Can You Teach Creativity?

Creativity is one of these words that gets thrown around a lot in the advertising sphere. As an agency, we advise our clients to be innovative and creative with their ad formats, messaging, and imagry to better attract consumers.

But what does “be creative” actually mean? Is creativity something that can be taught?

Well, let’s start from the beginning…

What is creativity?

Ultimately, creativity is subjective – it can mean different things to different people. Some define it as a characteristic that allows a person to ‘think outside the box’. Others define it as an activity where something new and valuable is formed. According to Stanford University professor, Tina Seeling, there are six characteristics that are shared by people who are viewed as traditionally creative.

  1. Imagination – thinking beyond boundaries
  2. Knowledge – your creativity toolbox
  3. Attitude – the confidence to solve a problem
  4. Environment – your stage
  5. Resources – outside of money: people, community etc.
  6. Culture – they ways in which your culture celebrates or punishes experimentation

Is it Possible to Learn creativity?

Brands often pay lip service to the idea that they are surrounded with creative people, yet, when you look around, there is a strong level of pushback towards brands for getting the message wrong, like Pepsi’s recent gaffe for producing a completely tone-deaf, offensive ad featuring socialite celeb, Kylie Jenner.

While personality, environment, and other factors all play into the limits of one’s initial level of creativity, brands can still nurture the trait in their organisations and teach people to think outside the proverbial box.

Benefits of Creativity

  • Problem-solving: Creativity teaches you to think in new and innovative ways, improving your problem-solving skills. It forces you to be resourceful, and investigate new solutions to old problems.
  • Creativity is disruptive: It challenges the way you think, shakes things up, and forces you out of your comfort zone. Creativity is the enemy of complacency, and complacency is the harbinger of brand death. Any brand that wants to stay ahead of the competition needs to stay creative. So stop what you’re doing, and bring on the big ideas.
  • Builds Better Relationships: Creative environments increase internal morale and engagement. To produce all those great things for your clients, you need to have an engaged, excited, and motivated team. Brands that foster creativity see an uptick in internal collaboration, resulting in higher levels of productivity, and retention. The ability to see things in new ways enhances product and consumer understanding and creates a better overall workspace. Creativity also builds better external relationships; thinking creatively allows you to see things you might normally miss, and also get inside the customer’s perspective.
  • Stand Out: If you can nurture creativity, it can propel you past the competition with minimal effort. Employees enjoy the opportunity to express their creativity. In addition, positive experiences from your creative endeavours will speak volumes for your brand. It will keep you at the forefront of client and consumer minds – and also do the heavy lifting for you. A clever campaign that stands out is far better for brand awareness and recognition than several mediocre, safe campaigns that have been repeatedly parroted.

The are many benefits to fostering creativity. These are just the tip of the iceberg, but they are good examples of how cultivating creativity can help brands, both internally and externally.

How can brands be more creative?

So now that we know you can teach creativity, how do we do it?

Old Foundations, New Twist
You can build on ideas already out there – this isn’t like repeating the same tired trope ad nauseam. Everything that’s new and trendy now once stemmed from an original source with an added twist. Collaborate with your team to find that twist and go from there.

Changing of the Guard
Bring in people from teams and departments you normally wouldn’t consider for a particular campaign. You don’t need to look externally for ‘a new pair of eyes’, they’re already in your office, just sitting on other teams. Shake it up, change it up. Ask the questions people want to ask but are afraid to, challenge your co-workers to get outside their comfort zones, and provide a culture and environment where creativity is welcomed, not shot down.

Mistakes = Creative Take-Aways

Finally, remember, as clichéd as it might sound, embrace failures as learning experiences. See them as sign posts to point your brand in the right direction. If you didn’t fail, you’d never see the path you were intended to take. Failure can set you on the right path by challenging assumptions and forcing you to think creatively to come up with a better solution. It can help your brand grow by taking a negative result or experience and turning it into a positive. Build on mistakes as a better way to do things.


This is not an overnight fix, this is something that needs to become a core part of your company culture in order to inspire the change needed to build and sustain a creative environment.

In times of  uncertainty, with Brexit, brand safety , privacy concerns, and other issues looming over marketers, standing apart from the competition is vital. It may seem safer to stick with what you know, but being risk averse is not an effective strategy. Creativity forces you to evolve, and always stay one step ahead. If your safety net disappears, you will, at the very least, have the tools to rebuild and adapt quickly. Creativity won’t just help you survive, it will help you thrive.

