All posts by Jason Gemenis

Is Programmatic killing creativity in the advertising industry?


Customers today prefer a more personalised online ad experience. Ryan Roche looks at how this is achieved using a blend of technology, data and creative input.

With only 2 more weeks until I finish Macleay, I’ve learnt so much information in such a short period of time. However, if I were to condense all this knowledge into one main point, it would be that ‘different is good’. You don’t win Effie’s or get your name considered to be apart of the Cannes Lions festival of creativity in France if your work isn’t better then not just anyone else in your agency, but rather all the other agencies around the globe. According to CBS News, the average person is exposed to roughly 5000 advertisements each day.

With so many brands paying for your attention, most of them will find some difficulty in getting any actual results such as brand awareness or sales if they all start looking the same. However, taking a broad approach, the question I ask. “Is programmatic the vehicle that drives the majority of these 5000 advertisements out of our minds as soon as we see them, having no affect at all?” Or in actual fact, is Programmatic the new formula that advertisers have needed to better connect with their audience?

According to the Internet advertising bureau, 47 percent of display ads were traded in programmatically in 2014, nearly doubling from 28 percent the previous year. Furthermore, in 2014, Magna Global forecasted digital ad revenues to reach 30% market share globally by the end of 2015, validating that advertisers need to shift their focus more on digital. With such huge growth, it seems as though more of each agencies money, time & energy is being spent on buying into programmatic compared to focusing on the big idea. In other words, with numerous deadlines for the agency to meet, it seems as though the most efficient way to get business done would be done through using less of the creative & shifting their focus on buying media space in the form of a cheap banner ads in front of the right people just to get their message out there. In doing so, this causes for a much less effective, innovative & resonates far less with each consumer, even if they are all reached individually.

I would like to further continue on this path when talking about how big programmatic really is & how much it has taken over the advertising industry in such a short time. The scariest statistic I found was that Yahoo processes around 150 billion user data events every day globally, which is an incredible amount of knowledge that us as advertisers have about consumers. However, I feel like there is so much information for advertisers to use to best target their specific target audience that they can fall into the trap of just assuming that their work will be effective. They fall into the trap of thinking that they are reaching their target audience anyway, so it’s easy to just think of an idea & put it through the programmatic pipes & let that do the work for them. I think now would be a good time to confirm that after reading numerous articles, I believe programmatic is the best resource that has happened to the advertising industry in the past ten years, however, my issue lies with the work ethic of the creative.

The best thing about all this programmatic data is that it allows us to distribute content to the right consumer at the right time. It’s all up to the creative ideas that will ultimately drive optimum performance, creative minimal wastage of money & determine if this ad is the once that people actually remember from the other 5000. I found a great quote that backs up exactly what I would like to convey about my views on programmatic.

“The goal of programmatic advertising is not to take humans out of the equation, but to make the process itself more efficient & ensure that individuals can focus on higher value work. It doesn’t mean humans are gone, it just means that their role in the process is changing. Humans may not be buying or placing the ads directly, but they are still the cornerstone of the process.”

To further expand on this, no jobs are being lost. The advertising industry is forever shifting & it is our job as advertisers to adapt, to change with technology & trends to continue to better our own work. Rather than it being a case of man vs. machine, it is actually man + machine, with increasing opportunities opening recently for creative in buying & selling programmatic to make sure the quality of work is continually improving.

A great example to further expand on the importance of programmatic is the forever growing age of digital media. Whether we like it or not, phone usage has increased significantly, & so has the way that we interact with our phones. Currently, there is close to one million apps that are available through IOS & Google play. Furthermore, on average, people use 20 different apps on their mobile, spending roughly 86% of their time in one of these 20 applications compared to 14% of people that are on the web. So we know that most users are on their applications, they are highly engaged, they may be focusing heavily on getting a new high score, maybe scrolling through their social media such as Instagram or Facebook, or maybe they are just watching a ted talk video on the way to work. This is a perfect opportunity for us as advertisers; we can subtly place our message in front of each consumer’s eyes while they are highly engaged.

