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The best advertising strategy isn’t likely to be keeping ad tech and ad creative in different camps.

That was made clear when eMarketer recently interviewed Mike Isabella, the director of customer engagement at outdoor apparel and footwear company Timberland, and Daniel Meehan, the founder and CEO of mobile advertising technology provider PadSquad.

The topic was “the success Timberland has had with custom ad formats—and why ad tech players can no longer afford to ignore creative.”

Timberland launched an interactive ad campaign for its new flexible boots.

“Our 2017 campaign featured our SensorFlex products—they’re boots that are meant to flex for comfort,” explained Isabella. “To tell that story, we worked with PadSquad to build a custom ad unit that comes to life. We gave consumers control and let them engage with the product to understand how it works.”

Consumers were able to scroll through the ad, in which they can alter the movement and flex the shoe of a dancing character by tilting or shaking their phones. Isabella called it “a virtual flex test.”

“Our goal was to develop a custom ad unit that would reach men on mobile devices in a way that was unique yet native to the device,” noted Meehan. “Because of the nature of the product, we were trying to get the brand message across through engagement with the actual device, not just the ad unit itself.”

In other words, tech meets creative — and the campaign works.

According to Isabella, engagement rates were high.

“In some instances, we’re hitting three times the industry benchmarks for engagement, and that has a lot to do with the creative of the ad unit and the custom format in which it was presented,” he noted.

What’s the point of all the automation and targeting if the message and the creative are not engaging?

“Mobile devices present unique spacial challenges. Brands are stuck with a small amount of space to present their ads, and breaking through that limitation requires interesting creative formats,” Meehan said.

The whole interview is worth a read. You can access it here.

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