 

 

#5MinuteDigital: 5 Minutes, 5 Questions, All Digital with Craig Trower

Current Occupation?
Senior Business Development Executive.

Favourite thing about digital marketing?
I’m fascinated by the potential size of the audience, and the ability to measure your work in real time. It is also a growing sector, the world becomes more digital everyday.

Favourite aspect of your job?
As it is the beginning of a new career for me, being a sponge and learning a new industry.

Why did you choose NMPi?
It’s an ambitious company with lots of scope for the future

What projects are you working on now?
Gaining springs to my digital bow, learning, and passing it onto prospects

NMPi Garners Two Nominations for Drum Digital Trading Awards

We’re gearing up to have a really great year with yet another two nominations. We’ve shortlisted for Most Effective Media Agency and Best Use of Creativity (for Autodesk’s video banner campaign) at the 2017 Drum Digital Trading Awards. The Digital Trading Awards recognize the best talent in automated digital trading, with this year’s theme Living the Dream – Programmatic Everywhere, taking a closer look at how the industry has been doing programmatic. This is the fourth year for the Digital Trading Awards, and the 13th award nomination this year for NMPi.

NMPi says “G’Day” from Sydney

170407_NMPI_1515

NMPi is thrilled to announce the official launch of our third international office in Sydney, Australia. This expansion comes hot on the heels of our recent openings in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

“We have big plans for growth this year,” stated Luke Judge, NMPi’s Managing Director. “We see the opening of the Australian office as the next key step in our global expansion.”

“The digital industry in Australia is adapting and moving forward at an astonishing rate,” commented Damien Bennett, Director of Business Strategy. “Extending NMPi into Australia will enable us to provide even greater localised activity for our clients.”

We’re also pleased to be partnering with global digital agency, Clicks2Customers, who will be rebranding their digital advertising solutions under the NMPi banner. Our Australian team will be led by former Googler, and current Managing Director of Australia, Sam Shennan. Sam has over 10 years digital experience and has partnered with some of the region’s leading brands including Westfield, Woolworths, and TopShop.

Shennan is looking forward to this collaboration, saying, “This development is great news for our clients. The combination of NMPi’s digital media expertise and granular approach and our 14 years as an award-winning global digital agency offers our clients robust solutions that cover all their digital needs.”

In little less than two months after opening our NMPi Switzerland office, we now have NMPi Australia. Our expansion plans haven’t stopped here, we expect to continue our global diversification!

Online Dating: Should Advertisers Take Notice?

Apps like Tinder have made online dating the norm for today’s young professionals. What used to be seen as awkward, and only for those who couldn’t find a date on their own, is now the accepted dating standard. It appears unusual to find a single Millennial who doesn’t have an account on at least one dating app.

But what is it about dating apps that should have advertisers paying attention?

For one, they’re slowly creeping into advertising territory that’s currently monopolised by platforms like Facebook and Google. Advertisers and dating apps are now “swiping right” together, with apps like Tinder offering programmatic advertising solutions, and partnering with social media channels to gain access to their extensive databases and seamless native ads. Soon we’ll be seeing ads akin to this: No luck today swiping for love? Perk yourself up with a new hair colour or teeth whiteners to boost your chances of a match next time around.

Tinder’s foray into programmatic is enticing to advertisers due to the brand’s recognizability, global reach, and high levels of engagement. Since many users register using their Facebook accounts, the platform is a rich data mine for advertisers looking to corner the Millennial market, as 74% of users fall into this bracket. Advertisers don’t need to chase users for information because they happily provide their personal details in order to get the most out of the app. The more data you provide, the better your chances of a match. Just think of the custom audiences that can be built with all that data, or the accuracy of look-a-likes, targeting users as they swipe with creatives for perfumes, hair dyes, toiletries, and clothing.

Porsche's Valentine's Day Tinder Ad

Porsche’s Valentine’s Day Tinder Ad

In addition to commonly used data, like age, gender, income, location, and education, dating sites also give advertisers the chance to target based on highly sought after information, such as: favourite movies, TV shows, religion, body type, political views, and something as finite as whether they’re a “drinker” or “non-drinker”. Tinder has also recently stretched its search parameters to include gender identities outside of traditional male-female selections, allowing advertisers to access and meet the demands of a new, quickly rising, advertising demographic.

