Thursday, October 7, 2010

Creative and tech working together: 3 case studies By Penny Baldwin

Article Highlights:

  • Paramount and DreamWorks leveraged a technologically sophisticated mobile ad unit that morphs a traditional banner into an animated image of Shrek
  • Best Buy used real-time pulse measurement to make banner ad copy more directly reflect consumer interests
  • Uniqlo used a blog widget and bookmark to transform pictures and banner images from any website into "lucky tickets"

Our industry needs to acknowledge the game-changing influence that technology has on the creative process, an intersection that constantly plays into our thinking at Yahoo. The partnership of the two worlds can make a good campaign great, and enables it to stand out in the minds of consumers. While the potential for technology to transform the creative process is improving on a daily basis, one immutable truth remains constant: All of us who play in the worlds of technology and creativity need to put a high premium on collaboration to maximize the effectiveness of online campaigns.

Invariably, when technologists and creatives work together, they produce a better, more impactful end product that excites and resonates with target audiences. Three recent campaigns by leading brands offer specific, adoptable insights into the ways that technologists and creatives can make beautiful music together: Paramount and DreamWorks Animation for their recently launched mobile advertising campaign for "Shrek Forever After"; Best Buy, with its innovative use of consumer data culled from Twitter to shift ad content in real-time; and Uniqlo's Thanks and Return campaign. Here's what we can learn from these three campaigns:

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Come together early on in the campaign conceptualization process
Realizing that they needed a promotional campaign that would help a 3-D animated film come alive on the mobile platform in the same way it does on the screen, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation sought to develop a mobile campaign that was technologically advanced enough to capture the creativity of the content. At the very onset of the campaign development process, Paramount and DreamWorks turned to its online advertising partner to create a new class of interactive advertising, using technology to create a compelling, engaging, and creative mobile ad that would make a strong emotional connection with their audiences. The result was a technologically sophisticated mobile ad unit in which a traditional banner ad morphs into an animated image of Shrek, commanding the user's attention.

Use data, insights and new technologies to enhance the experience
When Best Buy's development team recognized that consumers' Best Buy-related tweets could be utilized in the implementation of more relevant, engaging advertising content, they turned to their marketing team for an innovative solution. Together, these teams worked to develop creative that would feed consumers information about the products in which they were most interested. Best Buy's marketing team, with the support of its development team, was able to adjust banner ad copy to reflect consumer interests, through what was dubbed "real-time pulse measurement." The end result was advertising geared specifically toward consumers' interest, based on data culled from Twitter. The campaign even geo-targeted consumers in specific areas with information about popular products in that area.

Look toward creating experiences with long-term staying power
In seeking a non-traditional online campaign that would promote its Thanks and Return 2009 end-of-the-year sale, fashion retailer Uniqlo recognized that its online fan base could serve as a vehicle for maximizing the campaign's effectiveness. The brand developed a never-before-seen banner ad concept that would let its consumers handle the serving, developing an ad called The Lucky Switch. This was a blog widget and bookmark that would transform the pictures and banner images from any website into "lucky tickets," promoting the campaign and providing consumers with the chance to win prizes. In a single month, more than 4,500 blogs had installed The Lucky Switch, and more than 2.8 million consumers had clicked one of the resulting ads. Perhaps more importantly, Uniqlo increased its appeal with its web-savvy target audience for the long-term through this innovative campaign that gave consumers an increased level of brand ownership.

As these examples demonstrate, our goal should always be to create campaigns that are equal parts art and science, which can achieve extraordinary results for marketers -- especially when combined with appropriate scale. It's a mindset of integration and collaboration that has become critical to the success of developing stand-out online campaigns. Understanding technology is crucial to the creative role. And the challenge for technologists will be to think like storytellers, understanding how to create lasting, emotional connections with audiences through new formats that facilitate and advance the creative process. Working together and finding the right mix of science, art, and scale will help us to re-imagine how we approach creativity, and will revolutionize what is possible for the creative community online.

Penny Baldwin is senior vice president of integrated marketing and brand management at Yahoo.

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