Well without programmatic, good luck choosing which apps that your target market will be engaged in. For example, If I wanted to sell my brand’s new product, I would have to choose one app out of one million that is not only popular, but also is where the target market will be engaged. Programmatic is the way that this can be done. More facts about phone usage, more information about each app, more knowledge about where our target market are & inevitably, from all this, we have ourselves increased creativity all achieved through programmatic.

To sum up my beliefs into my own words, customers today would prefer a much more personalized ad experience. So in order for this to happen, you get the most from digital advertising through showing that you view each customer as a person, not just data, and to do that most effectively, it all comes back to the creative. All that programmatic is doing is repositioning the online advertising industry to make it more efficient & effective. At the end of the day, automation is just machines doing what the creative programmers tell them to do, and programmatic is laying the ground for a new wave of creative thinking.

What does success look like?


Ashleigh Hogan looks at the elements that define “Success” in an Advertising agency by relating it back to her own hopes and dreams.

From someone who is seemingly at the bottom of the food chain in the Ad Industry, I have given alot of thought of what I think success would look like. It has also been a question that was brought up in one of my marketing classes; “In the Ad Industry, what does success look like?”

We were given so many different options of answers to choose from; the money coming in the agency and its value, the prestigious awards that it has won, the amount of charity projects the agency was involved with, the case studies or is it the list of big clients. After two hours of arguing between 12 students in the class on which was better to have in an agency, we slowly figured out that we had no clue. First, we have never been in an Ad agency and second, there was no purpose to us arguing because, we were all right. HOW? Because success is measured differently to different agencies.

The same topic came up in my singing lesson last week, about how people in the community measure success in the music industry. Being a singer, going to my weekly class for the past 6 years, people loose faith in you because ‘you haven’t made it.’ People hear you sing and they think that you belong on X-factor or The Voice, because they believe that is the only way to be successful. That’s how you become successful. Being famous, selling albums, making it on the radio, having sell-out concerts, touring the world, going on Ellen, HECK win awards! But what they don’t understand is that people can be successful without the money, fame, and the trophies that do nothing but collect dust. The music industry is a prime example of how perceptions of success is a narrow minded Hallway, that the meaning of Music has faded due to the image of success.

My singing teacher told me about a famous modern australian singer, that she is very close with. A singer who was given the chance to live in the spotlight and swim in fortunes, but rejected it for the easy going, come and go lifestyle that many artists wouldn’t choose if they were given the chance for fame. Don’t get me wrong, he would be stopped on the streets for signatures, selfies and with every gig, it is ALWAYS an instant sell out. People know him but he doesn’t feature on NOVA like Adele does, I don’t think I have seen him on TODAY in 10 years and he hasn’t made headlines since 2012. But he sells out everytime. She told me that, he tried that lifestyle when he was younger, but that just wasn’t him. So… what does it mean to be successful to a person who rejects the perceptions of success in the music industry…? Could you say that his idea of success was just having the ability to create his music, as free as he can be, for a crowd to enjoy? Is that enough to be successful?

It’s hard to explain to people what us, ‘Amateur Singers’ love about going to our classes, knowing that it is a minor possibility of us ‘making it’ and why we still go. I’m still explaining it to my mum! We were told to right down our goals for 2016 and as a little kid who sings at the school, you would write down “next year, I want to be as famous as Katy Perry,” but as the years go on, you appreciate music because it changes the way you see it. When we were that young we thought music was activity and success meant being famous but as we grew, we saw it as a hobby and success meant being happy and true to the art.

I feel as if back then old blues and Jazz singers weren’t born into the expectations of becoming famous in order to be seen as if they ‘have made it.’ They were truly and passionately giving their heart and soul to the art of music, and thats what made them famous. Sam Cooke, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James; they were born into the age of depression and so music was their for them so that they could express how they felt. It was a different time because the industry was head hunting for these types of people, who were true to the art and now, artists are chasing down ‘the dream,’ selling themselves for ‘success.’

You have so many people with amazing talent and even though this post may seem bias, I think that the people who are making it in the big bad world are just as talented and amazing as those who chose the independent life. The only difference is, they have different ways of measuring their success…. and both ways work!

