Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How to simplify the ad workflow

By Lolly Mason, Peach, EMEA Partnership Lead

Automation and workflow efficiencies are meant to be some of digital’s big USPs – but did broadcast pip us past the post when it comes to creative workflow efficiency?

Across two decades of working in digital advertising, with its evolutions, iterations, and occasional peccadillos, two truths always seemed quite apparent:

One being that creative processes – ideation / production / post – have been weirdly separated from the digital ecosystem, meaning us digital folk have often been left hunting around for creative scraps (whatever assets we could get our hands on) to try and knock together some sort of reasonable device-appropriate creative, and often just as our campaigns were due to go live. The resulting ads looked… well, as you’d expect, and not really doing justice to either advertiser or media owner – an issue that can be particularly obvious with digital video where viewers aren’t too pleased to see their content interrupted by pixelated or buffering ads.  

The second, more positive truth being that workflows have always been ‘our thing’. Although not necessarily perfect, in digital, we were the kings and queens of automation and workflow efficiency – winning against ‘old school’ traditional media with our splendid ad trading platforms, audience targeting, connected ecosystems, data integrations, and so on. We could call this our big USP.

Against this background, I had a bit of a face palm moment when realising that a glaring omission in digital’s big USP has been a major contributor to digital’s big pain in the rear for all these years – and that the issue had been solved in broadcast decades ago! Thankfully, this gap in the ecosystem is now being addressed.

Mind the gap

There have been lively discussions at digital summits and conferences on how the industry can build better communication and engagement with creative agencies to get the best quality creatives over into digital, and in the right formats. Until quite recently however, efforts hadn’t been made to coherently connect the digital ecosystem directly into creative agency workflows.

Connecting creative into digital

So why integrate creative workflows into digital? What’s wrong with managing these processes by email, phone chase ups, and ad hoc file transfers anyway? 

Digital video in particular is hampered by numerous behind-the-scenes workflow challenges that make the distribution of creative from agency to consumer a far from simple process. These challenges relate to file sourcing, distribution, formatting, and stakeholder communication workflows.

Research from Colab in June 2020 identified critical issues that can have a profound impact on video creative workflows across the media landscape. 70% of media buyers reported that sourcing creative can be frustrating, with 85% of agencies saying they must manually determine that correct creative assets have been submitted (what could possibly go wrong here?!). The research also reported that 78% of agencies feel they’re spending excess time managing updates back and forth via email and perhaps not surprisingly, three quarters said the resulting delays to campaign launch dates are costing their businesses money.

This complexity in workflow means 76% of media platform users must log in to a whopping 2 to 5 systems for each campaign. Not only is this time consuming, but it also makes it nearly impossible to get a consolidated view of creative delivery and makes errors in creative file delivery a real likelihood.

In 2020, 41% of video ads were unfulfilled or failed to start and unfortunately agencies have limited visibility on the causes of these technical fails and yet often shoulder the burden.  

Supporting media and creative agencies to streamline and organise these workflows while increasing transparency among stakeholders brings significant improvement, ensuring that quality-controlled files, transcoded correctly for all destinations and formats on a media plan, can be delivered correctly first time, speeding up campaign activation, and mitigating against the cost of campaign delays and loading failures.

Seamless Integration with Amazon’s Sizmek Ad Suite

It is with these issues in mind, that Peach launched into digital earlier in the year – bringing the creative and distribution workflow tools that have become essential and used as standard by creative agencies, post-houses, media agencies, and broadcasters to ensure perfect creative delivery in broadcast media for so many years. 

As part of this launch, Peach recently announced an integration with Amazon’s Sizmek Ad Suite which takes place as part of a series of upcoming integrations to ad servers and other ‘mission critical’ platforms and media companies – including recent launches with Google Campaign Manager and YouTube and several further integrations in development.

The Sizmek Ad Suite integration supports brands and media agencies to seamlessly bridge that gap between sourcing correct and cleared creative assets right through to setting up and managing their digital campaigns. automatic asset and data delivery to the relevant creative library in Sizmek, without the need to upload and download files, and always with in-built audit trail and transparency.

The Future of Automation

By connecting the creative ‘from source’ – creative and post agencies – into the digital ecosystem we can ensure the best quality creatives make their way into digital and in an easy and automated way, planned from inception. 

Digital plans will almost always have some portion of activity that runs from a brand or media agency’s favoured ad server, so automating creative delivery to these platforms as a first step can take much drama and time out of processes that can be streamlined and standardised. As linear and digital video converge, it’s exciting to see how each medium can learn from the other.

When it comes to solving creative distribution and activation issues, broadcast turns out to have a few lessons for digital in workflow automation (who would have thought it?!) but thankfully broadcast is ‘happy to share’ and Peach will be continuing to innovate, invest and evolve for convergent video to support the wider creative and ad industry to deliver its best work.