April 10, 2024
April 10, 2024

The Evolution of Creatives in Programmatic Advertising

Dayna Lang

As advertising modes and societal behaviors evolve, so do programmatic ad creatives. The adaptation of content, comedy, and imagery of ad creatives keeps the industry on its toes and is necessary to keep audiences interested and engaged.

Advertising in the early 1900s was pretty straightforward, but by the end of the 20th century, radio, TV, and the internet had all had their turn transforming the media landscape. Simple, direct messages in news leaflets had become show sponsorships, commercials, and digital banners.

Where ads were once almost entirely without storytelling - today, creative, emotional narratives have become the center of good advertising. The "golden age of advertising" in the mid-20th century saw a boom in creative advertising and creativity remains pivotal to successful marketing.

Programmatic advertising demands strong, engaging creatives to capture audience attention and encourage engagement. Targeted, personalized ads have also become pillars of advertising in the 21st century, with digital technology fostering tailored media experiences. Ad creatives have come a long way since the start of the 20th century, and they will continue to evolve as societal interests and technology grow and change.

Content changes as societal behaviors change

As the decades passed, attitudes changed, and the creative content that made advertisements effective needed to change too. While the 1990s were marked by ironic humor and a sense of distance, the new millennium brought with it a digital revolution with hyper-targeted campaigns.

In the 90s, brands used a self-aware tone and poked fun at common advertising tropes to win over their customers' trust. Grunge was a heavy influence on imagery and the attitudes it brought to the public consciousness demanded authenticity.

Authenticity remained a common thread in programmatic advertising into the 2000s, with digital campaigns continuing to court their customers' trust. Digital ads, though new, were quick to catch on, using personalized experiences to build a sense of real connection.

This theme continues to this day. Authenticity became a cornerstone of the social media movement. With user-generated content being at the forefront, ads needed to look and feel like they came from a real person, too.

The 2010s became defined by social responsibility and brand authenticity, with purpose-based marketing becoming a pivotal part of ad strategies and social causes becoming brand issues.

One way that brands drove authenticity in all of these decades was through good storytelling. Emotional narratives and social resonation drove, and continue to drive, a sense of meaningful connection between brand and audience.

Now, in an age of AI, customers are craving authenticity more than ever. Advertisers turning to new, generative technologies to provide hyper-personalized content must remember that human connection is what makes creative successful. There are many ways that marketers can effectively leverage AI to make their jobs easier, but it's by embracing human creativity that advertisers can capture the authentic stories their audiences crave.

Ad creatives always have and always will be at the center of the advertising industry. They are the reason audiences gain interest and the means by which advertisers communicate.

This pathway between brand and consumer only remains open so long as ad creatives remain relevant to their medium and to the world they're situated in. In the case of modern programmatic advertising, that means leading with authentic human stories.

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