How to escape the content bottleneck — lose the bottle.

Today's marketers and advertisers face a seemingly insurmountable challenge — to deliver countless digital ad experiences that are increasingly personalized across audiences, channels, and formats. And they have to do it all while keeping a close eye on quantity, quality, and coordination. This content and creative bottleneck is a huge challenge for modern marketing. Creating personalized, localized, and custom content that both advocates a brand and reaches the customer's heart is no small task.

It’s a problem that marketers and advertisers agree on. According to a survey we conducted alongside our independent research partner, Advanis, more than half of respondents find it difficult to personalize their content and digital advertising at scale. 

There are three major content bottleneck culprits that hinder great content:

Content and ads need to meet a new benchmark of sophisticated targeting. To be effective, ads and offers need to be adjusted based on factors such as customer behavior, geography, demographics, retargeting, and position in the customer journey. In turn, design and creative teams often must create thousands of variants of ads to address this reality.

 Marketing and advertising are disciplines that require non-routine, highly variant work. Especially when accounting for human-capital-intensive activities like analysis, planning, ideation, and creative development. And because those activities come before production, a bottleneck forms there, slowing down everything from approval to delivery and performance tracking.

 Businesses lack strong processes and integrations between their creative teams and their marketing and advertising teams. When these teams aren't on the same page at all times by delivering timely feedback at each step through open communication, the entire ad-creation process slows down.

It’s clear that there’s high expectation for advertising. And it’s even clearer that it’s hard to do — for multiple reasons. 

We’re going to dig deeper into the survey results to see what marketers and advertisers are saying about these problems. And then we’re going to look at how we can work with you to help you overcome those problems.

Five challenges of content personalization.

Our survey revealed a lot of interesting insights about the struggles marketers and advertisers run into and what’s holding them back when it comes to personalizing content. Let’s take a look.

1. There’s a need for improvement.

There’s a need for improvement.

That leaves nearly 80 percent of marketers and advertisers who can improve ad and content personalization. That includes the nearly 50 percent who believe they’re on the right track, but only “somewhat agree” because they know they can do it even better.

And they understand why they need to make these improvements a reality. According to Loyalty 360 and Infosys, 74 percent of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized. They want something that’s personal to them. Something that resonates. Something creative and emotional. If content doesn’t meet those criteria, and if customers do get annoyed or feel unattached to that content, then there’s a high chance that they’ll walk away and not look back.

2. Personalization is expensive.

Personalization is expensive.

Creating personalized ad content can be taxing on your organization’s resources. When teams are siloed or technology isn’t working well together, moving content from one to the other can take a lot of time. And if you’re working with external creative agencies, it can take even longer and cost a lot more to move through the rounds of creation and approval.

This is compounded by that fact that, according to the survey, advertisers reported that a single piece of banner-ad content takes 17 hours to complete, with advanced ad formats taking 25 hours each. Then, add to that the thousands of variants for different locales and personas, and you have a huge cost problem on your hands.

3. The devil’s in the details.

The devil’s in the details.

Time and cost are major strategic problems impeding brands from personalizing content. And when it comes to the tactics of it all, different teams have different challenges.

For instance, marketers are frustrated by sending content back and forth for minor messaging or editorial changes. As important as these changes may be to a brand’s reputation, they can be time-consuming, delaying ad launches and using up time that could be spent on future projects.

Meanwhile, advertisers might feel that they’re not getting enough segment insights from their company’s analytics to truly personalize their ads. This is most likely due to disparate technologies that are unable to quickly and easily work together. 

4. Feedback is hit or miss.

Feedback is hit or miss.

A major key to great ads and content is the ability to get feedback quickly, revise, and then get better, optimized ads back out. Many marketers and advertisers might be able to run A/B tests and optimize to a point, but that's no guarantee that the campaign overall is going to be successful. According to our findings, many feel somewhat disconnected from reporting and metrics. So they're left in the dark and have no idea how ads are performing either until much later in the game. Even worse, some of them never actually find out.

Ideally, marketers across a brand — no matter what department they’re working on or how separated from metrics they are — should be able to test and optimize their ads quickly. And by getting agile feedback from these tests, they should be able to deliver personalized, dynamic ads that change based on a customer’s journey. 

5. Personalization vs. quality.

"Marketers and advertisers place higher value on personalization. Creatives place higher value on content quality."

Great ads are both personal and high quality. But when it comes to actually making that happen, marketers and advertisers tend to prioritize personalization, while creatives and designers tend to place more value on quality. Without the right technology — a platform that allows smooth and easy collaboration — typically one side or the other wins out. But today, technology can allow advertising and creative teams to work together quickly and efficiently, so they always get the right ad out on time.

Adobe can help.

With all the challenges of creating high-quality, meaningful content collaboratively across several teams, it’s tough to see where to go from here. Fortunately, we can help you personalize content and enhance creative collaboration. And the secret lies in the power of Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative.

Adobe can help.

Advertising Cloud Creative is the creative management tool you’ve been waiting for. It helps remove the manual processes out of creating hundreds of ad variants, relieving the pressure that taxes creative teams. And it gives you the flexibility to do it yourself, intuitively. You can use predefined messages, graphics, and more to build your ads the way you want them.

Using the connection with Creative Cloud, you can create all the different ad units you need through a decision-tree process, lightening the load while keeping team collaboration strategic. Plus, you can iterate your ads much more quickly using flexible templates, reducing the costs of creative development and cutting down time to launch. And its intuitive, self-serve UI makes it easy to use — no coding required.

Finally, the feed-based algorithm in Advertising Cloud Creative uses multivariate testing that helps you optimize your ads. This lets you see which ad performs the best, giving you deep insight into what’s working, what’s not, and what could be working even better. 

“Not only will you serve more ads, you’ll know their impact.”

Kiyoshi Ihara
Group Product Manager, Adobe Advertising Cloud

Let’s work together.

See what Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative can do for your business.


“Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative overview video,” Adobe.

“Adobe cross-cloud survey,” Adobe and Advanis, 2018.*

Customers Frustrated with Brands that Fail to Personalize,” Loyalty 360, February 4, 2016.


*Survey methodology.

Between August 7 and 31, 2018, 1,037 U.S. marketers, advertisers, creative professionals, and IT professionals who work at agencies or brands (500 FTE or more) completed a survey about their organization’s creative and marketing processes.

As a subset of marketing participants, 174 people who “work in, or directly support, online or digital advertising” completed a slightly different version of the survey. They completed the same survey as marketers, with the exception that for several questions, they answered about “ads” rather than “content.”

Adobe partnered with Advanis to carry out the study.