Global Media platform Teads recently launched  an  online content series centered around the many ways online creativity in the ad industry is evolving and has been accelerated by COVID-19.  Portada interviewed Jonathan Lewis, Global Head of Studio at Teads, to learn about the latest innovations in digital transformation and its implications for cross-divisional team work (e.g. creative and media) and organizational processes.

Jonathan Lewis on Digital Transformation
Jonathan Lewis, Global Head of Studio, Teads

Lewis, Global Head of Studio, Teads, is an expert who has been tasked with pressure-testing legacy creative processes and accelerate digital transformation within advertising. He notes that Latin America is the best playground for early adoption of initiatives including cross divisional team work and content testing. He claims that “there is without question a greater appetite for innovation and to a degree risk in Latin America.”

Digital Transformation and Cross Division Collaboration

Asked where he sees digital transformation within advertising going in regards to cross-division collaboration in the creative process, Lewis notes that “you certainly hear more about the convergence of creative and media teams, both within client and agency shops and In the main I think this is driven by client needs. At Teads our teams work collaboratively across the spectrum of the platform and the approach we have promoted with regard to our relationships with clients during the creative process is a reflection of this. For the last 2 years we have worked a cross-division, collaborative initiative that combines client
stakeholders, their creative and media agencies with our own creative Studio, data and media insights teams to deliver a specific campaign orchestration together in one (now remote) session. This working session, called L’Atelier is a powerful validation of the value of cross division learning and understanding.
This has been especially so during the current pandemic, where Covid-19 has acted as a reset button in the lives of many and faced, as we are, with an unfamiliar world our habits and needs and desires at any given moment are pretty fluid. So, the cross-collaboration across media, insights and creative functions is essential to ensuring we deliver sensitive creative experiences and give people what they need during this time. Ensuring tonality is on point and cut through to such collaborative approaches can achieve, learning and understanding from each division.”

Faced with an unfamiliar world our habits and needs and desires at any given moment are pretty fluid.

Appropriate Tonality: The Examples of KFC and LVMH

Lewis also stresses the need for the use of appropriate tonality in these challenging times. Digital Transformation also means establishing processes and cross-divisional teams for efficient tonality feedback loops. “Simply put, when we talk of tonality we are referring to what you say, how you say, when and where you say it (the context in which the ad appears is also an important consideration with regard to appropriate tonality) and maybe whether you should be saying it at all. Things can quickly become ‘tone deaf’ to the environment in which we find ourselves. In early stages of lockdown that would include content that had people celebrating, partying, holidaying or simply referring to things that we couldn’t do any longer.” As examples Lewis cites  KFC were unfortunately caught here with the outdoor campaign promoting (finger licking) good chicken.
Appropriate tonality would include messages that are showing support and action to help in the
crises. A good example here would be LVMH who very quickly pivoted to produce hand
sanitizer. “Of course there is a thin line between genuine help and being perceived as trying to
capitalize on a bad situation. So, referring back to the first question, the close collaboration
across teams provides a more stable and reliable way to test the temperature, assess tone and
adjust in a smart and agile way.”

The close collaboration across teams provides a more stable and reliable way to test the temperature, assess tone and adjust in a smart and agile way.

Digital Transformation: Best-In-Class Content Testing…

There are a number of ways a brand can test their content, Lewis argues. “One lifted from the world of TV, of which they should be familiar, is content pre-testing. Assuming your TVC will play out in the same way on a digital device is not advisable. So being able to pre-test that content for a mobile platform and using real time emotional tracking (via a panel and accessing the users web camera) to gage, frame by frame, how users, exposed to such a creative are reacting on an emotional level, is an excellent barometer for understanding how it is likely to perform. At what point during the creative are users happy? When are they surprised? When are they disgusted and how can we use that data to inform how we deliver this TVC as a digital piece fit
for mobile.

Tonality Pre-Testing

Lewis  also advocates for a ‘tonality pre- test: “During COVID via a survey to 300 respondents we are measuring aided brand awareness, reaction to creative (relevance, sensitivity to context) and impact on perception of the brand, ” he notes.

We are also advocating a ‘tonality pre- test during COVID via a survey to 300 respondents where we are measuring aided brand awareness.

Digital Transformation: Evidence based Approach Feeds Back into the Creative Process

Evidence generated from pre-test emotional studies can be a key driver for refashioning digital creatives by using  the positive peaks in emotion to accentuate the creative, Alternatively an evidence based creative process in order to drive actions could involve the use of campaign performance data, live in near-real-time, to identify what’s working, to design tests (AB), to validate a hypothesis and to iterate. Lewis asserts that “for this, you need something akin to a remote war room with your clients to initiate a more or less constant feedback loop. This of course can be a lot of work and time consuming, you will need agile and fast working teams with the ability to understand and redesign creative output, but the payoff is that it could provide the key to a deeper understanding of what resonates with people exposed to your creative on a mobile
device.

  You need something akin to a remote war room with your clients to initiate a more or less constant feedback loop.

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