Programmatic Display – 5 Creative Optimization Steps To Drive Performance

programmatic display creative optimization tactics

With more than two-thirds of all digital display advertising expected to be purchased programmatically this year, according to eMarketer, programmatic display is more sophisticated than ever before.

To successfully serve the right message to the right user, understanding the right creative strategies will enable you to deliver relevant messages that strongly appeal to your target audiences. More specifically, leveraging creative optimization tactics ultimately helps to amplify the results and ROI of your programmatic display campaigns.

Below are five programmatic creative strategies to boost your display advertising performance.

Customize creatives to segments

One size does not fit all with programmatic display creatives. A study by Yahoo in 2014 found that personalized ads are 54% more engaging and 45% more memorable compared to generalized creative.

If you’re buying data through a Data Management Platform (DMP), customize each creative to the audience insights provided by the DMP. Leveraging your DMP will enable you to create hyper-targeted ads that lead to higher conversion rates and ultimately maximize your investment.

If you don’t use a DMP, you can and still should segment creatives based on your target audiences. Tailor the ad messaging to the specific demographic, behavior, and geography of each customer. Delivering relevant ads to your audience segments means personalizing the ad content for each customer type and what matters to the specific audience group.

Optimize programmatic display through the ad server/DSP

Maximize the impact of programmatic display ads using the combined forces of your ad server and Demand Side Platform (DSP), not a dynamic creative optimization (DCO) ad.

Since creative optimization with DCO occurs at the level of the ad unit, the ad server and DSP are blind to important data about how each creative variation is performing with audience segment data. Instead, put discrete creatives directly into the DSP or ad server which can then use all of the data — creative, media and audience data — to track, learn in-flight, optimize, and ultimately decide which creative to show each viewer. You can use technologies like Creative Management Platforms (CMPs) to build a high volume of creative variations to optimize from. If you do, make sure your CMP has these essential features.

When audiences and creatives are simultaneously optimized together, the highest possible creative and audience pairings are surfaced which maximizes your ROI.

Split test ad creatives

Test various elements to learn the most effective and high performing aspects of your ad. Focusing on one element at a time, experiment with different messaging, images, call-to-actions, and colors. Evaluate what works well, document the results, and continue to build on top of high performing ads. Even subtle changes in your programmatic display creative can produce vastly different results.

Use testing as an opportunity to learn more about your audience and what resonates most. Are your customers more likely to engage with your ad with an image of your product, or a person using your product in action? Do certain keywords or specific aspects of your product or service particularly trigger engagement? Leverage this insight to improve your overall strategy.

Incorporate these findings into both active and future campaigns to continuously optimize your programmatic display performance.

Refresh and rotate creatives

To not fall victim to ad fatigue, a good rule of thumb is to refresh your creatives every 14-90 days. Keep a close eye on the metrics over time. Even ads that have performed historically well may suddenly decline due to its repetition. An Advertising Research Foundation study found that creative fatigue kills performance. Sales decline after 40 impressions have been served to the same person.

If your programmatic display ads are suddenly underperforming, draw your audiences back in with new creatives reflecting seasonality, new product launches, fresh visuals, and promotions. Similar to split testing, you can also swap the messaging, call to action, or colors.

By routinely refreshing your creative, consumers will be less likely to become desensitized or overlook your ad.

Don’t set it and forget it

One of the most critical components of programmatic display advertising is analyzing and making adjustments throughout the campaign. Keep an eye on any trends in the performance. If the performance starts to drop, use this as an opportunity to reinvigorate the campaign by using the aforementioned tips. It may be as simple as rotating the creative to boost the results, or an opportunity to set up a split test to gain deeper insight on your audience.

Creative optimization is an extremely effective strategy to continuously drive higher programmatic display performance. The more you put creative optimization into practice, the more you will be able to improve your conversion rate, deliver programmatic creative that resonates with your target audience, and maximize your overall success.


To learn more about programmatic creative and technologies such as Creative Management Platforms, download the free eBook here:

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