Successive Creative Messaging – How and why to use it now

By Jana Ferguson in Creative on June 10th, 2016

Successive Creative Messaging

Advancements in technology have provided incredible opportunities for advertisers to transform their approach to ad creative from product-centric to truly consumer-centric. Through the automation and targeting aspects of programmatic advertising and other technology platforms, brands can now deliver more dynamic, data-driven creative ads—but, as we’ve seen with a lot of advertisers, this practice isn’t widely adopted. While advertisers are certainly versioning their creative by tactic  (e.g., brand awareness vs. acquisition) and using programmatic creative in retargeting efforts, they’re not taking advantage of the opportunities available in sequential or successive messaging when targeting consumers.

So why aren’t advertisers using these methods?

There are a few reasons:

  • They think they are, but really aren’t (poor understanding of the technology)
  • Technology tax is hurting ROI  (it’s too expensive)
  • It’s confusing
  • There are not enough resources or time to create ad versions

We all know that the varying technology is complicated and confusing; a recent eMarketer report  found that while more than 50% of advertisers have a DMP with rich first- and third-party data, most aren’t using the DMP data to serve dynamic creative. It’s a bit like designing the most beautiful house, but forgetting the front door.

So what, exactly, is the opportunity with dynamic creative and how easy is it to execute?

  • The biggest and most widely adopted is the use of retargeting ads, where brands feature products recently viewed
  • Catalogers and retailers are using dynamic ad creative to showcase their inventory
  • Savvy advertisers are actually changing out ad images, copy or offers based on first- and third-party data to make ads more meaningful to the end user (varying product positioning based on demo and psychographic profiles)
  • It’s not just for retailers—service advertisers or brands whose products have a higher purchase consideration can benefit from dynamic creative via successive messaging

And that is the most overlooked opportunity: successive messaging , which moves your customers from awareness through purchase. While we’ve had this ability for years, it’s certainly become easier to use for a few reasons.

  • Standardization of HTML, which enables cross-device targeting and programmatic creative
  • The path to purchase now moves pretty seamlessly across devices
  • Ability to schedule sequential messaging exists via your ad serving platform or tech and publishing partners

So how is it done? 

It’s a lot easier than you’d think. By simply creating ads that target a consumer throughout the purchase cycle, you can then serve those ads sequentially with every impression served (across any network, device or screen).

  • First impression or the initial ad:  This is your brand introduction. Don’t go for the kill in the first impression. Instead, bring to life your brand values and attributes by entertaining, educating or providing a utility (generating interest via content)
  • Second and third impressions or the next ad: This is your product or service teaser. Lay the foundation for the actual product or service offering and start speaking to the consumer benefits (planting consideration)
  • Final ad:  This is the time to give them a reason to buy. Use direct offers, store locators, buying convenience, etc. to drive immediate response
  • Tip: look for signals of intent (clicks or site activity) and increase your hard hitting ads accordingly


While advertisers often use creative for each stage of the purchase cycle, it’s the sequential manner that’s the real opportunity to serve consumers. Instead of doing this, advertisers are still splitting their buys by media strategy (e.g., awareness vs. acquisition) and serving creative accordingly, missing the opportunities that sequential messaging offers.

But it doesn’t have to be this way because sequential or successive messaging is a LOT easier to execute than most realize. You can do it easily through your ad serving platform (e.g., Atlas or DFA) via weight or ad rotation, or directly via publisher tools such as Facebook Dynamic Product Ads, or Programmatic creative platforms such as Spongecell or FlashTalking.

Want to learn more details about sequential messaging?

Contact our experts today!