By the time we go to bed, most of us have been exposed to thousands of ads throughout the day.
Whether scrolling Instagram, browsing an online store, or ordering food — we are living in a world inundated with imagery competing for our attention.
On TikTok alone, a whopping 1 billion videos are uploaded daily, shaping societal trends and influencing consumer behavior in as little as 15 seconds per video. And that’s just one platform.
Content creators are the big driver of massive conversions on social media because consumers relate to them. As consumers weed through the Internet (where roughly 3 billion images are uploaded daily), the most effective brands are following creators’ lead by sharing personalized and relatable creative.
More than ever, creative teams need to know exactly what their audiences want, in real time, to better create content. When I initially drafted this piece, I wrote that I believed a new era of the creative industry is just beginning — one where designers are empowered with data, insights and automation that allow them to work smarter and faster to break through the noise. Since then, those massive shifts have already begun with Generative AI, and I believe that the tools that will succeed will give designers and creators superpowers, not replace them.
The Unbundling of Design From the Desktop to the Cloud
Every place a person touches online, they’re touching a design. For the longest time, though, designers haven’t had tools that allow for truly data-driven decision-making. Teams working in sales, marketing, and product have tools to help understand campaign performance. Why are designers so often left out?
A main reason: the Adobe Creative Suite, which has been the tool of choice for designers for decades. With more than 22,000 employees and $11 billion in annual revenue, Adobe is a juggernaut of the creative world and provides everything a creative professional needs, from design inspiration to the actual creation, storage, and deployment capabilities.
Yet much of the Adobe Suite are desktop applications that make collaboration difficult and require specific technical skills to operate effectively. Adobe After Effects is a perfect example. Not only is the platform difficult to learn, but exporting projects to other designers on a team is also challenging, making the feedback and edit process cumbersome. Most importantly, every design sits on an individual computer; nothing is accessible through the cloud. That’s why so many in-house creative teams are treated like outsourced agencies: Marketers call upon their specialty skillsets only after an advertising campaign brief has already been decided.
In an effort to crack apart this rigidity, we’ve started to see the “unbundling of Adobe,” with hundreds of custom creative tools popping up to offer an alternative to Adobe and power rapid, personalized creative at scale. For instance, Canva, a cloud-based graphic design tool, has amassed 75 million users over the last decade. And Figma, who recently announced their planned acquisition by Adobe, which was released in 2016 as a browser-based design tool to help teams collaborate, is used by roughly 4 million people today.
The coupling of the increased growth of the creative tooling space and AI progress in recent months has only made this space more exciting. There is still a lot unknown of how Generative AI will continue to affect the creative suite, including things like legal rights, but as Sam Altman, CEO and Founder of OpenAI has echoed, he believes that it will be part of almost all technology that is being built and will be a sort of “AGI companion”. I believe that the next generation of creative tools will use elements of Generative AI to provide better quality at scale and fill labor gaps needed to produce the vast amount of content needed to properly reach different people.
What’s still missing? Until recently, the ability to couple data with design.
Data Gives Creative Teams a Fuller Picture
Successful personalized creative involves understanding what niche groups of consumers are searching for across multiple channels — social media, online video, web browsing — and then designing tailored, targeted advertising based on that data. Today’s consumer demands a wide range of diversity and wants to see people they can relate to. For example, yesterday’s marketers may have gotten away with only running separate ads targeting women and men — today, they must go much more granular. Anything short of that risks being overlooked, given that our average attention span online is less than seven seconds. A striking image that speaks to you directly can grab a better hold of the human mind, which processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text.
2 aspects of technology that have started to come into fruition are in the pre and post analytics of creative performance. Companies like Motion have arisen to provide a one-stop performance creative hub that shows designers every ad running, the amount of money spent deploying it, how ads perform in holding customers’ attention versus how they are driving conversion. The visual way of showing designers how ads performed helps creative strategists answer questions crucial to every ad campaign, bridging the barrier between business and creative teams. It allows designers to say: We know what draws the crowds, so bring us in at the beginning — not just after a new ad campaign has been thought up.
Some tools focused on pre-deployment predictive analytics include Vizit, an artificial intelligence tool that analyzes which visuals motivate customers to view and buy products, and Memorable, a startup with origins at Harvard and MIT that uses AI to predict ad performance and created automated improvements to assets.
When creative teams have the answers to which ads brought in what customers, they’re going to want to keep tabs on the ads that worked, what they still have rights to, and collaborate on versions. Enter Air, another start-up Headline is investing in. Air is not just a DAM, Air is the ultimate creative operating suite. It lets creatives easily collect and organize images and videos made across their portfolios as well as leave feedback, create boards, and store previous designs templates they know worked well at attracting new customers.
Creative is driving business, so it’s past time to empower designers with data and insights other teams are privy to. Content that breaks through to consumers is only possible if creatives understand the desires of their audience skillfully pairing analysis and design. The need to personalize digital advertising offers a huge opportunity for a new set of software tools to power a new era of online creativity. I’m excited to continue to invest in tools to supercharge the next generation of creatives. If you’re building something in the creative space, please email Taylor@headline.com.