What Creatives can learn from Journalism’s 5Ws


It must be incredibly frustrating to be a creative director or brand manager in the age of programmatic marketing. Earlier this month, Ben Kartzman, CEO and co-founder of Spongecell, made that point when he wrote that Programmatic had left creative “in the cold.”I couldn’t agree with Ben more!

Collectively, the ad tech industry has spent tens of billions developing the plumbing to be able to decision, bid and deliver an ad impression in milliseconds. That’s important work, for sure.

But it is time to put all that technology to work to deliver the best creative message to each consumer once that impression is ready to be served. Only then will the full promise of Programmatic be fulfilled.

We at DataXu think this is possible today. In fact, people who develop creative for a living can now build concepts that will excel in Programmatic platforms if they think about how those platforms can harness that creative. One framework I find useful is a storytelling structure I learned during my first journalism course in college where I learned what a lede is and what it should contain–the five ‘W’s’ — the Who, What, Where, When, Why.

For identifying the Who—good platforms have analytics that can uncover personas, targetable attributes, and identify content affinities.

For determining the What—programmatic platforms with dynamic creative capabilities allow you to build as many different creative concepts as you see fit to communicate effectively with your consumers.

For deciding the Where and When—strong optimization and learning systems allow you to test various creative concepts, learn which each type of consumer responds best to, and then optimize spend toward the best performing concepts.

Journalism also stresses the importance of the one H – How. Programmatic platforms with dynamic creative capabilities allow you to further personalize and optimize down to every element within each creative concept to match to each consumer. If it’s raining in Rochester, show the rain jacket creative. If it’s snowing in Syracuse, show the parka.

You may be thinking at this point, “Hey, he forgot about the ‘Why.’” That’s easy. We want to provide you with the capabilities to better engage with each consumer with the best message, across any device, at the right time and place throughout their buying journey. The creative possibilities are now endless!

Next up: I’ll look in-depth at how to optimize creative ideation for programmatic platforms. In the meantime, if you want to know more about how we can help you with your five W’s, get in touch.