The unfortunate truth is that most people reading this will think that I’m referring to a white paper or an article. Not really. It may, but content is really used here in the context of the information you’re trying to deliver to your audience. There are many styles and a growing number of formats, but the point is to add value to the life of your audience. The good news is that many people already see this and understand that the objective is now placed on the audience and not you.
I believe the best marketers really try to find those intersections where audience value aligns with company value. Bingo!
The reality is that what a brand says to their audience (content) is equally important as how they say it (creative) and both are probably more important than where it is said (channel). I understand that creative people are going to argue that the big ideas are paramount. I don’t disagree. I’m merely saying that what you say is equally as important. Also, I always hear mobile experts saying that you need to use more mobile, and similar from social media folks. Maybe.
Why do I feel this is the case? The role consumers play in the process of buying has literally done a 180. Consumers, really buyers in generally, now operate as a filter of information… just 15 years ago they struggled to find information. Their hurdle for what constitutes good information, content, has been rising steadily for the last decade. Evidence the erosion of media effectiveness, banner blindness, or whatever you want to call it. The days of interrupting people to tell them your message, expecting them to grant you the permission to even pay a small amount of attention, is just gone.
What a difference a year makes! Facebook appears to have really turned around their advertising strategy and offering. A recent survey published in #AdAge Digital identifies some 74% of ad budgets including a line item for Facebook and most indicate that ROI has increased in the last 6 months.
The article brings an interesting thought to mind… why do we refer to ads placed in a site that is primarily social to be social media marketing? Do we indicate that ads placed on Yahoo! or through Google somewhat social media marketing? Of course note. I may be standalone here but that identification needs to change. Social media work done by brands and agencies on Facebook is distinctly different that their advertising work on the same property. The role of the efforts are different, don’t lump them together.
The last 15 years of marketing innovation are indelibly etched in history, yet the prior 30 years set the groundwork for why this all makes sense. Mass marketing strategies that drove tremendous advertising growth in the 60’s and 70’s gave way to targeted audience based concepts by the late 80’s. Around this time marketers crowded consumer choice, proliferating brands and even non-brands, in an environment where consumers already faced tremendous friction in their ability to gather information for evaluation and purchase.
Then in the early 90’s we all partook in the greatest, most timely invention of all, the Internet.
More than a new technology or a new advertising channel, the Internet cast a milestone that marks the shift in consumer objectives forevermore; from acquiring information to filtering information and increasingly creating information. This consumer shift is the primary wedge inserted to marketing and advertising, especially for brands that have yet to realize this change; exacerbated by waning consumer response rates, many brands have upped the ante by driving even more impressions, using new technologies to drive efficiency and reach.
More than a retro-futuristic steampunk story, if we were to sit down and examine what’s available would we again build the rigidly siloed marketing systems of today? Of course not. Marketing starts with audiences and objectives, not channels and data siloes. In a sense, I’m advocating a righting of the marketing equation, placing the consumer rather than channels as the primary concern. Viewing the equation from the this dimension, we eliminate complexity and increase targeting accuracy, experiential consistency and measurement accuracy.
In a blog entry last March, Is Social Media a Consumer Haven or Marketing Channel?, I discussed the disconnect in value exchange between social properties and their consumers. I went so far as to identify the pressure Facebook will feel when they become subject to quarterly earnings expectations after their IPO, and hypothesized the situation where they will increase the exposure of personal information to encourage marketers to spend with them. Well… the game is getting started…
Today, Digiday featured the article “Brand View: Facebook’s New Targeting Options” and identified new elements of consumer data that will be available for marketers to leverage. I’m a firm believer in data driven marketing, this blog entry is not a comment about that. Rather, I point back to my initial conjecture that Facebook will do this and emphasize that this action will end up making no sense to consumers. Opposed to content rich sites like Yahoo or Microsoft properties, Facebook has no content, consumers create all of it but don’t yet recognize that it is their content and their profile are being monetized.
Mark my words… within three years, we’ll either see a Facebook with a dramatically new approach to monetizing their platform or a dramatically smaller company. Maybe both.
