How the Film Metropolis Foretold the Future of Ad Tech

Have you ever seen the classic German expressionist movie Metropolis? It’s filled with glorious dystopian Art Deco-inspired views of the future. In the 1980s, Giorgio Moroder oversaw a three year restoration, repackaging it with an electro soundtrack loaded with Adam Ant and Bonnie Tyler hits. Even Madonna was moved by the unique look and feel of this Fritz Lang masterpiece, filming her “Express Yourself” video as an homage to the movie.  
Why is Metropolis a metaphor for the ad tech industry? Let me tell you.  
The famous end title contains the most quoted line of the film: “The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart”. When it comes to ad tech we’ll be seeing a lot of this in practice moving forward, with Adobe ideally positioned to achieve this integration thanks to its historic, deep knowledge of developing market-leading creative products and software.   
The development of amazing creative has always been at the heart of advertising—but we’ve never integrated it into the process of programmatic delivery. Instead it’s been siloed: a creative campaign is constructed by one team, then sent to the programmatic team to use, despite the numerous advantages that data-informed campaigns can deliver. If changes are ever needed to a programmatically-delivered campaign the process is time consuming and tedious. The creative is sent back from the programmatic team to the agency. Minor changes are made to try and boost campaign success based on how the ad is performing. The ad returns to the programmatic team to optimise, and around and around it goes. This sucks time away from what creatives should be doing, namely generating the kind of wow activities that will put your brand on the map.  

Our new product, Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative, embeds creative development into the programmatic delivery process, marrying the creative strength and ease-of-use we offer in our market-leading Creative Cloud software with the targeting and data-powered insights enabled by Advertising Cloud into a single solution.  
This is not to say that the day of the “cool” ad is over, or that the role of the creative team diminishes. They can be even more powerful because Adobe Advertising Creative enables them to harness multiple layers of data to make their output more targeted, loved and engaging for consumers.  
We acknowledge that some may look back wistfully to the Mad Men days, when brilliant ideas stemmed from a three-martini lunch, resulting in consumers humming memorable jingles and quoting ad to each other. But back then there were far fewer locations where an ad could appear. Viewership of tens of millions per television programme weren’t uncommon.  
Today, consumers go on mobile, watch television, use streaming services, read papers online, see digital and static out-of-home ads, listen to podcasts, click on websites, surf on social—and more. As competition for a consumers’ time increases, their attention spans decrease. Unless the creative is targeted and available for instant optimisation, consumers will block your ad. Relevance is key, and creative plays a massive role in that.  
Integrating creative into media buying process is a quicker way to feed insights about what works and what doesn’t. Brands and agencies will have the ability to pivot to an ad that’s better performing mid-campaign or finesse the poorly performing creative of another ad to make it perform better. Marketers no longer have to wait until their entire buy is spent before adjusting creative with their data insights. 
Which is why we return to the final frames of Metropolis. Its characters realised that heart, hand and brain must work together for the betterment of their city and society as a whole. The same is true of ad tech. You can’t reach your goals if the heart (creative) and the data (brain) aren’t matched when the hand puts the campaign in place.