Precisely targeted, personalized digital creative is part of a today’s sophisticated marketer’s toolbox and on the wish-list for many more. The results are well enough established. The conversation has moved on from, “Is this really a good idea?” to “How do we actually deploy this in a way that will work for us?”. Understanding the impact is one thing, setting up to deliver successfully is another. To drive success, marketers need a clear vision of where they want to get to, an undistorted picture of the challenges involved and a plan in mind to address these challenges before they start. The destination An effective and functional content personalization system should have the following characteristics. Creative – which is personalized to boost the likelihood of first getting noticed and then driving the intended results (click/dwell/interact). Makes maximum use of available user data – with watertight data security and certainty of customer privacy. An efficient production system – which doesn’t incur the cost of creating 1000s of variants, or apply a capacity constraint on the ability to exploit the potential of personalization. A technology platform – that delivers detailed results to improve learnings for next time, as well as live optimization. The complication With the destination in mind, a clear view of the challenges and risks is necessary. The allure of personalization and workload demands to deliver sometimes result in a loss of focus, on creative quality or the discipline of deploying distinct assets which build brand equity. The decision of what to personalize is harder than it seems. What drives performance may not be what you expect and it varies by vertical. Demographic data is the first focus of attention for many marketers but it seldom ranks as a top three impact driver. Take the data to the right, for example. This only deals with the category of personalization triggers, not the intricacies of the choices themselves. As sophistication increases, the demand for further creative assets tends to grow exponentially. We’ve seen success in A/B testing a few dozen iterations, soon spiralling into requirements for thousands of different work permutations. Agency coordination is difficult, with creative agencies, media agencies and tech companies each offering part of the solution and a growing array of platform providers jostling for attention. Most marketers don’t have the training or bandwidth to evaluate the service or technology options. An opportunity soon starts to look like a headache. The solution In our experience working with clients across sectors and regions and in a variety of configurations, the following are key success drivers: 1. Focus on creative first and personalization second: Uplifts to ad performance through personalization are important, but the effect is smaller than the difference between a great creative concept grounded on audience insight and a bad one that is not. Equally, the medium/long term risk from creative which fails to reinforce (or undermines) core brand principles, will not be outweighed by the benefit of enhanced tactical performance. Fortunately, the ideas are not contradictory. By keeping creative direction close to production and baking brand management into the implementation process, brands can realize the immediate performance uplift of personalization, cut-through with compelling creative and deploy assets which contribute to long-term brand building. 2. Clearly distinguish roles and responsibilities: Be on the front foot with partners by clearly explaining their part of the puzzle and govern that. Don’t be tempted by the cop-out of throwing it back to the agencies to self-organize. Coordination remains your job as a marketer and you’ll get better results from clearer boundaries. We have seen the best results from this broad set-up. 3. Start with tried and proven routes: There are indeed 100s of options. But there are only a handful of fully developed, scale options. Unless you’re reaching a ceiling on innovation and capabilities, it makes sense to not re-invent the wheel. We work with a variety of the market leaders and remain independent. We have developed a good relationship with a market leader—Jivox. We find Jivox provides the best solution for efficiently deploying high volume advertising with real-time personalization and continuous optimization. Other independent authorities agree with us. Forrester’s Creative Advertising Technologies, Q4 2018 report found Jivox to be a leader in the segment and recommending that, “large global brands with rich, complex data sets and diverse geographic footprints should consider Jivox.” With our established relationship and tested ways of working, we work with Jivox to bring to market a powerful solution more quickly for our clients. If you would like to discuss further how your organization might best set-up for success with personalized creative, please get in touch.