Brands ultimately want to sell their products and services. From the outset, the buying journey entails a cyclical series of communications that drive consumers from becoming aware of a brand to making a purchase. Of course, this is nothing new for marketers. However, what has changed over time is how we’re communicating, which today consists of numerous digital channels.
Keeping pace with a revolving door of new social media platforms and emerging features is challenging for even the most seasoned content marketer. Each channel and new medium has different size requirements, and on top of that, marketers must localise and personalise their assets based on the audience they’re targeting.
In a bid to tackle the ‘content crunch’ that exists today, designers spend a lot of time curating content to fit the needs and audiences of each individual platform, one by one. As the volume of assets grows, the content demand exponentially increases. Marketing teams have found themselves stretched thin as they grapple to balance content production with good storytelling. And finding the time to do both often means one falls short. As they re-size and make minor tweaks to assets to make them fit each channel, designers become starved from creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Producing a great deal of these small iterations for product retargeting ads and other forms of surveillance marketing could leave creatives feeling uninspired. However, it’s a proven method to generate consumer pushback, so improving the process to cut its repetitiveness and the time it consumes will be key.
This is where creative automation comes in. Brands have reached the boiling point where the pressure on creatives need to be relieved. Downstream campaign execution has already been almost entirely automated, so it’s time that marketing teams make the same level of investments in the creative side of campaign creation, too.
Creative automation at work
Creative automation allows brands to efficiently collaborate across teams and establish brand consistency at scale for their branded content. This gives marketers more time for strategic activities to help improve their campaigns’ success, while giving creatives more time to do what they do best: come up with creative ideas.
According to Bynder’s State of Branding report, just over 40% of B2C marketers felt that marketing automation would be best used for creating content more efficiently, and over a quarter of respondents felt that artificial intelligence and automation could positively impact their branding efforts. Despite major strides being made in terms of marketing task automation, for review and other administrative purposes, the process is still severely unbalanced. Upstream creative work remains largely manual and bespoke, and unless something changes soon, content production will continue to be unsustainable. With many brands realising the potential value that could come from automating portions of their creative processes, it’s time for these teams to put the wheels in motion to invest in the right technologies to make it happen.
The first step is assessing what tasks can be automated so the creative team can allocate more of their time and resources to bigger projects. It’s still common for content and asset creation efforts to sit with creative professionals, even when it’s simply creating different variations of similar assets. Instead, technology can step in to enable marketers to share the creative workload, and can automate the repetitive, low-skilled aspects of content creation.
For example, if you are preparing for an upcoming campaign around a new product launch that will be delivered across multiple channels and markets, all the campaign assets have similar branding, but the messaging and design format will need to be tweaked depending on the market and channel. Designers can create ‘master’ image or video templates that can then be updated by the marketing team as needed. Well-designed templates that control color, styling, and image selection assure brand consistency, while the asset can be edited to fit the channel requirements and include the appropriate message for each market.
The future of creative workflows
The ever-changing marketing landscape requires lightspeed innovation to keep up with. Advances in creative automation technologies could not come at a better time. While templatising and automating portions of the creative process may initially be applied sparingly, this more scalable approach will eventually change the way assets are created and delivered for good.
The days of one ‘big idea’ delivered as a set of finalised assets using an inflexible, linear process are limited. In-house creative teams and advertising and design agencies will need to deliver ‘kits’ of source files for marketing execution teams to utilise in campaign production and personalisation at scale. Creative automation helps marketing teams to quickly gather data, synthesise it and pivot their activities across a multitude of digital channels rapidly. It allows a more iterative test-and-learn approach to better inform campaigns using a set of different assets that can be experimented with by execution teams, without having to constantly restart a tiresome linear process.
Automation should be seen as a tool that enhances rather than replaces an agency’s or brand’s capabilities. Ultimately, creative automation will alleviate the major content crunch and enable teams to focus more on high value activities that make brands and individual campaigns more successful. It’s all about freeing the designer and empowering the marketer – and giving creativity the time it deserves.
Warren Daniels is the Vice President of Worldwide Demand Generation at Bynder