What exactly is a dynamic creative?
Have you ever thought how incredible it would be if you could update your HTML5 banner campaign without re-trafficking it? Or if you could have your creative display real-time info or react to events? If you have, you’ve been dreaming of a dynamic campaign! (You’re not alone – we dream about them too!)
We absolutely love love love dynamic campaigns! They are the most flexible and long-lasting way to produce a banner campaign and get every last bit out of your hard-earned digital assets. In a dynamic campaign, the text, images, price points, legals – EVERYTHING – is controlled by a Google spreadsheet and can be switched at a moment’s notice.
If it sounds high-tech, that’s because it is. And like anything high-tech or complex, dynamic campaigns require a bit of extra thought, planning, and money to get started. Their versatility and longevity, however, make them more than worthwhile!
Concepting Dynamic Campaigns
When you are concepting a dynamic campaign, it is easy to underestimate how flexible they can be. By losing track of the campaign’s flexibility, you might create a design that is too rigid and breaks with even the slightest change. For example, banner ads are often designed around an background image. The copy and animation for the banner are specifically formulated to move around and fit within the confines of that specific image. In a dynamic campaign, on the other hand, the image and copy are meant—and even expected—to change! When a new image is introduced, you might find that the text becomes illegible, or blocks some important aspect of the new background image.
To avoid this pitfall, it is important to select assets and designs that work in a number of different layouts. This will allow your banners to “adapt” when new assets are introduced.
Basic Logic of Dynamic Banners
Something to keep in mind is that dynamic campaigns don’t easily allow for spur-of-the-moment additions to animation. That is, the base of a dynamic campaign stays consistent, even while the assets, images, text, etc change. For example, let’s say you have a banner with the internal logic below:
- Frame 1
- Image1 fades in
- text1 fades in
- Frame 2
- text1 fades out
- text2 fades in
- cta fades in
When you make the above banner dynamic, you can change the text, the CTA, the images, but the basic logic (frame1 – text and frame2 – cta) will generally stay the same across the entire campaign.
The Animation Agreement
In order to make sure the animation is appropriate for every version of the ad, we recommend testing the animations early in the project. We call this an ‘animation first’ design. Just as with the copy and image selection, the animation needs to be planned for the shortest and longest copy iterations and it’s interaction planned.
There are, however, times when a dynamic campaign can be designed to have an alternative ‘base animation set’ – meaning another movement pattern that can be switched on and off during the time the campaign is live. This could also extend to increasing the frames of an ad from 4 to 6. The catch with this option is that the alternative animation or extra frames still need to be planned for at the beginning of the campaign. That is, the option of increasing the number of frames must be planned before the banners are trafficked.
Imagine the Imagery
It goes without saying that just as you should carefully plan your text and copy allowances, you should choose the images you want to include in your dynamic campaign with the ‘big picture’ in mind. Text can often get lost on a background image that is too busy or an inappropriately coloured for certain text to remain legible. Since the text and image can and will change multiple times, what is there to do?!
Well, there’s the obvious—you can start getting sign off and approval from all creatives and shareholders for images as early as possible. This will allow you to test the images with all the copy styles and lengths that will be in the creative to ensure legibility and that it gives the desired visual effect.
Of course, while this is the easiest, most foolproof way to ensure you don’t stumble on any legibility or layout issues, it’s not always that simple. Images and backgrounds often change, opinions vary, and let’s face it, we’ve all been in the last-minute-swap-this-for-that boat. One of the great things about dynamic campaigns is that you’ve got full control over your creative, including assets you can turn on and off when they are needed.
One way we suggest working around a difficult background is a moveable shadow block on background images. Like everything else, this block must be moveable and expandable as necessary. It does add another asset to coordinate when updating or changing the dynamic creative but if it can make your text pop and your message easily read and understood, it might be worth considering!
The imagery for these Lotto Max units had to be planned especially carefully as they feature different numbers, based on the amount for the lottery draw that week in any given province—that’s right, these were Canada-wide!—not to mention the possibility of having a max millions!
No matter what design style you choose, we always suggest a good round of stress testing before you release your dynamic banners into the wild. Trying a myriad of background images with different copy variations and text lengths could save you some scrambling, if you discover a certain pairing doesn’t work out when combined together. Though you’ve no doubt planned and planned up until this stage, there’s always inevitably something that will need to be addressed. This is also a good time to get the approval of all shareholders, managers, and directors as they’ll be able to see all iterations of the dynamic creatives before they go live. And of course, it’s the best time to make sure that you, or whoever is in charge of maintaining the campaign, knows exactly how to update all aspects of the creative.