Marketing trends

Advertising & Programming: A Mad Man’s Time to Learn

As the world is going through a digital Renaissance, where everything old is being converted into 1s and 0s, and everything new has only a symbolic connection to the past, a new platform of communication between advertisers and consumers is taking hold. One that offers seemingly limitless amounts of flexibility and possibilities for even the wildest concepts to take flight! But don’t be fooled into thinking that these seemingly limitless possibilities will finally unleash the conceptual Rauschenberg inside you. Quite the opposite, what it means is that since your beautiful ad now has so many technologies and devices to live on, it’s nearly impossible to account for every landscape this ad will have to be a part of.

Understand the Advertising Delivery ProcessUnderstand the Advertising Delivery Process

As advertising’s connection with the digital future becomes tighter and tighter, it means advertisers have to be intimately familiar with the landscape they are designing for. We have to be very familiar with the technology that pushes our ads around the vast world of the internet. Understand things like who will see our ads? Old folks, who’ll probably see it on their desktop computers which push the page fold above average? or the youth, who has evolved into advanced humanoids capable of completely ignoring ads, even without the aid of ad blockers?

Do we know how ads are loaded on websites? Does some ad trade desk have to take time to bid on an ad space? While, yes we’re talking about milliseconds, that’s still enough time for that ad space to stay blank just long enough for the viewer to scroll past. Will these ads potentially appear on TMZs website, where the front page story could be about sexual allegations against the very celebrity appearing in your ad? Obviously, besides me testing out my material here, that last bit is highly unlikely to happen, but the point is that the more you understand about the environment you’re creating for, the less opportunity for failure.

This is what we’d like to call compositional flexibility. The ability for a composition to take the shape of any size and proportion that’s forced upon it and still communicate everything it has to convey.


Aim for maximum compositional flexibility

At a minimum, the ads in today’s digital interwebs have to hold up in the most unexpected settings and situations. By ‘hold up’ I mean they have to be first and foremost legible, and to be able to convey the message in under 2 seconds. And, as already mentioned, since it’s nearly impossible to account for every single situation your ad will wind up in, an ad can no longer be treated as one piece of beautiful typographic acrobatics that can only live in a square proportion. It means ads now have to be treated as sets of elements that can have enough flexibility to accommodate any size and proportion that’s forced upon it. This is what we’d like to call compositional flexibility. The ability for a composition to take the shape of any size and proportion that’s forced upon it and still communicate everything it has to convey.

To further detail this concept, we the advertisers, are in essence creating a recipe for an ad. It’s a set of ingredients, proportions and combinations, that no matter who has to create, will come out legible, recognizable and consistent. 

Chipotle ordering stationChipotle ordering station allows for a claimed 65,000 combinations

One humorous example could be the great and successful Mexican food chain, Chipotle. No matter which of the claimed 65,000 burrito combinations you choose, and no matter which of the 50 states you order in, it’ll always taste the same. Reason being, is that all the ingredients, preparation methods and execution have been thought through so well, that regardless of who’s preparing it, be it a frustrated high schooler or a dedicated father of 3, and regardless of whether it was prepared during a lunch rush in Manhattan or mindfully prepared as someone’s dinner in Albuquerque, it will always taste incredible.



Now that you’re done holding your sides from all the laughter, I’ll quickly sum it all up. Understanding compositional flexibility requires an understanding of the system it will live in. This means understanding the delivery methods the ads will be going through. It means understanding of the environment and potential external factors that may influence the appearance of the ad. All this may seem like inconsequential details that the production team should worry about, but if this type of thinking is present during the development stage, it will keep the concept from being degraded and bastardized by the eventual compromises because of technical limitations. 

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