The battle between creative minds and tech wizards has created plenty of column inches over the years. We’ve all read the headlines of AI invasions in the workplace, or data replacing creativity in marketers’ hearts (and wallets) but when you actually get to the root of the issue, it just echoes a fundamental lack of understanding in how each plays a vital role in delivering successful brand campaigns today.

As more marketers look to take back control of their campaigns, they are seeking to align data and creativity with the nonlinear customer journey, and to do that, they are having to set a new precedent. Looking to the past for sure-fire successes is no longer an option. The increasingly comprehensive data points that enable such micro-messaging still to need to make sense when paired with the creative elements.

It’s a delicate balance to achieve the best end result as they are intertwined throughout the whole process. Audience profiling and segmentation for example, feed into the creative to ensure relevancy, as well as selecting the right channel and timing for success. With this kind of power at your fingertips, it’s easy to get carried away and forget that a DCO solution is not an excuse to say everything to everyone, rather a chance to get the messaging right for each person that you target.

This realization should serve as an opportunity for marketers to take a step back and assess the big picture, looking at the technology they are deploying and if they are utilizing it to its full potential. On the flip side, it also gives tech and agency partners alike the chance to step in and provide strategic guidance, helping them to shape outcomes and not get sidetracked in installing multiple technologies, or in harnessing innovation for innovation’s sake.

Ad-tech, in this context is becoming the enabler, rather than inhibitor to the creative thinking process. Leveraging the right solutions on one side has a positive effect on the other; look at how many creative options a marketer is now able to deploy based on detailed audience profiling, or how quickly the creative process can go live, with the added bonus of thorough insights along the way. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg and we’re certainly not there yet, but the signs are promising.

On a recent panel for Campaign Middle East, I talked about the ad-tech/creative blend from the publisher perspective and how these new tools are pushing the boundaries for creativity. Our role is in this space is to provide guidance and actionable insights on all elements, from ad placements through to design and viewability on high impact formats; execution is only one small component.

Publishers need to have a solid infrastructure in place from the beginning that leverages the right ad-tech tools to provide the best creative solutions, thus delivering campaign excellence each time.

Examining new formats that attract audiences is also a fundamental part of this, as naturally they yield a higher engagement rate and provide a benchmark for success. Engagement levels give an indication of how genuine the traffic to a site is, which considering the many issues faced in the past, is crucial to analyze. Formats with high viewability go some way to tackling this, while high impact formats will also help brands stand out from their competitors, as they can be embedded into e-commerce elements, videos, and games. Not only do these engaging layouts bring ads to life, but they also encourage the consumer to interact on a whole new level.

When you take all this into account, the future of ad-tech and its role within the creative space will belong to new formats that break out of the box, empower and inspire. The blended nature of the two worlds is still in its infancy, but the ads that will stand the test of time will be remembered not just for their creativity, but also for their hyper-targeted and trusted placement, and enhancing, rather than spoiling, the user experience. Creative thinking is only half the equation, today you need to be powered by the right infrastructure, technology and tools as well.