Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) Is the Ultimate Destination, but…

on July 6, 2015


…you don’t have to go all the way there in one leap. Theorem Inc.’s delivery head, Manuel Moreta, discusses the steps necessary for moving towards Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO).

No one would deny that one of the major drivers of change in the digital marketing sector is the move to user-centric design. And it’s got to be seen as a positive development. Why? Because the only way to create compelling, personalized content that really connects with target groups is to make sure it’s produced at the most individualized, customized level possible.

Automation gives media owners the ability to achieve dynamic creative optimization (DCO) at scale. Marketers can thus take a user-centric approach to online advertising, which in turn gets the right ad to the right user. DCO enables dynamic adaptation of the message according to a number of factors—such as geography, demographics, and messaging—which results in a creative that is better targeted and that will generate better return on investment.

This may seem very obvious. But when we started down the digital road together, it was all about clicks, eyeballs, and visitors. As an industry, we somehow left out the human side of communications. Ironically enough, that human side has become able to get back in—but only through the technology door. That’s because technology can now go way further than telling what kind of device the content is being viewed on. Thanks to geotagging, technology can tell where in the world the user is—and under what kind of meteorological conditions. Thus, an ad that used to serve up the same plain-vanilla message about, for example, a brand of waterproof clothing can now target people in Minneapolis on a rainy day and tell them where the nearest store can be found.

This is the much more relevant and much more immersive advertising that has been our dream since Mad Men. And much of the current buzz on connection with it involves DCO as a tool.

Media owners have pools of user data for implementing successful DCO campaigns and—if the marketers’, also known as clients’, objectives are relevant—they can also create content on behalf of the client that can be included during the DCO process. With this in mind, you can see the importance of a DCO campaign to a media owner, with the success of the campaign potentially further ensured when DCO is used in conjunction with native ads and the traditional media owner advertorial.

DCO’s real gift is the way it enables compartmentalization of an electronic ad. DCO is a powerful way of serving up flexibility, of chunking content into sections that can be further tailored—and linked to specific and useful local conditions. We worked with a sporting goods client for which we built a cool New York bar scenario that let tailored virtual cocktails be “served” based on users’ actual locations and the time of day or night they were interacting with the scenario.

The feedback told us what we’d already known: that people like contextualized experiences—the kinds of experiences that speak to them. You can already see the world that’s shaping up here for brands every time you check in to Amazon: the way the system remembers you, keeps checking in with suggestions, and can shape information in ways that align closely with you and your interests.

I think the DCO revolution has only just started.

The next step is going to be about much-more-detailed user location, by which I mean it will be about much more than GPS coordinates. I’m talking biometrics and sensors that deliver physiological layers of information. Just imagine how much more detailed an offering you could create knowing that much more about the consumer?

Major stepping-stone

How to get there from here? A chief marketing officer’s smartest play, as DCO becomes more prevalent, is to understand that it is the ultimate destination, but you can get there at your own pace. Don’t forget that there’s investment here, which can be considerable.

Having said this, we at Theorem suggest getting in the game sooner rather than later—but with a strategy. Evaluate tools and get best-practices guidance before taking the leap. Maybe a trial project or two would get your feet wet in the DCO paradigm. Link up with a partner or trusted adviser who can offer you the best way to get started.

DCO is a major stepping-stone to customization. Its mix of data can have a profound impact on user engagement, and an understanding of how the pieces fit together is becoming more and more important. My advice to anyone who isn’t already evaluating DCO would be to do it now or prepare to lose out to the competition.

Kara DegeorgisDynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) Is the Ultimate Destination, but…

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