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Trendsetters: MEC's Shenan Reed Talks about the Evolution of Digital Creativity
Ask Shenan Reed about the future of digital advertising, and she's quick to talk about what she terms "the next frontier." She describes digital's next evolution by framing how current technology is now able to deliver dynamic and sequenced creative. However, she cautions, "The role of the creative must change to have a vision that understands and appreciates variables. We have the data to know the right customer, the right place and the right time -- now we need to provide the right message, so advertising can deliver on its promise of being a service to the consumer."
Shenan knows that generating creative assets in the volume that is needed can be expensive. "Our access to data is allowing us to know more about our consumer before we ever serve a message to them." She adds, "As creatives start to embrace--and even enjoy--working with sequential messaging and more personalized creative, it will continue to improve. We'll see a world of new opportunities."
As MEC's president of digital, Shenan Reed leads the media agency's digital business and is responsible for driving the advancement of digital growth and innovation across North America. Her capabilities span the entire spectrum of digital marketing: digital strategy, online media placement, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, social media strategies, creative consulting, and ecommerce/eCRM consulting.
In fact, her early understanding of the digital consumer journey led her to open her own agency, Morpheus Media, in 2001, which she built into a highly profitable and well respected business known for its work with luxury and fashion clients such as Neiman Marcus, LVMH, Mont Blanc, and Chanel, as well as The New York Times and A&E Television Networks. In 2011, Shenan sold and continued with the agency for two years to see the transition through.
At MEC, Shenan is helping marketers navigate the sheer amount of data available to build future-forward digital solutions that resonate with consumers. "It's not the volume of data that matters, but rather the insights you can glean from it. To get great insights, you need to know what questions to ask and to be open to finding answers you didn't expect." She always keeps in mind that Steve Jobs often remarked that consumers didn't always know exactly what they wanted. She says, "Self-reported survey data can only tell us so much. Actions will always speak louder than words, and our ability to now harness consumer action has provided tremendous insight into what our customers really want-- not just in terms of creative, but also in regard to media and all messaging communication."
As a result, she is also keenly aware of how the placements of ad units will to continue to evolve. "As we continue forward with viewability as a primary metric for purchasing media, publishers will change their sites to accommodate only viewable units, which will create a better user experience. We are going to continue to see the units get out of the box and into the flow of the content, particularly with in-line video units. And we are going to see ‘native' really start to deliver deeper consumer experiences."
According to Shenan, "Since the first banner ad went live in 1994 we have seen fantastic innovation. Much of it happened in those first 10 years….we saw interactive banners (remember the banner that played pong?), we saw video in banners, we saw banners with hot spot technology. Technology-wise a lot happened in those 10 years. What didn't happen was the shift of the really great visual talent to digital. As a result banner ads ended up the ugly step children of the print ad. We even priced them like print ads.
In the last 10 years we had an influx of great creative talent that brought full gorgeous images to digital, and embraced the technology and the site, sound and motion capabilities. We are starting to look at pricing digital more like television and better appreciating the value it can bring when part of a holistic and fluid strategy."
She is clear that the next frontier is again a promise from 10 years ago that we now have the technology to deliver dynamic and sequenced creative. "As technology continues to transform the marketing and media landscape, we have a laser like focus on creating transformational creative solutions that drive client growth. As we always say, it's not about a digital strategy, but a strategy for a digitally-enabled world.