It’s hard to explain to people why I sing because they think i’m wasting my talent and money for something that they believe that I don’t want to pursue in the music industry (get famous). My film lecturer once told me, “if you love something and it makes you happy, you would spend a million dollars to keep it going because thats what you do for the things you love.” When it comes down to singing, I have never wanted to be famous in the way that I would lose the connection I have with my music and so I can relate to the Famous singer I spoke about in this post. I would never want to lose sight of why I create music or why I sing and if that means i’m not going to be a billionaire…well, tough luck.

Bringing it back to the Ad Industry, I see so many similarities between the Music Industry and the Ad world. Everyone has their own ideas of being successful and that is what makes culture in a company. A united goal and vision to drive you YOUR idea of success, will be totally different to the other Ad agency on the block.

So what does Success look like?

Are We Visual Creatures?


Samantha Harley looks at the popularity of video and animation in advertising and Social Media marketing. Is this the best way to cut through the noise or does it just add to it?

Since childhood we’ve been told, “A picture paints a thousand words”.  Combine this with how advertisers like to cram ads with information, and we have the reason why video has become the next evolution of Social Media marketing.  Content marketing is rarely seen without an accompanying video these days.   With the rise of infographics being used to explain dull or complex content in a vastly simplified manner the Internet and Social Media streams are being transformed into video content hubs.

So what’s wrong with communicating more?  The answer is that soon consumers will be overwhelmed by content.  The artistry of good advertising is communicating a message with minimal content, and while we do enjoy the pretty moving pictures, if everything in our newsfeed is moving, consumers may actually seek out traditional static communication.

Since its inception Youtube has transformed the way we discover content and has evolved into the 2nd largest search engine in the world (owned by the biggest search engine in the world – no names needed). There are over 1 Billion unique monthly visitors to the site, which tells us that it’s the way viewers prefer to be delivered content.  A negative point to this is that everyone is now an independent producer of content and the market is becoming flooded.

Video advertising has branched off through Social Media platforms becoming cloaked as memes and animated GIFs but still has the core focus of selling. Whether selling a product or yourself video has become the answer – with the newest updates to your mobile profile you can post a video as your profile picture on Facebook, and how did Facebook deliver this information…in a video of course.


Video content makes searching more visual and engaging.  With the advancement of technology it has initiated the rise and fall of Motion-ography – by which I mean the rise of the population as motion artists and the fall of artists with true skill who will struggle in the future because everyone can be a ‘motion artist’.

The question remains whether video for the sake of video is the correct progression of advertising or whether the tactics will out-way the purpose of the advertising.  Social Media platforms are independent, evolving organisms but currently they are merging into the same formation – video streaming.  Could it be Facebook’s intention to become a video streaming service and bring social media into the Hulu hub along with Youtube and Netflix?  Or will they remain an independent social network with a strong video centre?  The smart move would be to embrace the element that boosted them to the #1 social platform – connecting people.  If Facebook want to use video then they should introduce reliable video messaging that’s integrated into their existing service to undercut Skype and Facetime. If they continue on the path of flooding consumer Newsfeeds with motion then they run a strong risk of becoming the next MySpace (That’s not a good thing).

On top of everything else, App plugins like ‘Giphy’ have fashioned animated memes as the new method of instant messaging and emoticons are using the sad face as they become animated or obsolete.

Video is feeding the ‘visual creatures’ of the internet, but that hunger will change with time; either increasing to the point that Times Square looks like the fluffy toy of advertising, or decreasing once people have had their fill and we see online content with substance return.

BIG Data vs BIG Insights


Dion Heal is about to graduate from the Advertising Diploma here at Macleay College and he explores the real results and new role of Big Data.

There is an almost infinite amount of data collected about us every second. Right now, multiple companies know how long you’re spending on this page and what the content is. They know where you mouse is hovering, where you physically are, when your last jog was and even how you slept. Creepy? Probably. But if we break it down this ‘big data’ is nothing but a bunch of numbers. Who cares that you spent 33.2 seconds on the BuzzFeed homepage this morning after your 8h 22m sleep if we don’t know how to read it and generate BIG and RELEVANT insights from it.

Big businesses (evil or not) get so excited about the abundance of data. Like a kid in a candy store. But like the kid in the candy store they have two choices: They can go crazy, buy everything, get a massive sugar high and pass out an hour later. Or they can carefully select the best candies, take them home and get the best out of them.

