Bridging the creative-media gap

AdTech should help in the battle for attention, argues Tailwind’s Giannis Stoubos


Picture this for a second: Mary, the marketer, pours out her heart and soul with her agency to craft and launch a campaign that resonates with her target audience. They launched it online, hoping it’d stand out. Yet amidst the sea of content out there, Mary’s ad gets lost in the crowd, passing like a ship in the night,”  as David Ogilvy would say. It sounds frustratingly familiar, doesn’t it?

Welcome back to the relentless battleground of digital marketing, where every click and scroll can lead to a new discovery and a new distraction. Here, Mary and all her fellow marketers are fighting for the most precious commodity of all: consumer attention.

In this landscape of fragmented media consumption, relentless ad clutter, looming data deprecation, and insatiable consumer appetite for engaging content, the stakes have never been higher. The undeniable truth? Compelling advertising isn’t just desirable— it’s essential for growth.

The power of creativity to drive brand growth has repeatedly been highlighted as the advertising variable with the highest potential to drive brand growth amongst practitioners. Research by Flashtalking finds that 65 per cent of marketers identify creativity as the advertising variable with the highest potential to drive growth and business outcomes. Technology is an essential enabler of the creative process. Generative AI (genAI), which accelerates marketers’ adoption of intelligent creativity, supercharges technology’s impact.

Yet, our industry’s response over the last 15 years has been over-indexing on media at the expense of creativity, which has created a gasping chasm. Let’s call it the ‘creative-media gap’. The rise of programmatic advertising has exacerbated this trend, with its over emphasis on data-driven targeting and automation. While programmatic has undoubtedly revolutionised ad buying and optimisation, it has sometimes led to a diminished role for creative teams. Media teams, armed with advanced analytics and targeting tools, have gained prominence, while creative teams have often been relegated to a more executional, less strategic role.

Today’s creative-media gap manifests itself in three distinct ways

First, siloed teams, processes, and technology created inefficiencies with escalating costs and slow go to-market. A recent report by Forrester ranks the disconnect between media and creative teams as the most important one, and highlights the need for brands and agencies to align their strategy, people, and processes to see the value of their technology investments.

Second, repetitive and irrelevant messaging, not considering the media context, numbs consumers—no surprise that ad-blocking usage is so high—and reduces their responsiveness. Neglecting creativity in favour of media efficiency can result in generic, uninspired campaigns that fail to make a meaningful impact.

Third, the lack of creative intelligence creates hurdles in learning what content resonates. Unlike third-party audience data suffering from signal loss, creative data is super-abundant but is not used as frequently to optimise campaigns.

To bridge the gap, marketing teams must pivot towards:

Breaking down silos between media and creative teams, processes, and technology platforms. Foster joint teams that unite left- and right-brained talent under the same goal.

Bringing back the ‘big idea’ in a relevant way; crafting brand messages tailored to the individual, the context, and the moment to ensure resonance. Storytelling is even more important today and it can be more powerful when amplified by technology.

Embedding creative insights into every stage of the optimization process.

But here’s the kicker: The AdTech industry holds the key to unlocking this potential. By striking the right balance between creativity and targeting, it can revolutionise advertising as we know it. How? By spearheading the development of captivating ad formats, automating creative production across diverse channels, and harnessing the power of real-time audience targeting with insights-driven creative optimisation.

So, if Mary and her fellow marketers are tired of spinning their wheels on the merry-go-round of lacklustre advertising, there’s a clear path forward: Bridge the creative-media gap, unleash the power of creativity, and emerge victorious in the battle for consumer attention. The time is now.


By Giannis Stoubos, Chief Revenue Officer of Tailwind EMEA.