“Money and reach has never been the issue; it’s whether your company has the stomach to do it. That has always stopped innovation.”
— Nobles Crawford, Senior Media Planner at Reckitt on the Brand-Side Podcast
Digital transformation may be a buzzword we saw being thrown around in the 2000s across business media, internal presentations, and enterprise-wide initiatives. Today, most enterprises have transformed their daily operations to drive efficiencies, speed, and cost-savings with digital solutions. The same goes for marketing and advertising. From automated media buying through the onslaught of programmatic to social commerce, NFTs, and even the metaverse, digital permeates every aspect of marketing. Well, almost every aspect.
In 2020, automation touches most marketing processes–save from creative production. The art and science of designing and scaling creative and content have stayed fully manual.
Yet, manual production is too slow to satisfy today’s ever-growing content demands:
- Channels and formats keep multiplying
- E-commerce economy needs a high volume of creative to drive revenue
- Consumers crave more variety in brand storytelling
- Deploying global toolkits is complicated
- Localization is time-consuming and leads to duplicated production work in markets
- Every change requires production to start from scratch
Advertisers have begun to address the creative agility, variety, and speed challenge by building in-house teams and spending a collective $10 billion annually on production. However, adding manpower and money to creative production isn’t enough. Manual production has too much overhead, complexity, and room for error.
This is where brands need to turn to creative transformation to modernize and future-proof their creative workflows with automation.
Defining Creative Transformation
With Creative Automation, creative teams can shift away from repetitive manual production work that often leads to burnout and low morale. The three key areas of transformation are moving to templatized, modular production, automating the content scaling of sizes and formats for media plans or localization assets, bringing reviews and approvals to the cloud for brand governance, and feeding approved creatives directly into media buying platforms.
Let’s take a look at how transformation comes to play at each part of the process.
Ideation and Concepts
The old way: Bringing creative minds together to spend days or weeks brainstorming and sketching out ideas.
The creative transformation way: Nothing to transform here! While we’re big fans of technology and automation in all other areas of creative production, we believe that big ideas and beautiful design still requires the skill, craftsmanship, and brainpower of creative people.
The old way: creating each brand and campaign asset manually or outsourcing the design to an agency partner. When working manually, designers receive spreadsheets with specifications and have to build assets one by one. This limits the amount of variants marketers can test and run to drive results.
The creative transformation way: In cloud-based Creative Automation, designers both in-house and at partner agencies or production vendors can create approved brand assets as flexible templates that can be easily applied and reapplied to different needs and markets.
Automating Content Scaling and Asset Versioning for Media Plans
The old way: Once the in-house agency or the external creative agency of record has finalized the campaign look-feel, the agency or a third production shop will then manually create each and every size and format the media plan requires. This is slow, costly, and can leave room for error due to the high amount of manual building in production.
The creative transformation way: Both internal teams and agencies can easily scale the variants and sizes by turning to modular design templates. Creative algorithms identify the minimum layouts needed as a design source to auto-generate all the size variants. This saves time, energy, and money for designers and creative production teams. Each layer and element (think headlines, CTAs, background images, and so on) can be plugged into a content feed to automatically produce the variants and sizes needed. This typically saves up to 80% in production time, and you can go from weeks to just days with the help of software.
Cloud-Based Brand Governance and Creative Approvals
The old way: Ever gotten lost reviewing and resolving endless comments in PDFs or sifting through the design feedback in an email chain? Us too. That’s why the asynchronous back-and-forth needs to go in 2022 as it increases the room for design inconsistencies and slows down your go-to-market.
The creative transformation way: give feedback, add comments, and resolve them in the same place the creative assets are made in. When you move to cloud-based creative production, you can simultaneously review all produced assets, share preview links, and move away from messy email approvals. What’s more, being able to easily access all assets running in markets allows brands to have greater control over brand excellence and governance.
The Benefits of Creative Transformation
“Celtra’s software and solutions have helped us transform how Unilever brands and agencies create, activate, and re-use digital media and commerce assets across our markets. Moving from manual processes with fixed design to modular and automated digital creative production has made our workflow faster, our digital creative more effective whilst also driving cost-savings across the organization.” said Nathan Cook, Global Director of Brand Communications Excellence at Unilever.
Large marketing organizations like Unilever have turned to automation to transform their creative workflows and processes. The benefits are multifold:
- Large creative production projects are messy, hard to organize, and get more complex as they grow. By incorporating Creative Automation software, organizations can introduce a collaborative and flexible project structure that allows marketers to brief designers in the same place where they create.
- Eliminating team and vendor siloes: centralizing creative production helps previously disjointed teams both internally and externally collaborate better. Media teams have easier access to assets, markets can tweak approved brand templates for cultural relevance and transcreation, and agency teams can deliver the assets in real-time.
- Creative agility: brands can react to cultural events, business changes, and campaign performance in real-time, no longer slowed down by manual processes and tasks.
- New algorithms and machine learning that eliminates manual labor and reduces human error for creative production tasks that were never automated before.
- Significant time and cost savings. With Creative Automation, teams can produce, on average, 4-8x the content, 2-3x as fast, and spend 40% less time reviewing and approving creatives.
- Scaling creative insights to optimize marketing performance: since there isn’t a limit to how many variants you can create with automation, brands can test and run multiple design and storytelling approaches to understand what works for your audience.
How to Get Started with Creative Transformation
Tech stack: Assess your current creative and project management tech stack (design tools, digital asset management systems, Workfront, and so on), map out the main tasks and identify gaps within your existing system. Ask yourself: what parts of the process are slowing you down? What are you missing?
Identifying the right technology partner for creative transformation: Evaluate and shortlist providers based on the following criteria:
- Size, Scale, and Years in Business
- How many employees do they have? Can they support you globally? How long have they been in business?
- Point Solution or Product Suite
- Do I need to purchase one product or an entire suite? Product suite vendors may drive you to replace multiple elements of your tech stack to realize value; which often comes with long implementation times and more expensive contracts.
- Sales Process that Prioritizes Value Over Features
- Creative control and flexibility
- Channel support for creative production
- Operational efficiency
- Security and compliance
- Interoperability with existing creative and marketing technology investments
- Strategic value
If you’d like to discuss how Celtra can help your enterprise with Creative Transformation, get in touch with us today!
Stay creative and listen to an episode of our Brand-Side podcast, like A Spoonful of Magic w/ Dhiya Choudary or Breakthrough Creative Means Breaking Things w/ Abby McBeth.