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What is Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO)?

Howard Lloyd
Sep 7, 2021

An Introduction to Dynamic Creative Optimisation for Marketers

One thing marketers are obsessed with is the notion of the right message, to the right person, at the right time. Media planners determine the right audience and environments, while creatives carefully craft messaging and design compelling ads to be served to people in those environments. At some point, marketers reach a tradeoff between specificity and scale. That is, you may have the ability to target 50 user segments, each with different behaviours and interests, but you may not have the budget (or time) to produce compelling ads that are customised to each of these audiences.

Enter dynamic creative optimisation (DCO). This is perhaps a term you have seen mentioned a few times but haven’t fully understood what it is or what it can mean for your marketing efforts. Let’s discuss what dynamic creative is and why it’s important to marketers.

What is DCO in advertising?

DCO is a tactic used in programmatic advertising that enables advertising creatives to be assembled, at scale, from a predetermined set of creative assets and test which versions perform best. 

Ads that are crafted via dynamic creative optimisation can be assembled in real-time and informed by data signals such as weather, geography, the context the ad is seen in, or the viewer’s web history. The production process is highly automated which means marketers can easily create relevant ads at scale and experiment to see what elements improve advertising performance.

Why is dynamic creative optimisation used?

Marketers use dynamic creative optimisation to create and test more relevant ads for various audiences faster and cheaper than traditional creative production methods (e.g. manually using design software). 

Let’s imagine for a moment that you work for a shoe brand. Your copywriters have crafted 15 different headlines for your upcoming campaign promoting the launch of your new shoe design. Owing to consumer tastes, you’ve produced these shoes in 5 colours. If you wanted to run each headline against each shoe colour to determine which drives the most sales, you would need to produce 15 x 5 = 75 different ads. Already, the problem of scale has reared its head, and we’re not done yet.

You also want to test the impact that product setting has on sales. Do you show the shoes on someone’s feet, sitting freshly on top of the box they came in, on a shelf in the store, or superimposed on top of a colourful background? That’s another four dimensions, so we’re already at 15 x 5 x 4 = 300 ad variations that need to be produced. This is getting expensive quickly!

Finally, let’s say that you also wanted to test the difference in conversion rates between “Buy Now” and “Find out more” as a call-to-action, which brings us to our final amount of 15 x 5 x 4 x 2 = 600 variations. It’s going to require a lot of time and money to produce all those ads, hence the tradeoff between specificity and scale I spoke about earlier. Typically, marketers cut down the number of the headlines to perhaps two or three, opt to try just two backgrounds, and may only showcase three colours of shoes rather than all five. Very quickly, compromises are being made at the expense of creative effectiveness. 

How do the data-driven marketers among us who want to run a perfect test with all 600 variants do it? Dynamic creative optimisation. DCO technology lets marketers automate creative production so they don’t have to choose which creative elements they want to test. Rather, they get to test them all and see which works best.

For steps to scale your creative management for all those variants without the hassle, check out 3 Steps to Scale Your Creative with a CMP.

DCO vs. Dynamic creative: What’s the difference? Enter optimisation.

Dynamic creative and DCO are frequently used interchangeably, but they are distinct tools that both bring value to your marketing efforts. Dynamic creative describes any ad creative that is assembled via automation while dynamic creative optimisation goes further to include the process of testing to identify optimisations to make to that creative in response to how it’s performing mid-flight.

For example, an ad for a hotel brand that shows the skyline of the city based on where the ad is viewed is dynamic creative. Changing the call-to-action mid-flight in that ad as you gather data over time about what words result in the most conversions is dynamic creative optimisation.

What are examples of dynamic creative and DCO? 

While many marketers commonly associate dynamic creative and DCO with lower funnel remarketing ads, both can be used throughout the entire marketing funnel. For example, you can use dynamic creative or DCO to:

  • Quickly assemble complete video ads geared towards awareness from a series of clips and test which order you should put those clips in to drive the best performance (DCO)
  • Add today’s exchange rate between US dollars and British pounds into an ad for a foreign currency exchange company (dynamic creative)
  • Swap out backgrounds in your ads depending on the weather in the zip code the ad is served in and only show ads when performance is best (DCO)
  • Show flight prices from the closest airport to the viewer of an ad and a location that was recently searched (dynamic creative)
  • Update a headline to reference time of day and test when to show ads when performance is best (DCO)

How does approach dynamic creative optimisation?

Using our intelligent automation tools, marketers never have to compromise specificity for scale again. Why settle for three headlines when you can test all fifteen? By partnering with you can produce, launch, and start tracking the impact of your marketing 78% quicker, with 59% lower cost, than you would through traditional methods.

Savvy marketers want to ensure that their ads stay on brand as they automate and scale their marketing. Check out how we utilise fixed and flexible creative elements in advanced dynamic templates to ensure strict adherence to your brand guidelines, while testing powerful new marketing strategies in this article

The benefits I listed are just a taste of what marketers can achieve utilising dynamic creative. Interested in learning more? See how our clients are cutting their existing creative production timelines by 85% using dynamic creative or better yet, get in touch

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