Creating ads from scratch is a problem software companies are less excited about solving now as compared to five years ago.
Being able to quickly get ads running across ad networks has traditionally been a value proposition marketers have heard touted by PPC software companies.
But if you look closely, you’ll notice that fewer companies are focusing on adding value for digital marketers by building ad creation tooling.
Companies will offer solutions that help marketers launch new ads based on templates first created in the ad networks.
But as far as new, unique ad creation, I believe this will continue to be a diminishing part of any PPC software’s pitch in the future.
Why We Have Always Avoided Building Ad Creation Into Our PPC Software
From day one, when we were planning our product roadmap, we looked for any way to stay out of the "ad creation arms race" as we called it.
We felt this way because:
This is impossible.
We saw the writing on the wall for ad creation back in 2013. The last few years have only strengthened our belief that had we sunk the time and resources needed into creating value around ad creation tasks we would have gone out of business.
We avoided ad creation features from the start but not everyone did. I believe sticking with ad creation features for too long as been a part of Marin’s post-IPO struggles. Some companies have made intelligent moves away from ad creation in their software.
You Can No Longer ‘Stage’ an Ad Using Adstage
The most striking example of a shift away from ad creation has been the change in Adstage’s offerings. Over the last few years, they have been slowly stripping away ad creation features completely.
Today, you can no longer ‘stage’ an ad in Adstage.
I think this was a brilliant move by their team.
On LinkedIn, Adstage’s CEO Sahil Jain commented with why they made this monumental change in response to some thoughts I shared:
Ad creation is tough to get excited about as a thirty-party software creator because you’ll always be a “follower” like Sahil says. This is a product of how ad networks maintain the lifeblood of third-party software: APIs.
API Teams Lag Behind Other Teams at Major Ad Networks
The growth in different ad types has exploded as mobile and video have became more dominant. It’s just moving too fast to keep up as a software provider.
The teams responsible for maintaining the APIs at Google and Facebook can’t even keep up with how quickly other teams in their companies are placing new features into ads.
Teams of engineers at Google and Facebook are continually creating new ad units in their UIs optimized using the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning tech on the planet. Even if the API teams could keep up, Google and Facebook often withold functionality around ad creation from their APIs for a lot of good reasons.
The major issue? Third-party tools rely on these APIs.
This creates a lag between when a new ad creation element is available to marketers through the ad network and when it actually makes it into the API for third parties to add.
Ad Networks Have Changed Their Policies Covering Ad Creation in Third-Party Software
The ad networks have adjusted to the new reality surround ad creation when dealing with companies like ours looking for API access.
The decision makers at these huge companies understand a smaller team of engineers building third party software can’t match every advancement at every ad network.
When we first applied for Google Adwords API access in 2013, it was really tough to get approval without the ability to create ads using your software. Now, that’s not the case.
We jumped through extra hoops to show the Adwords API approval team why we weren’t offering any ad creation features in our software.
Since then, Google has aggressively loosed the requirements around ad creation and the other ad networks have followed their lead. In our experience, the major ad networks no longer make ad creation a focus of conversations that lead to getting approved for API access.
Google, Facebook, and others understand there are plenty of other areas outside of ad creation where third-party software can add value.
Overcoming the hurdle of cloning the newest ad features of every ad network is only going to become a bigger challenge for any software stepping up to the plate.
If you are out there and think you have a great idea for helping marketers solve the problem of creating ads from scratch across platforms: godspeed. The world needs more people working on problems facing marketers.
We believe ad creation will be primarily handled by the ad networks themselves because any third-party software solutions present major disadvantages.
The ad networks are just better positioned than third parties to handle ad creation going forward.
We believe digital marketers should plan accordingly.
Author: Jon Davis, CEO at Shape
I spent years as a PPC consultant and agency analyst before focusing on making software.
I enjoy thinking about how technology fits into the future of digital marketing and how it's used within agencies delivering great results for clients.