I’ll admit it… I’m in my 15th year of digital marketing, wrapped inside a 28 year career of marketing. While this can make me sound like an old fart, I realized quite a while ago that I no longer think in digital terms… I apply digital concepts, tactics and measurement to marketing strategy.
More than parsing words too closely, this goes to the core of all multichannel marketing and consumer centric strategies. Thinking in terms of channel based strategies, a.k.a. digital marketing strategies, is antithetical to success. Your target audience IS your target audience, regardless of where they come upon you.
Consider the rage of discussion around data management platforms, real time bidding and web recommendation tools. Across the board, all value the input of digital signals to try to deliver better or more efficient digital media. Is this the right answer? Last time I researched the area of media consumption, I found that consumers amass about 42% of their media impressions through digital channels.
If you still believe in the “digital marketing strategy”, today’s best practice, consider that you’re looking at less than half of your cutsomer engagement to deliver less than half of their impression of your brand. How does that align to the other 58% of media impressions? How do you control consistency between those impressions?
Hope you get the point. Start thinking about your marketing strategy, and how digital signals and media can help achieve your objectives. The world is turning increasingly digital, but until you make this shift, or until 100% of your audiences impressions are digital we’ll never see an alignment between the digital marketing strategy and overall marketing stratetgy… we’ll never see true consumer centric marketing or true customer engagement.
I get it, it makes total sense. To expand their market they need to find people who aren’t currently / frequently using their services… to capture competitive share they need to go where their competitive set hunts. But you have to agree that this is optically weird. At least heavy up on some display ads off of your core site, or mobile ads. Here’s the article, WSJ… http://on.wsj.com/HbF3t5… Google’s spending on traditional advertising grows four-fold to $213M.
Yester-year I worked to connect large direct response retailers to their first ecommerce experience – integrating commerce and content systems into “enterprise resource planning” systems (ERP). While we hear less about ERP systems these days, the point of those solutions was that it really did connect all aspects of the business… finance, inventory, customer service, billing, and more.
Today, we use the word enterprise to describe something that we either want a VC to perk up and hear, or something that involves merging a few disparate things. I read a MediaPost article today, “Enterprise DMP Will Require Companies to Merge Data Silos“, and was reminded of this point.
While I thoroughly agree with the authors premise that data silos are on their way out, I disagree that having a larger silo is substantively better. Or, that it represents the “enterprise”. Combining more digital data for the purpose of sending more, or even better, digital messages is a great ideal but is not the right answer. Two points to consider…
To rightfully use the term, enterprise, it should at least cover a majority of the average media spend, if not all of it. Combining all digital channels, the best we can see in this digital coverage is about a 25% of ad spend and 40% of the consumption of media.
Consumers exhibit multichannel behavior, 70% research and purchase in different channels, online versus offline. Being better at just the online part of this equation match well with consumer expectations or marketer needs.
I love reading the DigiDay newsletter, a great publication, but some of the articles recently have just been odd. This morning’s article, Ad Industry Want to Rebrand Behavioral Advertising, is the second in a row. Here are a few quotes from the article that caught my eye…
“It stands to reason that the advertising industry, faced with unease over behavioral advertising, would choose a rebranding exercise. It’s not behavioral advertising, you see, it’s ‘interest-based advertising.’ ”
“The new effort, done by McCann’s MRM in Salt Lake City, takes on the thankless task of educating consumers about the AdChoices icon that’s popping up in many banner ads. One thing the “Your AdChoices” effort doesn’t do is call behavioral advertising, well, behavioral advertising.”
“This makes sense. Interest-based advertising sounds much more benign and let’s face it creepy than behavioral.”
Rebranding of behavioral advertising is probably the right thing but the whole thought that this is the best approach is just missing the point. Cross domain tracking of consumer behavior, selling the insight to the highest bidder, is a scary proposition. The fact that it can be done doesn’t mean that it should, or that it is actually good. Leave aside the part that behavior is bottom of funnel activity, and the online channel is lamenting its’ inability to attract brand ad spend (anyone see incongruence?), the whole concept of behavioral targeting is tech based and seeks to extract value exchange from consumers in a rather insideous way.
