Once upon a time, agencies would deliver the artwork featuring their client’s ads by hand. Nowadays, creative is delivered in a digital format–usually as an attachment to an email or line of code contained within a spreadsheet.
Creative imply refers to the file that becomes a display ad appearing on a site, mobile browser, video player, or other medium. Creative can take many formats, including:
Below is a screenshot of the window that appears in DFP when a publisher is uploading new creative.
When an advertiser or their agency says that they will be “delivering creative” at a certain time, it means that they will be sending an email with attached image / Flash files or delivering the HTML code that can be entered into an ad serving platform.
Though some advertisers still send individual image or animated files for every ad they want to run, more and more simply sent snippets of code that publishers can upload to their ad serving platform. This approach allows the advertiser or their agency to maintain control of the ads that appear on their end. It also allows the advertiser to rotate through different ads without uploading multiple files; a single snippet of code can be instructed (by the advertiser / agency) to display multiple different ads on the publisher’s site.
Implementing third party tags is simple in most ad servers; it generally involves just pasting a snippet of code and clicking a button to preview and activate.