Creative requires a rebrand, but start with giving it the respect it deserves

To save creativity in our industry, creatives need to all look beyond asset packs and tech specs.

Beckie Underwood, Azerion UK

Head of Studio


Digital brand advertising is about making people feel positively toward a brand and that means the creative needs to go beyond repurposing assets. The last two words any creative person in digital advertising wants to hear are ‘asset pack’. It means launching campaigns, for some, has become a process of just opening up the ‘pack’ and using technology, time pressures, and industry measurement as an excuse to produce uninspiring ads. This results in every ad and experience becoming the same and ergo forgotten. 

Digital is one of the most accountable ad mediums ever and creatives are continuously seeing more barriers being put in the way. Alongside countless KPI measurements and optimal CPMs, Google has bought in its heavy ad intervention. Now publishers are also penalised if they chop and change their pages too much to account for advertising – the Cumulative Layout Shift scoring. But all of this should be good for the industry right? Creatives mustn’t infuriate and irritate consumers because they won’t make money that way, and clients are entitled to make sure they’re getting good value for money. 

So much effort around accountability and gaining value for money goes into every single ad campaign, but these factors seem to skirt around the crucial element, the creative. Hence, creative isn’t being held accountable and clients aren’t getting good value for money. 

The last two words any creative person in digital advertising wants to hear are ‘asset pack'

Beckie Underwood, Head of Studio at Azerion UK

Just because the industry revolves around a certain technical criteria doesn’t give us an excuse to be boring and bland. Creatives need to get past the fact that there are plenty of programmatic templates out there and should do more interesting work within the said templates to get their client noticed and appreciated. There’s so much opportunity to make digital ads memorable, fun and useful whilst also playing by the rules.

You only get one chance to make a first impression

Programmatic or not, digital activity is quick to develop, enabling creatives to build and test new ideas. Digital creative can also include some of the best bits of other ad mediums such as storytelling with video or relevancy with location. What digital really should be doing is leading the way and informing the rest of the creative strategy across all ad platforms.

The first step to adding more creative to a campaign is to start with a kick-off call. This sadly gets skipped by some. The best ones will have the brand, creative and media agencies all in the same meeting. For digital creatives, it’s a chance to get under the skin of what the brand is about. Clients are hugely proud and passionate to represent their brands, but that never comes across in an asset pack. 

When asking what the objectives are, what they want people to know about the brand, creatives can then start asking whether it would be possible to approach it in a slightly different way and potentially get some new assets or create them. Ensuring they are making the most of the opportunity to talk with the consumer.  

At the very least, creatives should be creating unique and memorable digital experiences such as creating online showrooms for a car brand, or a personalised cocktail suggester like the one we built for Schweppes to use during festival season. Conversational ads are a great way to get consumers talking to a brand or having fun with a brand via gamification. For example, we’ve built a playable piano for Disney and their film Soul.

Within that first second of seeing an advert, the potential consumer has decided whether or not to give it a second glance. That first creative visual needs to go ‘bam’ and show them enough to make them lean in and pay attention. Creative has to have the power to create that reaction and if you're using pre-set templates and creative automation … well, it's unlikely to. 

To get more out of digital, fight against ad blindness and to save creativity in our industry, creatives need to all look beyond asset packs and tech specs.

Beckie Underwood, Head of Studio at Azerion UK

Being human in digital

Digital relies on measurement and creatives tailor ads so they can be measured by the brand’s technical partners because that’s what they need. But creatives need to remember a human being is experiencing these ads. 

Media teams should be able to look at their performance data for any of the ads they've produced and understand what the optimal environment, format or logo location is to achieve certain mathematical outcomes. Hence, rather than seeing them as restrictive, technology and data can be used to help improve creativity to achieve the best outcome. 

But if we only used this data, the ad could look unnatural. 

As well as looking at benchmark data, creatives could also consider asking the opinion of the audience they're trying to engage with. Getting opinions on initial designs to see if the correct sentiment, emotion and story is being understood can result in a positive and long-lasting effect on the client’s brand. 

There isn’t a perfect metric for creativity but apart from research, attention and interaction are about as good as it gets. We work with MOAT to measure both of these. If a consumer is looking at an advert for longer than the average ad and if they’re interacting with it in some way, such as playing a game, a trailer, or exploring the products then it is working well. 

To get more out of digital, fight against ad blindness and to save creativity in our industry, creatives need to all look beyond asset packs and tech specs. They’re fine as a starting point but the industry can do better than collectively rejigging what’s in the pack without any thought to how the experience can be enhanced. 

Brands need to allow digital creative teams to create, rather than just recreate. This means giving digital studio teams an opportunity to learn about their brand challenges and their aspirations, having the availability to talk beyond the asset pack. Digital studios should want to know more about each brief and pitch original ideas in order to create ads that are more creative and engaging than just playing it safe.

Guest Author

Beckie Underwood, Azerion UK

Head of Studio


As the Head of Azerion Ad Studio Beckie leads a team of creative talent producing hundreds of bespoke digital ad campaigns a year and regularly develops new formats keeping the industry on their toes. Nearly twenty years in the business Beckie is an expert in providing solutions to brand challenges with the knowledge and contacts to see ideas through to fruition. With regular award wins including ‘Most Innovative’, ‘Best Use of Creativity’ and ‘Best Branding Campaign’ Beckie’s team are widely acknowledged to be one of the best in the UK business. With so many distractions in digital, Beckie has a passion for bringing focus back on, for her, the most important part of any ad campaign, the creative.

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