But selecting the best candy is often where businesses fall over. To do this, you need to know how your consumers ‘tick’. You need to know the basics of what motivates them and how they live their lives, so you can select the data relevant to them, analyse the data and come to an insight that is far better than if you were to use every single scrap of number and percentage at your fingertips, purely because you can.

‘Big Data’ alone is also noisy, messy, constantly-changing, in hundreds of formats and virtually worthless without analysis and visualisation. Companies must learn to combine business, technology, and data expertise to get intelligent customer engagement. (If they want to save money that is. And who doesn’t.)

An example of looking through the crap and applying the useful stuff through BIG insights is the prevalence of ‘recommendation engines’ like those used by Netflix or Amazon. They gather relevant data about the consumer and prior interests (which the consumer entered) and previous purchases to suggest things the consumer may be interested in. Some credit-card companies are even making unusual associations while mining data to evaluate the risk of default: people who buy anti-scuff pads for their furniture, for example, are highly likely to make their payments.

In these situations, companies are looking specifically at one set of data to arrive at the BIG INSIGHT, instead of getting all excited about the ‘Big Data’ they have, trying to use every bit of it and eventually failing.

Especially with the rise of Gen Z/Millennial consumers who are very tuned in to knowing when they’re being watched too much, marketers need to learn how to use a small amount of the big data they gather to target consumers in a way that is highly effective, but also not alienating by appearing ‘creepy’.

In summary…

Dear Companies,
Keep on stalkin’ us. We’ll love it; if you get big enough insights 😉

Working Abroad makes you more Versatile, Creative and Successful


Advertising student Nathan Sarmiento ponders how to adapt in a changing workforce  and whether or not you should be working abroad.

“Survival of the fittest” is a phrase that originated from an evolutionary theory as a way of describing the mechanism of natural selection. Herbert Spencer first used the phrase in his Principles of Biology in which he drew parallels between his own economic theories and Darwins’s biological ones. A way to survive in the world is to be more versatile, to be able to adapt and to sharpen your mind. A way to do all that is to work abroad. This will give you experience to be more appealing as well as successful to employers.

Working abroad forces you to adapt, making you more flexible in the long run

The key to survival, in any walk of life, is adaptability. Working abroad helps you hone this quality, molding you in a multifaceted, versatile and resourceful individual. One of the best aspects of this world is how diverse it is, but this is also what makes starting a new job in a different country so challenging.

Not everybody who goes abroad is motivated or able to adapt; encountering a different culture and an unfamiliar environment can be a stressful experience and people may feel overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable culture differences, leading to culture shock, which only a subset of individuals are able to overcome successfully.

Indeed, working in a new country requires both the ability to recongise cultural idiosyncrasies and the willingness and capacity to adjust to them. Ultimately, this makes people more open-minded, empathetic and versatile, which are invaluable qualities into a globalized world.

Working abroad sharpens your mind and makes you more creative

Exposure to multiple cultures does amazing things to our minds. Different cultures might approach the same problem in myriads ways. Correspondingly, research has shown that people who’ve lived and worked abroad are more creative than others. People who have international experience or identify with more than one nationality are better problem solvers and display more creativity.

People who’ve worked abroad are more appealing to employers

People with international experience have a competitive advantage in the working world. Employers are attracted to people who’ve worked abroad because they appreciate the intrinsic value of having that type of experience. They immediately recognise you have already overcome significant obstacles. It takes a bold individual to leave home voluntarily and completely start over in an unfamiliar country. Not to mention, they’re often looking for employers who are willing to travel, or perhaps even move, for the job. Having international experience also means you have a wide network which is vital in terms of both obtaining employment and moving up the ladder. Success is largely dependent upon one’s ability to cultivate relationships.

Working and living abroad will enrich your life in ways you couldn’t imagine, and help provide the sense of fulfillment that defines success. You will have experiences you never dreamed possible, be exposed to things you didn’t know existed and become encapsulated with the dynamic beauty of this plant and the people who inhabit it.

Don’t just be tourists, or a traveler, stop and stay somewhere for a while. Fully immerse yourself in another country and culture, and learn what makes it tick. There’s no better way of doing this than working abroad.