These apps are no longer just on our phones – Tinder is now on Apple TV, taking the app off the phone, and turning dating selection from a private affair, into a social event. Tinder gets friends and family in on the game by allowing dating to become much like the sitcoms of old, where everyone can sit around on the couch and weigh in on your potential love life. Tinder has even rolled out several light-hearted ads showing friends, parents, and even grandparents, helping singles swipe left and right.  The sky is the limit now that Tinder has crossed the device threshold.

Though it is still in its infancy, online dating is a fantastic arena for programmatic innovation. Advertisers have seen dramatic results in CTR and engagement after showing relevant, great looking ads on Tinder that suggest their product will help the user land, or have, that first successful date. Advertisers looking to take advantage of programmatic to boost awareness, engagement, and revenues may want to partner with online dating sites, especially those struggling to connect with this generation. These apps have easy access to the data and target demographic heavily favoured by many brands.

NMPi Celebrates Another Four Nominations!

The good news keeps rolling in! In addition to our recent shortlist at the European Search Awards, NMPi have been shortlisted once again for the Drum Search Awards and the Drum Marketing Awards. We’re excited to be included in this list of global industry leaders.

 

Drum_Search-Awards_FINALISTS

Drum Search Awards:

Entering their third year, they look to recognise agencies and marketers who have been able to adapt to this shift and have done exceptional work in search and campaign management.

  • Performance Agency of the Year
  • SEO & PPC – Best Use of Technology in a Search Campaign

 

Drum_Marketing Awards_FINALIST

Drum Marketing Awards:

These awards have just gone global and reward the best in marketing, and campaign excellence.

  • Rising stars: Craig Brown and Claire Burgess
  • Marketing Agency of the Year

 

#5MinuteDigital: 5 Minutes, 5 Questions, All Digital with Ben Parameswaran

Current Occupation?
Programmatic Account Executive

Favourite thing about digital marketing?
It is always evolving! Constant growth in this field keeps you on your toes and brings new ways to achieve success with a client. It can push you out of your comfort zones at times, but ultimately that is a good thing.

Favourite aspect of your job?
The obvious answer is the variety of clients that I have handled in the few weeks I have been here.
It’s a hands-on sort of job that gives you room to try out ideas for various campaigns.
Coming from a completely different background, it has been a great challenge.

Why did you choose NMPi?
The people I met during my interview process and my team. Everyone was busy, but not uptight; you aren’t micro-managed. Progress is completely determined by your effort, I love that!

What projects are you working on now?
Between training sessions I’ve been helping build campaigns, create reports, and attend meetings with a number of different clients.

When Your Exact Match Isn’t Your Exact Match…

Google announced important changes coming to Exact Match last month and implemented these changes last week. Google is including (and excluding) function words, such as ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and’ in an effort to reduce the workload for advertisers, and swapping terms in an attempt to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for online. But is this really a positive change? 

The move can go both ways. One the one hand, it can make it more expensive for advertisers because of the sudden increase in generic search terms triggering for brand keywords, which are more competitive, resulting in higher CPCs. NMPi Account Manager, Sophie Worton, noted, “Looking at brand exact in the UK after the first few days of this roll out, the close variants have 15p CPCs, and Exact Match has 7p so it’s a big increase.”

In terms of word swapping, it can also negatively impact conversion rates since user intent is not the same: i.e., ‘The Perfume Shop’ (brand) and ‘perfume shop’ (any perfume shop, or ‘shopping for perfume’) – the intent here is unclear as to whether the user is searching for the brand, or for a generic perfume search. If advertisers set up an exact match keyword in the headline of the ad, word swapping can decrease the relevance.

As for the idea that this will alleviate advertiser work loads, it’s been the opposite. Google has tried to sell this as full coverage, so that advertisers no longer have to create a lot of keywords, but this latest tweak has actually increased workloads. Before the change, advertisers were able to allow exact match terms to run, now, they must perform negative SQRs across all exact matches focusing on brand terms to ensure accuracy. 

It will be interesting to view the results three months down the road.  It’s still ‘early days’, so whether the change is a blow to advertisers, and a boon to shoppers remains to be seen. 

 

 

Transparency: Marketing’s New Currency – Part II

Last week, we looked at some of the current issues around advertising in part I of our two part series on transparency. This week, we examine why these issues must matter to agencies and advertisers and what needs to change in order to restore consumer trust.

