How DCO Is Enriching Multi-Location Marketing

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Multi-location marketing is notoriously difficult to accomplish across hundreds or even thousands of locations. Many agencies claim to offer localized capabilities, but in practice, they are targeting dozens of stores in a designated market area and calling their approach “localized.” But we all know truly localized creative would look different in Indianapolis than in Indiana’s rural towns. Now, some multi-location and franchise marketers are looking to dynamic creative optimization, or DCO, to expand their localized digital marketing capabilities. Tommaso Vaccarella, GM, Connected-Stories, connected with Street Fight to explain how DCO and multi-location are coming together. 

How would you describe DCO’s evolution over the last couple of years? Where is the space heading?

Over the last decade, DCO technology has largely overpromised, and under-delivered, turning the letters “DCO” into somewhat of a bad acronym. As a matter of fact, DCO has never been truly dynamic, nor creative, and let alone actually built to optimize creatives. It was mainly confined to banner ads, changing the colors of the call-to-action or backgrounds, or perhaps adjusting products and pricing.  Even if all the combinations were actually accurately assembled by mysterious algorithms, the very same creatives were shown on crappy long-tail inventory that nobody really paid attention to. 

Flash forward 10 years (give or take), and thanks all to the educational work done by the friendly competition in the data-driven creative space, we are now starting to see a more sophisticated approach to creative personalization and interactivity. As consumers today expect so much more, video has become the number-one way for brands to engage with their audience. Data has started to make its way in and out of such creatives, though often in a rudimentary way. Agencies and marketers are now, more so than in the past, trying to take a unified strategic approach in terms of thinking of media and creative as a single thing.

So, I guess we are still at the beginning of what is the biggest challenge of the ‘20s, but the signals seem promising. 

This is a sizable channel for many advertisers, but less of a priority in a world where consumers spend more time watching videos across CTV and social platforms. Younger audiences grew up with the internet. They likely don’t remember a time before the interactivity of the smartphone or tablet, so they are used to multimodal forms of communication. Display ads are not going to capture this audience’s attention the same way that video will. 

How do the challenges and opportunities of DCO for video differ from the practice’s impact on, say, display?

Activating DCO for video advertising has been technologically complex and time intensive until very recently. Advertisers are simply not accustomed to relying on creative technology across their most premium media buys, a sentiment that is no longer in sync with real capabilities. Advertisers are also failing to apply a data-driven approach to their creative on these premium buys.

This is mostly because DCO solutions are largely built for display and cannot handle the creative elements and interactivity needed for true multimodal video ads. This only reinforces my previous point of declaring DCO dead. 

The other big difference between video and display is in the production process, which in turn impacts all the aspects related to personalization. When video ads are shot, they aren’t planned with any consideration as to how creative technology can manipulate the content in real-time once the ad actually enters the world.

Therefore, video creatives are mostly monolithic files, presenting both an opportunity as well as a challenging puzzle to solve. This is different from display banners, which are made of small modules that are easy to manipulate.

Tech is now capable of handling and working around the challenges of video files, but the entire production approach still needs to be changed. Producing the creative components correctly can unlock a lot of engagement with audiences, especially those who are turning away from traditional linear TV in favor of online video or ad-supported CTV.

DCO promises personalized and more effective creative. Localized marketing is about the same. How are multi-location marketers using DCO?

Successful localized marketing is really only possible with granular targeting and customized messaging. Data-driven creatives are designed for these kinds of marketers. 

Through creative tech, multi-location marketers can optimize content creation, cutting costs and expediting the process. Marketers can also finally see what works and what doesn’t with granularity on the creative side, instead of being blindly focused on the media side of the equation. Finally, they can use the insights to optimize their ads in terms of messaging, visuals, etc. and then feed these insights back on the media side to fine-tune their spending and targeting.

Rather than make individual ads to run in different markets, the marketers only need to make creative elements that they can mix and match, depending on location and audience.

One of our partners, Premion, uses the Connected-Stories NEXT platform, managed by our creative specialists, as their creative management to power their dynamic creative ads. Together, we’re transforming CTV ads into messaging that is unique to individual households with localized and interactive enhancements. 

Do you see the adoption of DCO by multi-location marketers as scant, fairly common, widespread? How big is the opportunity, and how much do you expect the connection between multi-location and DCO to evolve over the next couple of years?

There is a massive opportunity for multi-location marketers who make use of data-driven creatives, especially as CTV becomes a larger part of their plans and online video inventory becomes even cheaper. There is so much more CTV inventory available compared to a year ago. While big name-brand channels like Disney+ and Netflix will attract huge blue-chip advertisers, the rise of FAST channels is creating more opportunities for smaller regional retailers. 

As these marketers adopt CTV, they’ll find that data-driven creative represents one of the best ways to deliver captivating creative in a targeted fashion with minimal effort and a massive uplift in performance. We are still in an early stage, but we will see a massive change in the next couple of years and even more so at the end of the decade.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]