The balance of ad tech has been, and will continue to be, technology driven and not focused on the actual engagement of consumers. The idea that behavior is a meaningful predictor of purchase intent is flawed… I once read a research piece on the predictors of buying a flat panel tv… one would think that the online behavior of looking at flat panels was a good predictor, it was number 26.
Instead of trying to convince congress and consumers that this is actually “interest-based advertising”, why don’t we start by asking what the actual predictors are to purchase intent and audience identification then back into that question an approach that provides value to consumers and not just ad tech intermediaries?
When you’re in a conversation and somebody uses this term, your first question should be… is this on-site or display ad behavioral targeting?
Typically, when referring to banner ads, behavioral targeting relates to the use of data regarding consumer behavior that’s learned across numerous domains. I’ve tracked a new industry group that’s tasked with defining standards and definitions for behavioral targeting, Behavioral Targeting Standards Consortium (BTSC). After reviewing the site once again before this post, it’s interesting that they don’t have any content yet regarding the accomplishment of this objective. Seems like it would be somewhat simple to define a market in broad terms, guess not.
On-site behavioral targeting is often times referred to simply as on-site targeting. Typically, it relates to individual consumer information that’s used to segment and them either serve a different experience on a website or measure the difference in reaction to particular aspects of a site by each segment.
This distinction is critical because it demonstrates how young the discourse is in the online industry. The idea that two words can mean very different things to two people who share a similar role should be rather concerning. And, is likely why we have confusion around many subjects.
Much has been written about on-site consumer behavior and its applicability to targeting programs. Despite this, little is really known about types of behaviors that are tracked or trackable, and which ones are truly indicators of or useful as a high-value targeting mechanism. It’s possible that we’ve over-inflated the importance of behavior and overlooked other things that should be considered. And, in doing this, headed towards a focus on a technology solution that relies upon the use of highly personal consumer information to fuel its’ engine… raising the concern of consumer protection groups and the governments of many countries.
Types of behaviors that are tracked or track-able:
On-site, single domain behavior – probably the least contentious source of data, easily believed by consumers as a valuable source of data to help marketers connect with consumers. Often called re-marketing, in a recent MediaPost article, Jeff Hirsch, the CEO of Revenue Science and Behavioral Targeting Standards Consortiumfounding member, specifically stated that this a limited version of behavioral targeting.
Cross-domain behavior – algorithms consume a large quantity of data, including searches, product views, and domains visited in the attempt to identify a sense of interest on the part of an individual consumer so a marketer can target ad messages. The aggregation of this data can occur via cookie tracking across a network or more recently there’s been attempts to validate the process of intercepting and interpreting all web activity from ISPs (i.e. NebuAd), creepy.
However, in all the dialog about behavior, what other data points are available that marketers can use as targeting methodology? Or, from a more important strategic perspective, what is the objective of a marketing program and which data points can help the marketer accurately identify and target?
My assertion is that other data points are more effective at targeting, achieving marketer objectives. Here’s why I say this:
Today, only a minor portion of display ad spending is funded towards behavioral targeting. Display ads are largely brand oriented. Marketers tend to choose domains as their primary targeting mechanism. Behavioral targeting comes too late in the purchase cycle to affect brand preference and attitude, it’s more of a “hail-mary” or a direct response tool.
Virtually no on-site targeting is the result of multi-domain data aggregation.
What other data points are available, without any fancy technology:
Geography, language, and season – these have been used for generations in the offline environment very successfully, why don’t we use them on line more often? The interesting point is that these data points are largely available to everyone with very limited technology constraints. Between a site visitors IP address and their browser settings, these data points are easy to use. Whether display ad or on-site targeting, these are available today.
Returning customer or new prospect – again, these are largely available to marketers today. Why not use them? Certainly, every marketer would like to speak to a new prospect in different terms than they would an existing customer.
In a later post I’ll try to talk about targeting options that require more sophisticated technology. Until then, send me your thoughts!