Why are these issues a big deal?

In the case of inconsistent metrics, it’s is a problem because it could potentially impact revenue: video viewing times were used to determine how much money was allotted to video spend in with Facebook vs other video channels such as YouTube, or even TV ads. This also impacted the types of content shown to viewers. If the metrics are giving brands the wrong information about viewing audiences, then in turn, they are delivering the wrong video content and ultimately, wasting ad spend. While some marketers said the initial damage by the Facebook metrics snafu was negligible, the latest blunder where Facebook underreported the amount of traffic coming in was serious enough to merit concern with some major brands like Buzzfeed and the Washington Post who saw up to 20% as diminished traffic reporting.

Facebook marketing strategist, Jon Loomer, pinpoints the main issue with this: “On one hand we expect the numbers to be accurate, we need the numbers to be accurate. And Facebook, for the sake of perception and trustworthiness, needs the numbers to be accurate.”

Accuracy and trust are integral to any brand. While Facebook has received the brunt of the fallout from this, it isn’t just a problem with Facebook; the issue goes well beyond them. Even if marketers are unsure of where they sit in terms of the damage caused by the Facebook reporting scandal (or non-scandal), the issue remains two-fold: 1.) that companies like Facebook are viewed as operating from within a “walled garden”, a closed system with little to no objective scrutiny, 2.) With no reliable third party measurements in place across the board, it means a serious loss of trust, and that in the long run, is the biggest issue for advertisers going forward.

Fight Against Fraud

While the fight against fraud has intensified, according to eMarketer, ad fraud costs advertisers billions every year in lost revenue, to the tune of $7.2 billion in 2016, according to Ad Age. In spite of this staggering amount, many agencies display a rather ambivalent attitude when it comes to ad fraud. There is a persistent idea that it just comes with the territory, it’s just part of the cost of doing business. There is also the belief that ad fraud will never be fully eradicated because, for all its losses, it is too lucrative to abandon entirely. Ad fraud measurements haven’t been standardised, allowing agencies to pick and choose what anti-fraud companies will make their practices look best. Even fraud detection companies don’t want to combat fraud too effectively because they would essentially put themselves out of business. Fraudsters, ad agencies, and fraud-detectors are all making money, so while the complaints fly, there is still an understanding that this may never be fully eradicated. This puts marketers in a difficult position (going back to transparency) because this sort of activity is anything but transparent.

What Needs to Change?

In July, The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released recommendations that advised brands to create a Chief Media Officer role within their organisations to facilitate better transparency between advertisers and consumers. It also included a series of guidelines to combat the unethical practices that have been plaguing the industry.

In terms of ad-fraud, agencies can also use third-party verification to ensure objective authentication that what the client has paid for will land on a credible page to prevent their ads from being shown alongside undesirable content. Third party ad verification also helps prevent any bidding on these types of auctions. Some DSPs also have built in technology to automatically detect and block bot traffic.

Citing Google’s inability to ensure ad safety as an unacceptable risk, several large companies pull ads from the platform last week. After large brands like Lloyd’s, McDonald’s and the UK government have dropped them, Google were quick to release a statement apologizing the oversight and laying out a step-by-step plan to combat the issue and ensure brand safety. Concerns were raised after ads landed on pages associated with terrorist activities. Until Google can assure brands that their ads won’t land on dangerous sites, brands will take their money elsewhere, leaving a dent in the advertsing platform’s revenue.

This signals a major shift in the industry – brands are no longer willing to put up with excuses from agencies and marketers. Expectations are higher, as is the demand for action and transparency.  If Google can be affected by such a large scale revolt, complacency and lack of transparency will invariably negatively impact smaller agencies that can’t account for their client’s ad whereabouts. Advertisers need to take their cues from Google and make similar changes in order to keep up with these new industry requirements.

 

 

Transparency: Marketing’s New Currency – Part I

In part I of our two part series on transparency in advertising, we look at the recent demand for transparency from brands and consumers, who is affected, and what needs to be addressed.

The term ‘transparency’ has been bandied about the advertising industry for years but will take on exceptional importance in 2017. After a dismal year plagued by fake news, fake news ads, algorithm blunders, improper metrics attribution, security breaches, and an unwillingness to quickly act on hate speech, marketers will feel the backlash from disillusioned consumers fed up with murky tactics and feeble apologies.

