Ben Davis: Science won’t save crap creative


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When the hype around programmatic display advertising peaked early this decade, journalists and bloggers hit back with lots of articles about how marketing will never be an exact science.

Digiday’s Brian Morrissey& wrote: “The ads, we’ve been told for years, would become so relevant that they’d be ‘like content’. I don’t know any normal person unaffiliated with this industry who would believe this to be the case.”

‘Ad Contrarian’ blogger Bob Hoffmann& chipped in: “We certainly have more precise tests, and more precise data, and more precise measurements. We use the language, the methods, and the tools of science. But have we made advertising work better? Not that I can see.”

And perhaps most eloquently, Julia Kirby& wrote& in Harvard Business Review: “It would be easy to conclude that advertising has flipped to all science and no art. But then along comes fresh creative to show us what really sells.”

There have been many direct response campaigns that have been thoughtful (think The Economist or O2) and let’s not mention Trump’s election campaign, but the creatives were right &- targeting doesn’t mean much if you’re serving people crap. Users will tell you they don’t give a stuff about display advertising, whatever format it takes

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