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outlook_iphoneI am inspired by an article appearing in the September 15 edition of AdAge that defined the problem with all of our attention on making mobile advertising “efficient, effective, and affordable.” What ever happened to “beautiful” and “compelling?”

We see dozens of articles daily about how Adblock Plus — just one of many digital ad-blocking technologies — is being used on more than 100 million devices, aiming to limit the clutter and show “acceptable ads.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/19/business/media/adblock-plus-created-to-protect-users-from-ads-opens-the-door.html

We have new terms like Real-Time Bidding or RTB, or Programmatic Advertising, new marketing practices that are working to target customers — with surgical precision — by products they have purchased (online or even offline), websites they have visited, media they view or watch, and even geographic position.

Rapid developments in advertising technology will continue as basic functions continue to automate. We will see further refinement of exchanges for the inventory of space, ad buyer, audience, message, and budget dollar — all using new algorithms. Just this week, Facebook announced that retailers are now able to place ads on the site that will only appear if the product is in-stock:

http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/retailers-can-now-buy-facebook-ads-only-run-if-right-products-are-stock-173594

In an effort to fix the conundrum of Internet advertising gone awry, a consortium of nonprofits like ANA, 4A’s, and corporate partners including Google, The Washington Post, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, and others all formed The Coalition for Better Ads.

http://adage.com/article/digital/google-p-g-coalition-police-web-ad-standards/305875/

Will it all be too much for consumers? One thing seems clear as we step even further into the confusing, weeded marsh of evolving digital communications: Technology will continue to empower advertisers with a more efficient media spend through better data, analytics, and real-time bidding capabilities.

http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/marketers-are-getting-snapchat-targeting-data-they-want-will-scare-users-173476

As I read a dozen or so articles each day about emerging technologies in adtech, it is, however, apparent that technology has outpaced our ability to deliver exceptional, thoughtfully-crafted experiences for customers — or “users” — a digital term that I sometimes find a little offensive. (Can’t we just agree to call it HX, or Human-Experience?)

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With all the progress in digital platforms intended to serve targeted “appropriate” advertising to customers on mobile devices, left behind is a focus on the excellence of design, a responsibility of marketers and the creative community.

In her article, Alia Lamborghini (Senior VP-Product Sales and Strategy at AOL) suggested, “Without something interesting to look at, all the targeting in the world is useless — we need to give our advertising clients the ability to test bespoke units and formats.”

http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/brands-budget-beautiful-creative-mobile/305864/

Ms. Lamborghini continues, “We have created the monster that is ad blocking, and intrusive, non-relevant ads continue to feed the beast. It’s time for us to focus on innovation that puts consumers first. We are visual creatures and imagery is critical to inspiring a desire to purchase a product or complete an action.”

It’s so true. There seems a consensus among industry professionals and consumers alike that the visual and creative expression of brands and advertising has been left unattended. For all its bells and whistles and gee-whiz data magic, adtech has produced an abundance of disposable, uninspired “assault-style” messages and ads.

As a creative strategist for the last 25+ years, I know for a fact that the highest level of art and inspiration in advertising will never be delivered via algorithm. There’s always a human component that imagines that awe-inspiring idea, the surprise and sense of unpredictability — a nuanced photo and headline — that visual element that hooks us and delights us and defies explanation. It just simply fits the brand and feels right, and manages to provoke thought, or infuse us with powerful feelings. And the pairing with adtech can actually be an incredible, perfect marriage that creates experiences that customers crave.

As Ms. Lamborghini concludes, “We have been given access to a whole new world of creative with mobile and video, and we have the opportunity to do some serious beautification and create authentic experiences through ads.”

“With testing, data, and a recommitment to beauty in creative, we can build better experiences and begin to re-establish the trust between brands, advertisers, and consumers.”

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The best content marketing engages us and inspires us in unique, sometimes unpredictable ways with relevant, emotional and intellectual benefits. Similarly, the best advertising seeks to strike an authentic chord and resonate with its audiences in memorable ways to make a lasting impression. Shown here are just a few examples of thought leadership content, presented with an unusual approach to business imagery.

It’s about more than just a call-to-action. Does your current mobile advertising or integrated campaign achieve that enviable level of “high-art?” Does the design, art, and accompanying copy truly define your brand image, and engage and inspire readers?

Challenge me to do better. I have a long history of creating experiences that are artful, compelling — and strategically on-brand, on-message, and on-budget. I can bring brand stories to life in fresh, unexpected and beautiful ways.

If you would like to improve your brand creative, let my team show a presentation of integrated content marketing or creative campaign ideas. Email me at dflinchum@ir77.com.