Advertisers are more concerned than ever with where their ads land with regards to ad fraud, viewability, and brand alignment, i.e., is this the image we want associated with our brand? We’ve seen large brands begin to take action as public opinion has forced their hand. The threat of financial loss has finally caused brands to mobilise and do something about transparency, or risk losing future business.

Who is Affected?

In short, everyone. Politicians were not the only casualties in 2016’s trust fallout, social media brands, agencies, and marketers were also caught in the fray, and will continue to pay the price for missteps in the coming year.

Brands were recently taken to task for (unwittingly) appearing on sites that are deemed controversial for their political views. Advertisers are being asked to be aware of their social and political footprint, to be accountable for where their ad dollars land, and for stepping up and admitting any wrongdoing. Brands that don’t comply are swiftly, and publicly denounced. The Twitter account,  Sleeping Giants, names, shames, and call outs brands for appearing on hate sites and right wing publications such as Breitbart.  Sleeping Giants’ campaign has witnessed unparalleled support as consumers quickly jump behind their initiative and boycott brands that show ads on these sites.

Even as brands cry foul and claim surprise that their ads have landed on such sites, saying ‘we didn’t know!’ is no longer an acceptable excuse.  Advertisers are expected to know where the company logo lands.  Consumers have moved beyond just being happy with ‘great low prices’ and ‘excellent customer service’. Shoppers have higher expectations and want to feel good about where they spend their hard earned cash. They want to be assured that they aren’t supporting a potentially harmful organization that runs contrary to their political beliefs.

In early February, Procter & Gamble rolled out a transparency charter, adopted MRC standards to implement third party verification, and created ‘transparency contracts’ with its suppliers. If suppliers don’t conform to P&G’s new policies, they simply won’t do business with them. The announcement sent shock waves through the industry, but also saw many other brands immediately follow suit.

More recently, large brands like Lloyd’s, McDonald’s, the Guardian, and the UK government have pulled their advertising from Google amid concerns of their ads showing up beside terrorist content. Brand safety is now top priority and the reprecussions for inaction are swift and severe. These aren’t small companies, they are major players that will impact Google’s reputation and revenue.

But is this really surprising? It is no coincidence that this has occurred alongside public outcry over corporate accountability. With grassroots campaigns like the one initiated by Sleeping Giants, companies can no longer hope to sweep social and political issues under the rug. Their feet are being held to the fire ,and announcements like P&Gs, no longer seem ‘revolutionary’ but more ‘reactionary’, in a climate where if brands do nothing, they can watch their revenues fall as consumer vote with their feet and shop elsewhere.

Fake News

Fake news has not only plagued social media and Google search, but has been a bane to brands and advertisers as well. In addition to landing on hate and extremist websites, brands have seen their ads land on dubious “news” sites. There is an industry wide crisis now with fake news generators selling ads on fake news sites via programmatic. According to The Drum, marketers aren’t always sure that ads won’t end up on these pages, ‘due to the automated nature of programmatic’.  The problem is also that controversial sites, like Breitbart,  are part of the Google Display Network. Even more problematic, according to Marketingland, is that ‘Google has no publisher policy against sites running fake news stories’. Although Google claims to be combating fake news, and hate sites, a lack of strong policy indicates this is nothing more than lip service.

Ad Fraud

An attack by Russian hackers in late December 2016 shook advertisers across the globe. The hackers made between $3-5 million USD per day with fake clicks on video ads. This was digital ad fraud of an unprecedented scale, by creating fake domains, they managed to trick  algorithms into displaying their most lucrative ads on these dummy domains instead of legitimate websites. Bots were deployed to click on these ads and supposedly “watched” 300 million video ads per day. What is disconcerting is that this ploy was so well thought out that they managed to bypass traditional anti-fraud detection measures, causing massive losses for advertisers.

Fake Metrics

Another pressing issue that rattled brands and advertisers was the revelation of the fake metrics scandal that rocked Facebook from September to December 2016. The social media giant came clean about incorrectly reported video metrics that miscalculated viewing times by counting views of only three seconds, thereby skewing reporting by as much as 60-80% according to Publicis.  Then, between September and December, another three blunders surfaced, leaving publishers and advertisers questioning the veracity of claims being made by Facebook, and platforms like it.

Stay tuned for Part II of our series on Transparency soon…