How to avoid a DCO hangover?

By Milan Blazevic, Crimtan Director ANZ 

In the advertising industry, we like shiny new things. We especially love those new buzzwords associated with those shiny new things which we can then add to our ever-growing media word-cloud.

So, what’s hot right now?

You would be hard pressed not to find a strategic planning session where Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) isn’t floated as an idea worth exploring.

If there was ever a display advertising bible, the first commandment would be “thy shall say at least once a day, we are going to reach the right person, with the right message, at the right time”.

Now more than ever, DCO allows advertisers to deliver on that statement.

What is it exactly?

DCO is simply a personalisation ad technology that links the data an advertiser has on a user to the exact ad that the user will see. The creative can be tested by multiple variants (messages, images, CTA’s) and filtered back to best-performing segment.

Now we can say, “we are going to reach the right person, with the right message, at the right time, and learn what works best.

This all sounds great? So why isn’t everyone doing it?

DCO is quite simple to set up. The challenge I’ve seen advertisers struggle with is about implementing the right DCO strategy linked to a realistic outcome.

You can’t just take Usain Bolt off the race track and throw him on a football field and expect him to start scoring goals.

And it is the marketing outcomes that need to be understood and defined before any dynamic strategy can even be considered.

Here are four tips on how to avoid a DCO hangover

1.      Clearly define your objective.

Whether it is to drive new customer acquisition or increase ROI for key products?

These are all objectives, and you need to understand how the DCO strategy will link to them so to ensure those outcomes are met.

As beautiful, clever and relevant personalised ads can be, if you are using them solely for a retargeting strategy – and your cookie pool is tiny – then you’re not going to see the desired uplift in new customer acquisition.

Consider, do I need to drive new prospects to my site to expand my retargeting pool?

If that’s a yes, then create a new outcome.

Once you’ve implemented that, the logic around what personalised messages should be used becomes so much easier to define.

2.      You don’t be overly complex for the sake of it.

I’ve seen overly excited clients throw everything, including their kitchen sink, at my inbox for their first DCO campaign.

Thousands of rows of products, with hundreds of message variants to test, scale and learn from.

My response to them has always been the same. “What data do you have that make you think that these variants will work best?”

Usually, the response to that is, “well that’s what I am trying to find out”.

Wastage isn’t just media impressions delivered to the wrong audience, It’s also applying the wrong tactics without data to define it.

Take it slow. Test a few variants from what your analytical platform, media agency, and other research have told you about your audience. Why are you looking to test an elderly couple image and messages for a younger product without any data that the audience is even interested?

3.      Follow the customer journey.

When it comes to personalised creative, each iteration resonates differently for people across their purchase journey. Studying onsite behaviour can allow an advertiser to create unique customer journeys for different user groups.

Compare a low income, high aspiration user who adds multiple products to the cart but only purchases one, to a higher income user, who adds fewer products but purchase them all. Should you be communicating to them the same way?

Each user group has different values, and the creative strategy, frequency and media investment to reach that user should evolve accordingly.

4.      Every mistake is a learning opportunity.

You are going to make mistakes. And I am not talking about realising your feed isn’t working correctly, or that your landing page is broken.

DCO reports can be a double edge sword. The level of detail is more comprehensive than for standard creative. And because of that, you will may see instances when you missed out on new customers because the strategy and messaging wasn’t right. You could find that your lookalike audiences weren’t built to their full potential with the creative at hand. Or your brand campaign failed to capitalise on quartile video views with a relevant follow up message.

DCO has made it simpler for advertisers to be relevant and compelling. Plan, measure and execute your campaigns with your business goals in mind and you will certainly see the benefits.

This was first published on Milans LinkedIn page.