The Future of Creativity is Atomic
To meet customers where they are in their journey, more marketing and creative teams are delivering “atomic” ad elements.
Meet Your Customers Where They Are
In today’s increasingly complex landscape, marketers are challenged to meet customers where they are in their journey and deliver personalized experiences. According to a study by PwC, 73% of people report that customer experience is a key factor in their purchasing decisions. Despite this, only 49% of U.S. customers feel like they have a positive experience. If you aren’t delivering personalized customer experiences, you need to find a way to quickly keep up. Artificial intelligence can help close the customer experience gap by making it possible to create tailored, relevant customer ad experiences through atomic creative.
What is Atomic Creative?
Gartner defines atomic content as “dynamically, and often in real-time, combining different content ‘atoms’ to create a more relevant overall marketing asset and experience that specifically meets the needs of the recipient based on where they are on the customer journey.” These “atoms” are customizable, reusable content elements, such as copy, images, videos, or CTAs, that can be assembled into whole assets. Because atomic creative involves creating ad elements once and reusing them, it can be a huge time-saver for marketers. More importantly, the overall benefit of atomic creative is delivering tailored, relevant customer experiences that deepen relationships between audiences and brands, and in turn, increase conversions and loyal customers.
How to Develop Atomic Creative
Developing an atomic creative strategy requires a comprehensive review of data from previous touchpoints and interactions in order to understand what ads have resonated with your target audience at different moments. Marketers, creatives and customer experience professionals need to be hyper-focused on what they want to test and optimize. To effectively personalize ads for different segments and journeys, teams need to bring an experimental mindset to mix and match creative development so they can learn what works. In addition to identifying effective marketing propositions across key touchpoints, teams can discover that the customer journey itself may not be what they thought. To that end, it’s important to experiment with different value propositions that can reveal previously unknown patterns in the customer experience.
Get by With a Little Help From AI
All of the analysis, testing, and optimization that is necessary to deploy atomic ads and meet customers where they are is impossible without advanced technology. Artificial intelligence tools can parse through assembled ads while pulling in different data sets such as audience and budget to provide a holistic view of the customer journey. In Forrester’s new report, AI is a New Kind of Creative Partner, Analyst Thomas Husson writes that “content intelligence – defined as the use of AI technologies to understand and capture the qualities inherent in any content (its emotional attributes, subject matter, style, tone, or sentiment) – is crucial to improving engagement throughout key moments of the customer journey.” Armed with a deeper understanding of the customer journey and what audiences are engaging with, marketers can accurately pinpoint creative elements and messaging that delights consumers.
Even the most data-driven marketers don’t have the capacity to test as many permutations and combinations of ad elements at the pace and scale of a machine. AI tools can autonomously conduct multivariate tests by exploring combinations of creatives, headlines, copy, and more, to identify winning combinations of atoms that deliver higher engagement. Marketing and creative teams can leverage these rapid tests and become capable of answering ongoing strategic, creative, intuition and emotion-related questions. They find they can learn faster and produce exponentially better outcomes together with an autonomous AI than either human or machine could alone.
Surprise: AI Makes Your Creative More Human
Brands that prioritize agility and innovation in their marketing and advertising strategy will leap ahead of the competition. AI can be the fuel for delivering atomic creative, and marketers who incorporate insights from AI into their creative processes will see higher engagement. Leveraging AI as a creative partner will be the key to delivering relevant, targeted, and personalized ads throughout the customer journey.
2020 Marketing AI Predictions
As Fortune 500 companies continue to explore more efficient avenues to grow revenue, reduce costs, and improve customer experience, their understanding of the role of artificial intelligence in digital advertising is evolving. Based on our experience guiding clients through their AI adoption journey, this is how we expect marketers’ attitudes towards AI will shift in 2020.
Marketers stop putting up with AI-washing
Gartner reports that artificial intelligence in marketing has reached the peak of inflated expectations. This is good news for solutions that are not AI-washing their existing offerings, as well as for marketers and advertisers who have already been burned by technology that does not deliver on its promises. In 2020, wary marketers will begin to cut through the AI hype by asking vendors more specific questions about how and why AI is deployed to solve the problems their solution claims to address. Rather than quickly adopt a new tool based on buzz, marketers will insist on understanding why the traditional way has failed until now and why a new approach is required. Marketers will no longer accept pitches from vendors who only provide vague answers about using AI “because it’s better” or worse, that it’s “AI magic.” They will insist on understanding how it solves problems in ways they never could have in the past.
Solutions that layer on “AI frosting” will continue to disappoint
In a commissioned study conducted by Forrester on behalf of Albert, Forrester found that AI adoption in marketing jumped from 43% in 2016 to 88% in 2019. By the end of 2020, we expect that 98% of marketers will be using AI. However, the full benefits of AI are still elusive to many because 3 out of 4 marketers are implementing assistive AI, meaning the AI is layered on top of an existing/traditional application to surface recommendations and insights. This leaves it up to humans to take action. The true value of AI is delivered when it is combined with Robotic Process Automation (RPA), so the solution can take action autonomously in real-time. Throughout 2020, we anticipate that more marketers will seek out technology that combines AI with execution capabilities as they chase truly transformative impact.
In-house marketers embrace human + machine teams
Facing economic constraints as well as pressures to stay competitive, B2C marketers who have been testing AI on a smaller scale will be driven to pioneer autonomous AI solutions. These brands will discover that the key to success involves creating human+machine digital advertising teams where artificial intelligence handles massive multivariate testing and repetitive data-driven adjustments required to deliver KPIs. At the same time, marketers will begin to collaborate with the tech to create learning agendas designed to answer ongoing strategic, creative, intuition and emotion-related questions that the machine alone cannot. Results will prove that these hybrid teams produce exponentially better outcomes than neither human nor machine could produce on their own.
Innovation in marketing will come from humans, not tech
As increasing numbers of marketers adopt autonomous AI, they will discover that that the road to digital transformation is paved with questions. In the face of consistent positive results, marketers will become more comfortable with machine colleagues pulling the levers of execution and will let go of concerns about why the machine did one thing and not another. This shift will open the door to questions about audience, creative and budget insights gleaned by the machine. Newly empowered marketers will begin to think about ways to have their autonomous AI colleagues test out hypotheses through efficient exploration. Insights will start to come back faster than ever before, creating a cycle of questions, tests, and results that will fuel innovation with a reach far beyond paid digital advertising teams. Human insights supported by machine learning will drive enterprise-wide insights and help marketers reclaim the greater and original function of marketing: building powerful brand and audience connections.