2015-08-11 Andrius Grigorjevas

Programmatic creativity: some crazy thoughts on personalized content

My colleague Tomas showed me an interesting case published in Adage. It was about the personalized ads being served to users based on the type of predefined segment they belonged to.

My post is in direct reference to the case in Adage. The article subheadline that caught my attention went like this: “Brazilian Programmatic Creative Campaign Takes Customization To New Level”. If you haven’t seen the video clips, be sure to go through the Adage article before reading on.

The most interesting bit in the Adage article for me was this:

The campaign, launched last month, breaks the Axe target consumer into four segments, offering 25,000 permutations to each segment, or 100,000 in all. Working with research firm Box1824, CUBOCC segmented the target clusters — based on such factors as musical tastes, brands they identified with and other consumption preferences — into Artsy, Fresh, Naturals and Roots groups.

I have to admit, that apart from it being a publicity and an award winning gimmick, I don’t see any point in this kind of segmentation and personalization. But it does sound impressive. So, I accepted the challenge to think in what different ways the advertising content (or content in general) could become more adaptive and/or personalized.

surrounding context

So the first type of personalization is really common-sense. If I chose a specific content, the ad has to reflect that particular piece or type of content and naturally blends in or have connections to it.

So imagine you are reading a sports article and find that the ad in that section has direct link to sports theme. You navigate towards current news – the ad follows you, but mutates into something that connects to the news content.

This could go two ways: there could be ads that A) adapt to specific context and there could be ads that B) only appear in specific context. The B version would mean that advertising would be deployed only when you would have a matching context that would enrich the ads and not overshadow them. That would be a complete reversal of the common logic – the ads would wait for the perfect content to be published, just to appear in its context.

external context

The second type of personalization would be about something that happens in the real world that has a direct impact on the types of ads/content being served. I’m pretty sure that something has been done with weather (when current weather affects the ad narrative), but it could be so much more. Basically, anything that can have different outcomes in our physical world, could work as a trigger for the changes in the advertising content. Yes, the second example would sports.

This doesn’t mean we are talking real-time marketing. It’s not that you react to the events, quickly put up a composition with a witty phrase and publish it on twitter. Having the external context as a trigger would entail structuring all you content based on the possibilities of outcomes in the world.

user context

And the last is personalization dimension is the user itself – just like the AXE ads use data about the user to deploy a specific version of it’s ad. But we can think differently about user based personalization. AXE programmatic system uses historic user data that is amassed through time. What if the ads would react to the user behavior on page and would adapt the content to it. That would be something akin to the Alice in Wonderland world. Everything would shrink, expand and change based on the type of user behavior on a specific site. It would be like tailoring shopping experience not on the type of person that the shopper is, but on the type of shopping behavior that he exhibits.

Do you have more crazy ideas? Let me know what you think on facebook.


communication field and its problems never cease to amaze me - the truly brilliant thing is that there are no final answers. I don't understand anything, but I guess nobody does (there just a moderate degree of success in pretending that they do). If you have challenges, questions, topics, themes or projects - contact me and maybe we can crack them together. Andrius