conversations try to crack Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) by placing it in the upcoming year’s “testing and innovation” bucket. But throughout that year, a host of issues would arise to block adoption. Ultimately, DCO would, once again, get downgraded to the “good to have” bucket, hoping to be picked up next year. And the cycle continues ...

Competing priorities are of no surprise. There may be time-sensitive disruptions, such as new product launches, product deprecations, new channel testing—the list goes on. Yet, if you’re not laying the groundwork for truly engaging ad experiences, your performance will likely suffer. 

In this blog, I’ll share what DCO is, when advertisers use it, and why there’s an urgency for your brand to adopt it. Enjoy!

What is DCO? 

DCO is simply the underlying technology that helps your business create bespoke ads at scale. It is the online equivalent of your favorite restaurant knowing your order before you say it and, when done well, it can be an impactful way to communicate with customers. DCO is another form of improving the user discovery journey, by ensuring you leverage a multitude of online clues to aid in the discovery of your products and services. 

Here are 3 common DCO use cases: 

#1. Behavioral targeting (the most common)

Ever get trailed by a pair of shoes you bought online? Most have. And that can be annoying, to say the least.

One way brands can improve user experience here is to opt for retargeting data for ad suppression and upselling. That means suppressing the same product and ad from being shown to users. So instead, you’ll display complementary products. Bought the shoes? Well, here are some socks. You can already achieve this now via regular pixel targeting.

With DCO, however, you can achieve much more scale beyond prospecting and retargeting. Imagine a travel campaign that uses personalized messaging based on a user’s unique journey. This could look like varying messages based on whether the user is searching for destinations, building an itinerary, or comparing flights and hotels. DCO allows you to build out the strategy and messaging at scale, using predetermined triggers. In fact, you can even pull out prevailing ticket prices and availability in seconds

📍How Innovid does it: Innovid’s DCO Plug & Play strategies help advertisers scale creatives with ease. Get into the market fast, receive consumer feedback in real time, and grow from there. To align with unique brand challenges, Innovid has built both display and video templates for the most common business objectives like awareness, consideration, online conversions, and offline sales. These strategies employ data that is easily accessible and significantly shortens the time needed to launch from months to weeks by streamlining the creative design and build processes.

While there is no limit to the triggers you can layer on to a campaign, it is best to make sure it makes sense within the context of your target audience. For example, while Innovid’s technology can turn around up to 1.2 million variations of a single template within a day, it does not make sense to do so in a small market — take Singapore for instance, with an online population of 4.8 million users. Instead you want to make sure each creative runs long enough to reach statistical significance. There are several methodologies for defining statistical significance — but when in doubt, feel free to drop me a PM to chat about your unique use case!

Here is how GSK managed to improve its ROI by 20%

#2. Campaign management 

DCO can also be used for campaign management, especially for activities such as managing promos or A/B tests. The ability to mechanize and scale up campaign management means you can make bulk edits with ease.

One thing retailers around the world started to encounter more often during the pandemic was supply chain shock — leading to advertisements that may be calling users to buy something that was out of stock. This not only was a terrible user experience, it was also a colossal waste of money. 

Without DCO, these often come with different types of heavy ad ops burdens. Promos are often time sensitive and any mistakes can have legal implications. A/B tests, on the other hand, require long-term planning, but can put immense pressure on ad ops to traffic. DCO allows you to make such edits in a heartbeat.

📍How Innovid does it: Build once, run everywhere — that is the mantra we take at Innovid when managing our client’s DCO campaigns. We can cut your creatives to specifications of every screen at scale, and have the one production cost made interoperable across multiple publishers. 

Campaign management is simply managed out of an Excel sheet to build out the variables. You can easily toggle between Live and Paused with simple Excel rules — or leave it to our team of experts to manage it for you. 

My team ran a campaign for a restaurant, where lettuce was out of stock for a particular campaign. We were able to make quick edits to remove all restaurant menu items with lettuce from their collateral, and promptly place them back in once shops were restocked with lettuce — all this in a matter of minutes after approval from the client. It is worth noting that all these edits are done with no additional fees charged to the client. It took about two weeks for the items to be restocked, and with 50% of their menu items affected, this amounted to almost $100,000 worth of advertising wastage that DCO was able to help avert.

#3. Creative management 

DCO enhances creative production on two levels. Firstly, it can be utilized by regional or global marketing teams, looking to standardize the look and feel of their ads. By using a single template with pre-built placeholders of where the images, call to action, and logos ought to sit, companies can enjoy the best of both worlds. These templates can retain a strong brand image while maintaining opportunities for the ad to be highly localized (eg. swapping out standard English languages for the local vernacular, changing out global logos with local legal entities).

Secondly, DCO can help to alleviate creative fatigue, with its ease of creating new variations based on the same template. Ad fatigue is often thought of as something “easily” solved by switching out the ads often enough. And I say easily with air quotes because that’s all in theory. Yet in practice, it often creates a battle of priorities, as discussed above. Creative fatigue often sets in when ads overstay their welcome on air, and users get multiple exposures leading to a decline in effectiveness — or in other words, “ad blindness.” Unsurprisingly, this results in lower click-through rates (CTRs) and, consequently, conversion rates (CVRs). With DCO, you can now monitor creative performance, and make prompt changes whenever you track that performance has started to plateau.

📍How Innovid does it: Innovid helps to create a new set of creatives at scale with our DCO Plug & Play solution. Our creative editing tools come with a set of APIs that are natively integrated with major publishers, 3rd party data providers, 3rd party verification partners, measurement aggregation tools, and more. This allows you to update your creatives in a single push to all channels, and deliver personalized experiences everywhere. It’s a starting point that is easy to build on and provides valuable insight into what’s resonating with your audience in real time.

Additionally, we integrated triggers like time of day, behavioral targeting from major publishers, browser language, geography, and sports scores to create a unique permutation that would pull up the right creative when the right conditions are met. As a fail-safe, we also deploy “default creatives,” which are generic creatives that are triggered when real-time decisioning fails.

Creative performance is also broken down on a creative level, instead of on an aggregated level, thus offering you the greatest degree of granularity. 

In conclusion: The case for DCO

There are many scenarios where DCO can help to improve your media operations. More often than not, DCO is the technical enabler for many more complex strategies down the road. So it is time for advertisers to examine what are truly the roadblocks to their various priorities.

When you’re ready to take the next step, Innovid works collaboratively with your team to plot out additional layers of relevance. While the promise of one-to-one personalization has historically been a lofty, long journey, we’re dedicated to creating the shortcuts, technology, and tools that are necessary to deliver relevant, efficient, and optimized brand experiences. 

Innovid brings standout DCO tools and so much more. Click here to explore.