Programmatic Best Practices: Dynamic Creative Optimization

By Brian Bowman, CEO of

As dynamic advertising has become a standard tool for data-driven marketing, dynamic creative optimization (DCO) is a critical capability to drive higher performance. DCO leverages machine learning for real-time media buying to deliver the best possible creative at the right time. Ads are customized and changed in relation to a user’s past behavior or current situation with individual components of an ad personalized in real-time.

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Here’s how to make the most of your programmatic campaigns with dynamic creative optimization.

Think beyond display

Programmatic is not one specific ad format or channel. While display advertising is often a default choice, other programmatic opportunities include:

  • YouTube
  • Podcasts
  • Streaming audio
  • Homepage takeovers
  • Linear and Connected TV
  • Email 
  • Native
  • Digital out-of-home (DOOH)

Programmatic media buying can happen wherever your audience is, so consider your target personas and how they engage with media. As you test and optimize, specific channels will emerge as winners for different audiences and stages along the customer journey.

Meet the moment

Test and optimize every component of your ad to meet your audience exactly where they are. Rotate text, colors, imagery, buttons, and calls to action to identify high performers. Use eye-catching formats like carousels to showcase meaningful content and products with engaging functionality. Use external data sources like weather or local trends to align your ads with what your audience is experiencing at the moment. 

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Customize for every stage

Increase relevance and personalize messaging for each stage of the customer journey. Below are some examples of how programmatic can drive engagement by meeting the needs of a user at different points of the funnel. 

Top of Funnel: Reach and recall

Increase brand awareness by leveraging engaging creative and interactive experiences.

  • Connected TV lets a user explore an experience in a highly immersive way. 
  • YouTube captures interest while a user is already engaged
  • DOOH drives measurable awareness by geofencing key events and screens and leveraging device ID retargeting
  • Direct buys with relevant partners educate consumers and earn trust
  • Audio advertising, via YouTube or Private Marketplace, adds an essential touchpoint in the consumer’s purchase journey, allowing the brand to connect with listeners at different points during their day

Mid-Funnel: Contextual

Educate the user with informative and persuasive content. Show how their needs will be met and how a product or service aligns with their interest, values, and motivations. Leverage native video and display to get first party data through traditional onsite metrics (duration, page depth, time on page, bounce rate, etc.) along with channel performance metrics like shares, clicks, and CTR. 

Bottom of Funnel: Conversions

Establish and nurture your customer base. Display and native ads are most efficient as they evolve from educating to inspiring action. Here you can capture bottom funnel metrics such as transactions, installs, ARPU, and LTV. 

Retain and Re-engage

Programmatic video, display, and rich media help build a loyalty loop, so retarget users and promote the brand contextually.

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Keep your team focused on the bigger picture

DCO saves time and resources as the algorithms assemble and test ads that are most likely to resonate with your audience at a faster rate. Your team maintains visibility on data across all channels and can focus on higher level strategy. 

Programmatic advertising is an invaluable medium for you to learn about your online audience and to help inform your broader marketing strategy and performance. A rigorous testing plan is essential for testing every element of your programmatic set-up from the audience to creatives and placements, supported by granular reporting and bespoke programmatic analysis tools that enable a better understanding of performance to drive the most value for your brand. 

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