Templated vs. Bespoke: Which Approach is Right For You

By Celtra

Finding the right ad product approach can be challenging to say the least. Over the last decade, we’ve seen creative trends come and go and it all boils down to two production approaches: templated and bespoke ad products. Like apples and oranges, these opposing methods leave media owners and operators wondering: To templatize or not to templatize? That is the question. Well, sort of. 

To pinpoint the right approach for your team, we need to rewind the clock. Let’s take a look at the past, present, and future of ad products so you can decide what’s best for your team. 

The rise of bespoke

If we take a look at creative trends pre-pandemic, a few things jump out from 2015-2018: 

  • Facebook dominated advertiser media plans
  • The monetization of social media was prioritized over owned and operated
  • Low site traffic due to social media (approximately 10% share) 
  • Weak value of publisher proprietary data

This resulted in complex, one-off creative executions, which drove an uptick in bespoke ad products and high investment in creative teams. 

Based on insights within our platform, we saw a rise in the popularity of custom creatives that utilized the gyroscope in mobile devices. This became the standard for knock-out creative execution. From shaking to tilting to flipping the device around, these custom creatives were extraordinary, but it was a passing trend. With the release of iOS13, it became more challenging to tap into the motion of a device, and slowly this trend faded away.  

Templated solutions take over

When we analyze creative trends post-pandemic, we see new trends emerge. 

  • Fragmentation of social media (like Clubhouse or TikTok) 
  • 3.2x higher site traffic
  • Increase in video inventory 
  • Strong value of proprietary data due to privacy restrictions (deprecation of cookies, IDFA, etc.) 

Due to the strained resources of the time, efficiency became the focal point. With that came the simplification of creative and the rise of templated ad products. This is because the templated approach can produce premium ad product suites even when teams lack traditional resources. At the same time, publishers started to act more and more like walled garden platforms to keep users inside, which amplified the simplification of ad creative and boosted the templated approach. 

Disrupting the cycle of ad creative

Just like the Bedazzler of the early ‘90s, templated and bespoke approaches are merely trends. When maximalism had a chokehold over ad products pre-pandemic like in the gyroscope ad example, it didn’t take long before minimalism caught up via the templated approach. 

At Celtra, we looked at how this trend developed over time to see how it affects ad creative. We developed a system to “t-shirt size” ad creative based on complexity, bucketing creatives into small, medium, and large categories based on different combinations of formats and features. We applied this to our Rich Media & Video ad products and took a look at how this has changed over time.

Here, from 2017 to 2022 we can clearly see that although there are some fluctuations, complexity has gradually been on the rise and peaked in September 2020. 

A look at the future

Complexity grows because of innovation. When creative teams need to maintain a manageable production process and work at scale, they introduce innovative solutions like automation to reduce turnaround times, grow revenue, and produce premium creative. 

Based on our platform data and market signals, another shift is coming. There is a growing desire to innovate new, never-been-done experiences like in the Metaverse and CTV. This will cause even greater creative complexity that needs to be both scalable and special. For teams, it means that finding a balance between templated and bespoke ad products is crucial to drive innovation.  

Create Templated or bespoke ad suites with Celtra

With Celtra’s Creative Automation for Media, now you can make the most of your monetization strategy. We have two different approaches based on your team’s needs: 

  1. Bespoke: This is the best fit for teams with design resources and skills to delight users. Our industry-leading ad builder has everything you need to create high-impact ad units. Easily customize the look and feel of ad products with drag & drop animated effects and motion graphics, engaging interactive experiences, and a sophisticated video editor. This solution is a good fit for media companies and advertising platforms that offer creative services.
  2. Templated: If you want to create a high-quality ad suite but lack the resources, we have ready-for-sale ad product templates to transform your playbook. We’ve analyzed countless ads to understand what kind of ad format and feature combinations are the most effective in driving results for different advertising use cases or verticals. That way, our team can build you a custom, premium playbook that reflects your expertise like first-party data or location services. This can be a good fit for media companies who want to package their inventory with creative services for sale to advertiser clients, but may lack the design resources needed to keep up. Large publishers that want to serve millions of impressions can also benefit from the efficiency and high-quality results of this approach.

To learn how Celtra can help you build, activate, and analyze premium ad products, visit our page or send us a note to get in touch. 

Interested to see what moves the needle with ad products? Download our Creative Insights Report: Second Edition filled with performance benchmarks and creative best practices to help you make data-informed decisions about your ad product suite. Here’s a sneak peek to get you started

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