Alan Schulman, Deloitte Digital’s national director of brand creative & content marketing, shares his thoughts on getting more human emotion into programmatic creative. Alan will speak on May 18, alongside Flashtalking—a leading programmatic platform—at Internet Week in New York.


While enabling programmatic media and proving its effectiveness seems to be the primary focus of agencies and marketers alike of late, there’s still a lot of work to be done in making programmatic creative a more emotional sell – like its television counterpart has done for decades.

To date, what we have observed in programmatic digital media consists of hundreds of versions of banner ads – all targeted with different offers and different headlines to different population segments.  The question is: Are these dynamically created, algorithmically fed banner ads actually moving anybody emotionally?  Or are marketers just presuming everyone is in a lean-forward, ready-to-buy mode, making these largely lower funnel executions just a more personally relevant hard sell?

The overlap between brand truth and consumer truth is where creatives traditionally have looked to tell the most relevant and emotional brand stories.  The goal has been to entice consumers to associate with brands as a part of who they are. To do that used to mean making people feel something first, then hoping they would be persuaded to act later. To reach the heart, not just the head, of consumers, programmatic creative must use data that can help us both write for and reach the audience emotionally – not just feed business rules to a container via an algorithm that pushes a product, price, and some measure of personal data, like a zip code or the current weather conditions.

As we prepare for yet Internet Week in New York, I look forward to having the opportunity to speak alongside colleagues from Flashtalking – a leading programmatic platform – on how we renew our focus on emotional storytelling in the context of digital programmatic ad units. We can no longer afford to separate the medium from the message and hope for effectiveness in media, while ignoring the effectiveness of the message we’re conveying. After all, algorithms don’t feel—people do.

Alan will be this year’s keynote speaker on programmatic creative at Flashtalking’s Internet Week Summit on May 18, 9:45 to 10:30 a.m., at the Knickerbocker Hotel. To register for the event, go here.

Alan Schulman is National Director of Brand Creative & Content Marketing at Deloitte Digital.  He is a frequent speaker on data-driven creative and is a member of the Faculty of the School of Marketing at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).