It is a recurring theme with display advertising: technology is a dark art and the true maker of a campaign. I have struggled with this notion for years, despite running online marketing technology companies since the late nineties; and throughout that time, I have been quite vocal about it.

I shall say it again: for display, online marketing technology is of little consequence without the right creative concept to deliver.

Successful internet technology businesses can realise big-number exits for their shareholders, but these exits don’t happen unless the tech is special enough to enjoy sizeable adoption. As competition within the tech arena becomes tougher and tougher bold claims are needed and there are plenty out there.

As an industry, we are now pitching to a considerably more sophisticated and intolerant consumer than before; it is risky out there for brands – the post-Web 2.0 world lets consumers bite back through social channels; gone is a brand’s ability to shout its rhetoric unchallenged.

Engagement and targeting

Relevance is where things should happen in the engagement side of online marketing today; relevance to a target consumer group should be the starting point for all creative and from there, technology can be selected. Fortunately, there is great technology out there.

What does it mean to blend creative and technology? At the simplest level, technology allows for a piece of creative to deliver interactive functionally. The ‘click’ has been a key measurement in online marketing for years; starting as a mechanism for sending a user from banner ad to advertiser’s site.

Today the click can be so much more, opening up a plethora of retargeting opportunities for creative stages to exploit and stimulating the delivery of dynamic content to build on the initial stages of engagement. Sounds complex; it does not have to be.

The ability to ‘hook’ a user should not be ignored during the creative build process. Experienced agencies get this, but it still amazes me how many creative executions appear through my business today where even the most obvious opportunity to engage a user beyond the original creative element is missed.

Video at the epicentre

Take video-based branded content: now moving centrally within the marketing mix as brands explore how to engage and retain an audience. Typically a video component sits at the heart of the campaign creative, but then what?

Invariably a brand will have creative assets that are available for repurposing – microsite content for example. Why not integrate relevant aspects of these into the experience via interactive functionality?

Not only does technology allow the brand to capture the ‘engaged’ user for targeting and retargeting across the web further down the line, it provides a simple but powerful interactive canvas upon which the experience for all the stakeholders can be considerably more powerful.

Much of this dynamic is about education, but at a basic level there is a good chance that ‘technology’ can deliver at least most of the aspirations a creative team may have. If we can encourage creative agencies to challenge the capabilities of the available tech solutions and learn to push thus extending the boundaries of these, a much better blend of tech and creative will emerge.