For the past 30-plus years, and for a host of reasons, the age-old connection between creative and media has been severed. In the programmatic era, the focus has been dominantly on media, as though creative didn’t contribute to enticing consumer attention and engagement and driving media performance. The results have been dismal: The digital advertising industry is not in a great place, and consumer attitudes about advertising are depressing.

So it was with great excitement that Susan Bidel and I kicked off our Forrester Wave™ on the creative adtech vendor space several months ago. And it is with great pleasure that we share the fruits of our collective labor with today’s release of “The Forrester Wave™: Creative Ad Technologies, Q4 2018.”

Why do we think this tech is a big deal?

For B2C marketers — and their agencies — these technologies offer:

  • Better matching of creative to audience. Marketers are no longer constrained by the traditional production process; rather, they can iterate — almost endlessly — on creative options where their starting point is “What audiences do I plan to speak to?”
  • Faster speed-to-market with improved production efficiency. The creative process historically takes months to move unidirectionally from the “big idea” stage to the “media trafficking” stage, but now marketers/agencies can go from raw assets to live campaigns in a matter of weeks, with the added benefit of new creative insights along the way.
  • The seeds of coordinated media plus data decisioning beginning to take root. While several in the evaluated vendor set seem unconcerned with the idea that media optimization is happening concurrent to creative optimization, there are a few who are embracing this idea, whether through direct links (via consolidated stacks) or pursuing external integrations with programmatic media platforms. It’s a start, but not the end.
  • Centralized oversight and control. For global brands, managing creative consistency while respecting local nuance has been an ongoing challenge. Creative adtech tools are giving them the central hub needed to meet that issue, with centralized asset libraries, localization capabilities, and collaboration tools.

But we also found a market that is immature: Both the vendors and their clients are exploring what can and should be a creative renaissance. Much is still offered in a managed service capacity; cross-channel storytelling and decisioning at the person level is still the rare exception; and full inter/intra-agency and client collaboration is in its infancy.

Check out the full Wave report here to get the complete picture of how the evaluated vendors — all of whom had to offer proprietary creative adtech available as a standalone feature and support for, at minimum, desktop and mobile display — performed.