Data Recasts the Creative Director


Was it possible to optimise advertising relevance and conversion in a market where digital consumers have increasingly low tolerance for display advertising? 

Resorting to ‘stalking’ the user with endless retargeting and creating ultimately a negative brand experience was not the answer… 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to create cut through in this market without a creative that is relevant and engaging. The right message for the right user at the right time is paramount and therefore Starcom needed to ensure it treated every user as unique. 

A further challenge was that the display market response rates are dropping significantly, and the general lack of reactivity to results has meant that once an audience/creative insight was identified very rarely would it be able to activate that in a short period of time to capitalise on the opportunity. 

Several companies have emerged (Struq & Crieo) in the last couple of years and grown substantially to multimillion dollar companies that offer the ability to develop creative and deliver dynamic messages to users based on their online user experience. 


Retargeting consumers has become the norm within the industry and a frustration of many consumers who felt they were being followed around the web. Consumers cite examples of one-time items they bought or searches they conducted and then still seeing web ads for that product months down the line when it’s not relevant anymore. If they are going to be targeted, they want ads and offers that are of real interest. 

In the age of the always-addressable customer, where hyper-connected consumers are increasingly savvy and demanding of the brands with which they interact, marketers must become more audience-centric in their approach to display advertising. This means bringing audience intelligence to every impression you buy, using that intelligence to serve the most relevant message every time, learning — in real time — the impact of every impression delivered, and tailoring your next interaction based on that. 

In 2013 Starcom wanted to develop its own and make it the best in market giving us a distinct competitive advantage. The first reason was that clients using this service were limited to the inventory the suppliers offered, their system would access all inventory across premium, network and exchange display. 

Furthermore the agency believed its clients campaigns should be optimised against their real business objectives (such as conversion) and not simply driving website traffic via clicks – two very different metrics. Finally it believed in frequency caps and respecting the balance between optimum frequency and excessive frequency ultimately irritating consumers. 

Starcom's response to this was the development of DOT (Dynamic Optimised Technology), a new product offering unique to the media agency.


DOT enables the ability to target users with a bespoke message based on their unique online journey, a powerful way of combining their online human experience with a very meaningful and relevant brand message. Rather than targeting users with a generic banner message Starcom can now single out consumers and deliver them a message that displays a relevant brand message based on their digital behaviours, and furthermore serve them different products/colours/prices to see which combination stimulated real business results for clients and frequency capped to four. 

Starcom launched this service in 2013 with its client Novartis and its cold and allergies brand Otrivin. 

The client transformed its historic digital sponsorship heath campaign, in previous years interaction with the creative had decreased over time due to the repetitive nature of the messaging. The approach allowed them to move from one generic product message to 16 different creative messages, optimised to the most effective in real time. This was achieved through utilising 3rd party data such as live weather information from Bureau of Metrology to react live weather information, day of week and time of day to serve relevant product information in real time eg high pollen count served a hayfever product, low temperature a cold and flu product. 

All of this was developed end to end within the media agency. 


DOT has led to significant performance improvements across all clients tested since going live. Starcom’s DOT product has taken business away from specialist creative agencies, their campaigns have seen Click Thru Rate improvements of over 300% and crucially impression to sale ratios improved by 154%. 

The Otrvin campaign increased engagement with users spending 3.4mins with the content, grew brand awareness by 7.9% and click thru rates increase 225% versus the previous year and in comparison to Millward Brown CPG Heath category norms. 

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