More than half of all UK adspend is predicted to be digital next year, with the Carat Ad Spend Report predicting the total market to grow by 6.4 per cent in 2015. The same study reveals that programmatic buying is expected to grow at 20 per cent year-on-year, after making enormous headway in 2015.
For years, programmatic advertising has been considered too robotic and impersonal to be an effective brand-building tool. However, improved technologies and techniques are making it possible for brand marketers to take advantage of programmatic’s reach and efficiency without losing the personal touch that connects brands with their customers.
1. Bringing creative to the data-driven programmatic table
Data-driven marketing is firmly established now; it drives the media process in ways we only dreamed about just a few years ago, both across the industry and inside the agency. Campaigns are more intelligent, accurate and personal than ever before, giving rise to the data scientist. However, the creative side is too often still not fully taking advantage of the data-driven insights that can be harvested from this approach, leaving us with less pertinent messaging and content.
For instance, the data can be used to understand the wider interests of the audience segment and inform wider campaign creative. If the audience segment enjoys travel in their spare time for example, why not style clothing brand campaign on holidays to different countries? Alternatively, through cluster analysis the data can be used to reveal distinct subgroups within audiences. This insight can be used through the planning process to make different creative available for different clusters and this can be extended into other tactics like content marketing, meaning campaigns can be highly targeted across the board.
Merging creative with programmatic operations will be key in driving customer engagement to its full potential in 2016 and beyond. Bringing programmatic and creative teams together throughout a campaign’s lifecycle will bring about a whole new level of relevancy and personalisation. But it will require a dynamic approach from all parties; there must be no cut-off point where the creative agency hands over to the media agency.
2. Marrying advertising and marketing technology
In today’s complex digital landscape, it is more challenging and important than ever for marketers to deliver a unified, relevant experience for consumers throughout the entire customer journey. To do so, marketers need to connect their digital advertising with their broader marketing activities, from customer relationship management to ecommerce and beyond.
Bringing the worlds of digital advertising and marketing together means that brands can engage consumers in long-term conversations, delivering consistent experiences throughout every interaction, and consider a customer’s lifetime value, rather than individual transactions. The marriage of ad and martech will see marketers apply insights, execute campaigns, and measure results – end-to-end, from prospecting to relationship management, with greater success than ever before. It’s all about sharing accountability rather than outsourcing effort to media or creative agencies.
3. Predicting customer intent to purchase
Predicting the future is no longer science fiction. Brands today need to know what customers are about to buy, before they even know themselves. With smart analysis of data and predictive analytics, marketers can now pinpoint and target shoppers who are about to make a purchase, long before they even enter a store. This will enable marketers to predict who is interested in their brand or product and grow their addressable market quickly.
It’s time to draw a line under the composite customer/target based on previous online actions, preferable demographics and attributes, or purchase cycle timing. As the consumer journey replaces the sales funnel as the construct for how marketers view engagement, discussion around advertising technologies and algorithms will evolve. In 2016, marketers won’t be asking “how well does it optimise?” but rather “how well can it predict future behaviour?”
Richard Robinson is managing director and V-P EMEA at digital marketing hub Turn.