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Maybe adland needs a miracle or two: MediaCom claims creative breakthrough

An eerie silence seems to have descended on adland: we’ve had loads of Christmas/holiday ads – some good – but even these, in hindsight, seem mired in a post-Covid gloom.

Lots of big media reviews too but these are now par for the course. It’s as though as soon as a client concludes one review, another begins. Media agencies must have pitching teams that do nothing else.

No-one of any note has been fired (as far as we know); we haven’t even had a “white stale male” case for a few weeks now. Even the big holding companies, formerly a reliable source of behind the scenes rivalry and backstabbing, seem to be operating untroubled succession plans. What’s wrong – has everyone grown up?

Maybe the issue is that adland is rapidly becoming a smallish (in global terms) adjunct of the tech industry. This week we have WPP’s giant MediaCom media agency launching what it calls a new “creative analytics” tool. Creativity doesn’t always do what it’s told by analysis of course.

Anyway this is built, inevitably, around an AI algorithm – called Daivid, for some reason. It’s for digital ads (mercifully, although it may have further ambitions), using customer data to “make better creative and media decisions for programmatic display, search, social and video campaigns.” MediaCom claims it can improve digital performance by up to 50 per cent.

MediaCom Creative Systems’ Tom Saunter (left) says: “As an industry we have been primarily focused on media optimisation. The incremental gains from tweaking a digital algorithm are nothing compared to the benefits of making a high-quality piece of creative more relevant to its audience.

“Creative Analytics will be increasingly focused on extracting high-quality creative data that tells us what works creatively, what doesn’t, and why.”

Daivid founder Ian Forrester says: “I’m delighted to be working with MediaCom’s incredibly innovative team, who have an intrinsic understanding of the drivers of advertising effectiveness. We’re very much looking forward to working together to harness the power of attention and emotions for some of the biggest global brands as part of the Creative Analytics toolset.”

Daivid isn’t the first such attempt of course. People have been trying to optimise creative for decades: Rosser Reeves with his demand for Unique Selling Propositions in the 1950s, for example. Which wasn’t such a bad idea, it just produced loads of mind-numbingly tedious ads.

Rosser didn’t have the internet, let alone artificial intelligence, in his corner. We’ll no doubt find out, in due course, if MediaCom and Daivid have finally cracked it.

WPP plans to roll this out to all its agencies. Wonder what they’ll make of it at digital network AKQA, who probably think they know a bit about creativity.

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