Waves of Innovation

by Macleay Advertising student, Kyra Brown

“Major trends that change consumers’ behaviours and expectations are the way of the future for ad-making”, that’s the prediction from Brad Bennett, head of technology at The Hallway. As part of Macleay’s ongoing AdSpeaks series of talks from high-ranking advertising professionals, ad students had the pleasure of venturing to The Hallway, an independent advertising agency with clients like Google, Qantas, eHarmony, Fuji Xerox, Fairfax Media and NSW Government to name just a few.

Bennett began his career in insurance consulting, then moved to Crisis Communications, and eventually over into the wonderful world of advertising. He also runs a charity, Jiamani, which focuses on providing educational resources for orphans in southern Tanzania.


Brad spoke about how the future of advertising and marketing relies on waves of innovations. The way consumers will make decisions to purchase, thanks to advertising, moves and follows these waves. Changes in major contributing factors like technology and how it benefits human knowledge have a huge influence on this process. A great point he raised was that technology can create value where there previously wasn’t any. So for certain consumers, a new tablet that offers to connect them with other family members half way across the world, has a special value to them. This can be then be highlighted in an advertising campaign which evokes emotion and ultimately the purchase of the device.

He also spoke about what he called “Wired for Search”. This is about accessing information today, compared to 10 or 20 years ago, which is a much easier and simultaneous process. The tool use and access to information is often now a more important quality for children or teenagers than actually remembering the information presented. He spoke about how consumers respond to novelty and that ‘new’  makes them very happy.

A major theme that Brad said his agency and many others are focusing on, is the concept of “always on” marketing. This is less about a “campaign of advertising”, but more about the kind of stuff that is always out there, constantly but subtly reminding the consumers of the advertising message. It follows the “conversational” type of marketing, speaking to consumers on their own level, the way they speak to each other, and how they like to be spoken to.


Bennett spoke about how marketers need to love the product and service they are advertising in order to successfully convey that to the consumers, they need to ensure the consumers know about product cycles and what it can be used for, and they need to also create value for clients in the future, so creating impactful and replicate-able ideas will express value to clients and also to consumers.

A quote that Brad referred to was “never make forecasts, especially about the future” from Sam Goldwyn. Which I thought tied in perfectly with his references to the ever changing world of technology – and how advertising can’t predict or forecast what will happen, but instead should change and adapt to meet the demands and needs of society.

The Hallway was a beautiful open-spaced studio, that was very welcoming and looked like a very cool place to work. I would love to go back and pick the brains of some more of their employees!

Click here to see the article from AdNews’ Rachael Micaleif about Brad’s presentation

Advertising to give local graphic design a boost in 2015

Rachael Micallef is reporting in that the Australian advertising industry is increasing it’s demand for digital designers in 2014/2015 with a 4% revenue boost forecast for that period. This is very encouraging news going into the new year, for local digital designers as the advertising industry embraced multichannel campaigns versus traditional print, radio and television.

“Adland is investing deep into digital and it’s not just boosting its own bottom line. Multichannel graphic designers have seen a major boost in revenue as a result of carving out a niche in this speciality advertising area, according to a report from Ibisworld.

The report is forecasting growth from Australian advertising agencies will flow into specialised design services, resulting in a boost of 4% revenue growth over 2014/2015.

Much of this is based on the adoption of digital technology, which has led to bigger multichannel advertising and wider branding strategies, all of which require strong design.

Ideaworks executive creative director Tom Hoskins told AdNews the increased demand is ‘absolutely’ something it has seen in its business. The GPY&R agency specialises in shopper and retail executions and Hoskins said the business has a specialised team which works on graphic messaging.

‘Smart brands realise that they need to invest in graphic design or tangible experiences,’ Hoskin said.

‘Brands are investing in design much more than just a simple veneer of experience and the digital explosion has helped that become much deeper. So design has now almost permeated the whole way through from start to finish.’

Bloke creative partner Mike O’Rouke said his agency brings in graphic designers on a freelance basis when they are needed rather than outsourcing the skills, so he hasn’t seen this trend in his own business.

However he said design overall was starting to play a bigger role for marketers and brands.

‘Design is solving a lot of people’s marketing problems because it goes across so many different channels. So you have to nail that first,’ O’Rouke said….”

Reproduced in part from by Rachael Micallef